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What should I do if I suspect medical malpractice?

A plaintiff's personal injury attorney who practices in the area of South Carolina medical malpractice law can tell you what the process is to initiate a legal claim against a doctor or other medical professional who has committed medical malpractice. But the legal process itself comes toward the tail end of the overall considerations that underlie a medical malpractice claim.

Long before filing a lawsuit, the injured person and his or her attorney will need to undertake a thorough investigation of how the act of malpractice occurred, as well as whether any additional individuals other than the doctor in question (and including the facility where the doctor works under a theory of hospital negligence) might also be named as defendants.

So what should you do if you suspect that you or a loved one has been the victim of a medical mistake? According to the organization Mothers Against Medical Error, which was founded by a woman who lost her son due to an act of medical malpractice in South Carolina, there are some steps that you can take right away that can help your attorney to evaluate your possible legal claim. These include:

  • See if you can have any input into the hospital's "root cause analysis" review of what happened. Most any hospital will be required to undertake such a review.
  • Obtain copies of your patient medical records, including any notes taken by the doctor and any nurses involved as well as lab results.
  • If a loved one has died as the result of a suspected medical error, order a forensic autopsy. You have a right to have such an autopsy performed, but often hospitals will not do one unless requested to do so.
  • Inform state government regulators, such as the state health department or medical licensing board, of what happened. Aside from any legal claim of your own, these organizations can conduct investigations of their own and can also undertake disciplinary actions if warranted.

You can take any of these steps by yourself or in conjunction with a personal injury attorney who has experience with medical malpractice claims, but either way the information you gather can have a helpful effect in assessing the strength of your legal claim and with the eventual commencement of a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Source: Craig Daily Press, "Thinking About Health: Insured victims of medical errors can end up with big bills," Trudy Lieberman, Oct. 24, 2015

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