When a person seeks medical treatment, he or she does so looking to have a medical problem resolved. However, things can go wrong during a medical treatment that makes a medical problem worse or that even causes a new problem. Medical mistakes can range from an improper diagnosis that increased the length a person had an illness to surgical errors that result in a lost limb or even a death. Whether the problem was caused by an honest mistake or through gross negligence, a patient is often due financial compensation for the treatment error.
Medical malpractice is the legal term for when a doctor, or other medical professional, takes an action or fails to take an action that results in damage to the patient. Common examples include failing to diagnose a serious illness when symptoms were present and nursing home staff failing to properly care for an elderly person resulting in bed sores and muscle atrophy. To meet the requirement of medical malpractice, the medical profession has to have been negligent in some manner. Determining whether or not a medical professional was negligent is not always easy. Those who feel that they have been harmed should consult with an attorney to determine whether or not a malpractice case exists.
Talk it Over
When a medical error occurs, it is important to talk the problem over with the doctor or other medical professional. The point of the conversation is to gather information on what went wrong and provide the professional with an opportunity to make the problem right. When an honest mistake has occur, many medical professionals will be willing to take corrective action to remedy his or her error. Whenever possible, the conversation should take place with a witness who can later verify what was discussed in the meeting.
If a medical professional who has made an error is unwilling or unable to fix the problem, a patient needs to take action. Each state has a statute of limitations that determines how long as person has to file a lawsuit as the result of medical malpractice. In most states, the limit is two years, but it is only one year in some states. There is also some variance in when the statute begins. However, regardless of the statute, it is best to take action as soon as possible while the information on the error is available and the events fresh in people’s minds. When an attorney files a lawsuit for medical malpractice, most medical insurance companies will attempt to settle the matter out of court. This means that most patients will not need to testify in court as a part of the legal proceeding.