Health personnel and medical practitioners are human, so are susceptible to mistakes. When a health worker makes an error in judgment, it may sometimes pose little to no threat to a patient. However, in some cases it could become a major complication, causing serious harm. If this occurs then it can be looked at as a form of medical malpractice.
Proving that there is a case of medical malpractice is not so easy. For a start, the medical malpractice attorney must be able to show that:
- The practitioner in question had a duty to take care of the patient.
- Acted against the normal code of treating a patient i.e. treated the patient using illegal means.
- That the mistake or error made by the medical practitioner did in fact cause the patient any form of harm.
Signs of a Strong Medical Malpractice
There are two main cues you’d require for a valid case of medical malpractice. They include:
Absence of informed consent
There are a lot of medical procedures that attract the risk of complications. That being said, before a medical practitioner begins treatment, he or she must first discuss the procedure with the patient (as long as the patient is conscious). Explaining both the risks and benefits of the procedure in question. In doing so, the patient already knows all the possible outcomes. There is an absence of informed consent when a doctor performs a procedure against the wish of the patient. Or the doctor fails to inform the patient of the risks and benefits attached to a procedure.
In situations that involve an absence of informed consent, the patient in question has to have gone through actual harm. This way, the attorney representing the patient doesn’t need to provide evidence that the doctor didn’t follow the normal code of conduct.
Let’s paint a picture:
A cardiothoracic surgeon is performing an operation to replace one of the valves in the patient’s heart. During the course of the surgery, the doctor finds out that another valve has a problem and needs to be replaced too. Of course, the patient didn’t agree to that second procedure, but if the operation on the second valve doesn’t result in the patient suffering any harm then there is no case of malpractice. But if later on complications arise from that second procedure, such as an infection, then there would be reasonable grounds for a medical malpractice case. This doesn’t mean the doctor didn’t follow the normal code of conduct. But as they say, the law is the law.
We already know that doctors have to explain all the risks and benefits attached to a procedure. But doctors only need to inform patients of the risks that are likely to happen, they don’t necessarily need to inform patients of highly unusual risks. If a patient does experience one of those highly unusual risks, then it is likely the result of an error. For instance:
A doctor performs a biopsy on the abdomen of a patient, which for all intents and purposes, is a very simple process. However, a few weeks after, the patient starts experiencing chronic abdominal aches, fever, and bloating. The patient is taken into an examination room and a scan shows that a piece of sponge from the previous operation was left in the patient’s abdomen.
Another instance is if a doctor prescribes some antibiotics to help treat a patient’s infection but fails to go through the said patient’s medical history. The patient is allergic to the antibiotics and as a result, suffers anaphylactic shock after ingesting it.
In both cases, a serious claim can be made for medical malpractice.
What Are The Authorities Saying?
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality created a program called CANDOR (Communication and Optimal Resolution). This was developed as a means for healthcare providers and hospitals to address medical mistakes. There are five principles guiding CANDOR, these are:
- Remain honest to the patients and their families when a medical mistake has happened
- Offer some sort of compensation
- Make the necessary investigations to discover what caused the error
- Keep the patients and their families updated at all times on the status of the investigation.
While all these principles are insightful and very sound, unfortunately not all hospitals are following the principles set out by CANDOR. A lot of hospitals out there are quite reluctant when it comes to accepting that they or their employees have made an error. Regardless of whether the doctor admits the mistake or not, any patient that has been harmed should make contact with an experienced injury attorney just in case.
In the case of medical malpractice, the attorney employed will do their best to attain the best possible result for their clients. Most healthcare organizations will be very willing to offer a hefty amount of settlement to a patient that has any form of a legal representative. The last thing a hospital would want is to have its name in court for any reason. Especially one that has to do with medical malpractice as this would severely affect the credibility of such a hospital.
Staking Your Case
While some hospitals prefer an out-of-court settlement, you may not find a lot of luck with others. If you believe you have a strong case of medical malpractice, you should seek legal assistance. Some of the best Charleston Medical Malpractice Lawyers are:
- Barrow Law Firm
- Blincow Griffin Law
- The Steinberg Law Firm, LLC
- Bland Richter, LLP
- Rosen Law Firm, LLC.