Every year millions of people are hospitalized in the United States for medical treatment and surgical procedures. Sadly, hundreds of thousands of those people will become victims of medical malpractice. It is natural to place our trust in doctors, as the vast majority of practitioners are capable and conscientious individuals. However, not all doctors provide the accepted standard of care to their patients, and their failure to do so may have long-term negative effects on their patients’ health. How does a patient, who in most cases lacks detailed medical knowledge, figure out if they have been the victim of medical malpractice? There are some common sense signs that may help inform you if your treatment is not up to par.
The first big sign is that the treatment you have been prescribed simply isn’t improving your condition. While not every treatment works for every patient, if you aren’t improving as expected, this can be a red flag that your condition was misdiagnosed at the outset. In many cases, delays in effective treatment can make a medical condition worse, so failure to make a proper diagnosis in a timely manner can qualify as medical malpractice.
Another sign is if your doctor rushed to diagnose you on slim grounds, whether through a description of your symptoms alone without any supporting diagnostic testing or through a simple lab test without any follow-up testing once a specific diagnosis is suspected. A diagnosis should take into account a patient’s medical history, their symptoms, and comprehensive testing.
Does your diagnosis and treatment seem to make sense to you? If your diagnosis doesn’t fully take into account the symptoms you’re experiencing, or if the prescribed course of treatment doesn’t match the diagnosis you’ve been given, this is another sign of potential malpractice. Doctors are responsible for meeting an accepted standard of care when treating patients, and failing to do so may qualify as negligence, a significant element in determining whether they have committed malpractice.
Poor communication may be another sign that you have been the victim of malpractice. If your doctor avoids answering questions about your condition or your course of treatment, it may indicate that they are aware an error has been committed and do not want to admit it.
Conversely, your doctor may admit that a mistake has been made in your treatment. Do not take such an admission at face value. Medical malpractice claims often involve complicated assessments of damages, including the cost of medical bills, reimbursement for lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. An early admission of error may be an attempt to influence you toward settling any potential claim out of court before the full extent of any damage done is understood.
Establishing a valid medical malpractice claim relies on showing that your doctor failed to provide the accepted standard of care, that their negligence caused you an injury, and that the injury led to specific damages to you, a complicated process requiring the assistance of expert witnesses and specialized legal counsel. If you suspect that you have been the victim of malpractice, you should contact a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to preserve your rights. Hodes Milman & Liebeck can provide you a complimentary case evaluation. Contact us today online at hmlm.com or call (949) 640-8222.