A team of researchers at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University recently concluded that about 10% of all deaths in the U.S. are due to medical errors. This means over 250,000 people are killed as a result of medical malpractice every year, and countless others suffer non-fatal injuries. Because medical malpractice occurs so frequently, it is important to understand exactly what to do if you are ever a victim. Here are the top 5 things you should do if you suspect medical malpractice:
Find Another Doctor
Medical malpractice victims should make their health their first priority. If you believe a doctor has made an error while diagnosing or treating you, it’s important to find another doctor as soon as possible to correct the medical mistake. The second doctor will most likely need to review your records and perform tests before diagnosing you. Then, the doctor can begin treatment to undo the damage caused by the first doctor. If the first doctor made a treatment error, the second doctor will focus on treating the complications caused by this error. However, if the first doctor misdiagnosed you, the second doctor will simply focus on providing the appropriate treatment for your condition.
Request Medical Records
The next item on your to-do list should be requesting copies of your medical records. These records will play an important role in your medical malpractice case, so it’s important to obtain a copy as soon as possible. The records will contain information regarding the symptoms you were experiencing, your medical history, tests performed, and medications prescribed. This information can often be used to prove that the doctor committed medical malpractice. For example, let’s say you visit the emergency room because you are experiencing chest pain. Your medical record clearly states that there is a history of heart conditions in your family, but the healthcare provider still does not perform tests to determine if you are having a heart attack. The doctor diagnoses you with anxiety, but later you determine you were actually having a heart attack . In this case, the records would show that the doctor was negligent because they failed to review the patient’s medical history and perform the appropriate tests.
It’s best to request these records prior to filing a medical malpractice claim so your healthcare provider does not attempt to change your information. It is illegal to falsify medical records, however this does not prevent some doctors from doing it anyways to avoid liability.
Keep A Journal
If you believe you are a medical malpractice victim, start keeping a journal where you can write down notes on your health. Describe the symptoms you are experiencing as a result of the medical error. You should also explain how the medical error has impacted your life. For example, if you have had to take time off of work to undergo treatment as a result of the error, jot this information down. Try to write in the journal everyday so there is a record of exactly what you endured because of the doctor’s mistake. The entries in this journal can be used as evidence in your medical malpractice case, so write in as much detail as possible.
Contact An Attorney
Medical malpractice cases are incredibly complex, so it is strongly recommended that you hire an experienced attorney instead of attempting to represent yourself. Look for a personal injury attorney who has successfully handled medical malpractice cases in the past. It’s best to schedule a consultation with the attorney prior to signing paperwork to make sure they are a good fit for your case. Scheduling a consultation also gives you an opportunity to ask the attorney questions and learn more about their practice.
Be as detailed as possible when explaining the situation to your attorney. Don’t leave any information out regardless of how insignificant it may seem. Be sure to provide the attorney you choose with all of the documentation related to your case–especially the medical records and journal. The attorney will then have enough information to start investigating the incident and gathering evidence of the medical error. If additional information is needed, the attorney will contact you. From this point forward, the attorney will handle the legal aspect of your case so you can focus solely on recovering from your injuries.
Avoid Making Contact With Other Parties
Your attorney should act as your main point of contact in the case, so there’s no need to speak with any other parties involved. Do not contact the healthcare providers or individuals at the healthcare facility to warn or threaten them about your medical malpractice claim. In fact, it’s best if you avoid contact with them altogether. You should also refrain from talking about the case on social media. Even if your account is private, it’s very possible the defendant could find out about your posts.
The defendant’s insurance company could attempt to contact you once the defendant is notified of the claim. If this happens, ask the insurance company to get in touch with your attorney. Do not speak to the insurance adjuster about the case or agree to answer any questions. Insurance adjusters will try to twist your words around and use them against you later on in the case, which is why it’s best to let an attorney talk to them instead.
If you believe you are a victim of medical malpractice, contact Trial Lawyers for Justice as soon as possible to schedule a consultation with our team. Our experienced personal injury attorneys will fight tirelessly to hold the negligent healthcare provider accountable for their mistakes. With our help, medical malpractice victims can recover compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.