6 Important Dos and Don’ts If You Suspect Medical Malpractice
As much as we may like to believe otherwise, the evidence shows that medical malpractice results in an alarming number of preventable patient injuries and deaths every day in the United States. The U.S. Institute of Medicine, for example, has estimated that more than 98,000 deaths are caused by medical malpractice each year in the U.S. This figure is thought to be a low estimate, and does not even include any instances of malpractice that caused injuries short of death. In fact, preventable medical mistakes are among the top five causes of death in the U.S., even though they are not officially recognized in the Center for Disease Control’s yearly ranking.
If the time should come when you suspect medical malpractice has occurred during the care of yourself or a loved one, you should be mindful of the following specific steps that you can take to help preserve your legal rights.
1. Don’t Assume Nothing Happened
There are several reasons patients and their families often simply assume that medical malpractice was not committed. We all want to believe in the competence of those entrusted with our medical care. It’s hard to trust someone with your life and health if you fear their negligence will cause you harm. It is natural for patients to want to give their healthcare providers the benefit of the doubt. In addition, often when suspicions of malpractice are raised, the patient is told something by the healthcare provider to minimize those concerns, such as “this just happens sometimes” or “that’s just the risk of this procedure.” While risks are a fact of medicine, there is a distinction between risk and neglect. Just because there is a known risk to a medical course of action, that does not alleviate the healthcare provider from minimizing the risks by following the accepted standards of care required in treating the patient. The bottom line is, do not allow your suspicion of medical malpractice to go unanswered without proper investigation.
2. Don’t Talk to Administrators without First Consulting an Attorney
When we get poor service at a restaurant, it is appropriate to call a manager to address the issue. However, when we are mistreated in a healthcare situation, administrators, and specifically risk management personnel, are not there to represent your interests, but rather to protect the medical institution and its staff.
Oftentimes, concerned patients and their families will report suspected cases of malpractice to administration only to be coerced into giving statements and providing information which can later be used against them. For this reason, it is important to consult an attorney before saying anything to administration. An attorney who works for you will be able to ensure that any exchange of information with the administration is appropriate, fair, and in your best interest. In a case when administration has already been contacted, make sure your attorney knows so that he or she can obtain any materials from that interaction.
3. Don’t Wait to Seek Legal Counsel
The legal system, when it comes to medical malpractice cases, is often tilted in favor of the healthcare institution, rather than the victim. For example, the law benefits the healthcare providers by placing deadlines or ‘statutes of limitations’ which limit the amount of time a victim has to file a medical malpractice claim before they become barred. In some instances, this clock begins ticking at the instance of malpractice, not at the time of the discovery of the malpractice or of its effects. Therefore, even if the full ramifications of an act have yet to occur, the statute of limitations for filing a claim is already ticking. For this reason, you should contact an attorney immediately upon suspicion of malpractice in order to protect yourself and your loved ones from being legally barred from receiving rightful compensation.
4. Do Seek Help from an Attorney Who Specializes in Medical Malpractice
In a lot of ways, the specialization of attorneys is just like the specializations of doctors. Just as one would not go to see a podiatrist with a heart condition, a malpractice victim may want to avoid consulting a general practice attorney or an ‘all purpose’ law firm with suspicions of medical malpractice. Even law firms which advertise ‘accident law’ or ‘wrongful death’ practices may not be fully equipped to handle the highly specialized nature of medical malpractice law. Because medical malpractice cases require a depth of knowledge related to the interplay between medical issues and negligence law, you should consider seeking advice from an attorney and/or law firm whose sole focus is on medical malpractice cases. This may provide you with the best chance of finding the answers and accountability you deserve.
5. Do Take Care to Preserve All Evidence Related to Your Suspicion of Medical Malpractice
It is important to keep all of the evidence which may be related to the malpractice, the healthcare providers at issue, and the harm which resulted. The available documentation will vary from case to case. Here are a few examples:
- Appointment cards
- Authorizations and waivers
- Medical billing statements/records
- Prescription records
- Medical records
- Prescription bottles
- Photos of wounds, scars, or other injured areas
- Death certificate
- Autopsy report
- Bills from funeral home
Not all of these materials may apply to your case, and others may be long lost. However, keeping what you have is important, and providing them to your attorney will help expedite the process.
6. Do Write Down Names of Providers and Witnesses
Your attorney will likely want to communicate with healthcare providers involved in your care and others who may have information related to the events at issue or the harms you have sustained. Thus, you should write down names of these individuals and provide the list to your attorney at the outset. Include the name of any healthcare provider who may have suggested that you seek legal counsel, as well as roommates and other family members who may have witnessed the events in issue.
Given the alarming rate of medical malpractice in the U.S., anyone who is suspicious of having received negligent care is justified in having their concerns investigated. Don’t simply assume that malpractice was not the cause of the harm. Instead, preserve the available evidence and promptly consult a qualified attorney that concentrates on medical negligence cases. Preferably, this consultation should occur before you communicate any concerns to the administrator or risk manager for healthcare provider at issue. By following these steps, you can help ensure that your claim is properly evaluated and that you receive the accountability and compensation you deserve.
Don’t Miss Your Chance to File a Claim
Time is of the essence when pursuing a medical malpractice claim. Indiana law imposes strict deadlines (also called “statutes of limitations”) in medical malpractice cases that will forever bar the claim if it is not filed in a timely manner. The law relating to the deadline can be exceedingly complex; therefore, one should not delay in consulting a qualified medical malpractice attorney to determine the applicable statute of limitations and review the case.
How to Request a Free Evaluation of Your Claim Today.
If you believe you have been harmed by a medical error and have a potential medical malpractice claim, the Powless Law Firm, P.C. would like to help. You can request a free case consultation today by calling us at 877-769-5377 or by submitting the free case consultation request form on this page. Here is important information you should know about us:
- We have extensive experience and success in pursuing medical malpractice and nursing home neglect claims.
- We never represent the negligent hospitals, nursing homes, healthcare providers or their insurers.
- We offer free consultations.
- We never require any retainer fee.
- We accept cases on a contingency basis, meaning we only get paid if we obtain a recovery for you.
- We work with a variety of highly qualified medical experts to thoroughly evaluate and present our cases.
- We are committed to providing the attention and resources required in these complex cases to help make a difference for those harmed by medical malpractice, and to help force changes that will help protect others.
- We accept cases anywhere in Indiana