It takes time to comb through a case and determine if there is a potential for malpractice claim. However, three of the things that will show that you could have a case include that:
- Your injury was caused by negligence
- Your injury caused significant damages
- A violation of the recognized standard of care occurred
Here’s an example. If you go to the emergency room and complain that your head is hurting, the nurses may place you into a triage. When you’re seen by a doctor, the doctor should take reasonable steps to determine the cause of this headache. Some things they might do include a physical exam, taking a history and checking your vital signs for unusual changes.
If the doctor doesn’t perform any kind of exam but instead hands the patient a prescription for pain relievers, the doctor risks the patient having a serious problem that pain relievers won’t treat. That could end up being malpractice if the patient ends up having a stroke, brain hemorrhage, seizure or other significant injury.
Some other examples of medical malpractice include:
- Premature discharge
- Failing to order appropriate tests
- Ordering unnecessary surgery
- Ignoring or misreading laboratory results
- Failing to diagnose or misdiagnosis an issue that others in the same field would have recognized
- Poor follow-up care or aftercare
- Disregarding a patient’s history or failing to take the patient’s history
Not every error that is committed is going to result in a malpractice claim or award. There has to be some appreciable impact to the patient. Misdiagnosing a cold versus seasonal allergies, for instance, would be something unlikely to affect a patient in the long-term. Misdiagnosing a benign rash might not lead to any consequences, either.
What can patients do to reduce the risk of malpractice and medical errors?
It is important for patients to pay close attention to their medical providers and the work that they do. If there is something that you feel the doctor should know, tell them. If they confuse your name with someone else’s, correct them. As a patient, you’re the first line of defense against errors. You know your body, your personal information and a history of what you’ve been through. Your knowledge will go a long way toward helping a medical provider diagnose and treat you, but you need to be involved in your care when possible.