Medical malpractice is a term that is frequently heard in news stories and conversations. You may be wondering, "What exactly is medical malpractice?" and perhaps more importantly, "If I believe that I have been a victim of medical malpractice, what should I do about it?"
Medical malpractice is a variation of the civil law tort of negligence. Generally speaking, someone is negligent when he or she owes you a duty of care and in failing to observe that duty causes you harm.
In the health care setting, there are many parties who could be involved in your medical care who may be negligent. There are many ways they can exhibit that negligence: a misdiagnosis of an illness or injury, delayed or incorrect treatment, unsanitary conditions at the healthcare facility, surgical errors, medication errors and more.
Medical malpractice can result in patient harm that is debilitating, long-lasting, permanent or even fatal. Lives of victims and loved ones can be radically altered physically, emotionally and financially by medical malpractice.
People who believe they have been the victim of medical malpractice may want to consider taking legal action, and many do so with the help of an attorney. Setting up a malpractice claim can be a complex process that requires careful attention to detail, a solid understanding of state and federal laws, and a methodical approach to meeting legal deadlines and ensuring that all necessary procedural steps are followed.
There are many considerations that must be made when filing a malpractice claim, including:
- Analyzing the facts of your situation and applying them to relevant laws to assess the validity and strength of your claim;
- Communicating with health care providers, medical licensing boards and expert witnesses;
- Arranging for follow-up medical assessments, if required;
- Filing your medical malpractice lawsuit in proper form and in a timely manner; and
- Engaging in settlement negotiations with insurers, medical personnel and other possible defendants in a lawsuit.
All of this can be overwhelming, especially when people are already dealing with a health issue or loss stemming from a medical error. Rather than trying to tackle this process alone, victims and their families may find some relief and support by working with an attorney familiar with these issues.