If you are injured while under the care of a doctor or medical professional, you are a victim of medical malpractice.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the third leading cause of death in the United States is medical negligence. Some estimates show as many as 200,000 people are killed each year because of medical mistakes.
People are victims of medical mistakes every day. The mistakes cause injuries and illnesses that range from mild to moderate to severe, and sadly in some cases, medical malpractice leads to death.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Just because your health does not improve after seeing a doctor does not mean you are a victim of medical malpractice. In order to qualify as medical malpractice, the treatment provider must deviate from the recognized standard of care – what a reasonably prudent health care professional would do or not do in similar circumstances.
Like many legal issues, in order to prove medical malpractice, it must be shown that a health care provider was negligent and that the negligence caused injuries or damages.
If you believe you are a victim of medical malpractice, your circumstances need to be investigated. Someone who understands medical malpractice laws should review your medical records and speak to those involved in your case.
The sooner you take action the better because there are limitations on the length of time available to recover damages. Not to mention, medical problems can worsen over time.
Am I More at Risk Based on the Type of Treatment I’m Receiving?
In general, it’s the medical care provider’s state of mind and/or training that poses the biggest risk to patients. And when it comes to missed or incorrect diagnoses, it’s the provider’s inability to see the big picture and consider all of the options.
Though the severity of injury could be linked to the extent of the treatment you’re receiving, it’s also possible to enter a hospital or doctor’s office for a routine procedure and develop a serious and potentially life-threatening infection.
You should never assume you are 100 percent safe when under the care of a doctor or when receiving medical treatment.
How Can I Reduce My Risk for Medical Malpractice?
Being the victim of medical malpractice is never your fault. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are supposed to have the training needed to help you with medical issues and trusting your doctor shouldn’t ever feel like a mistake.
However, there are things you can do to reduce the risk you’ll be a victim of medical malpractice. If you are ever in doubt about a diagnosis or treatment recommendation, seek a second opinion. In many instances, even if you are convinced your doctor is correct and you’re comfortable with the treatment recommended, it’s still a good idea to get a second opinion.
It’s also important to be proactive about and take responsibility for your medical care. Make sure you understand the information your doctor has provided to you, and whenever possible, conduct your own research. Keep track of your specific symptoms and insist on having all of your questions answered. Pay attention to your body and be aware of what is normal or abnormal for you.
You should never feel intimidated by a healthcare professional or the medical system. Be your own advocate, even if it means “ruffling a few feathers.”
If the unthinkable does occur and you are injured by a medical professional’s actions, you should never be fearful that taking action will be negative. Doctors cannot retaliate against you or refuse to treat you because you’ve spoken up after an incident.
Finally, you should never be concerned about the cost of reporting a medical error.