Seeing a doctor when you feel ill is the only logical thing to do, but believing in their infallibility is far from being realistic. Medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of death, so it has set in motion another troubling trend – medical malpractice lawsuits. Although every medical treatment involves a certain risk, starting from medication side effects to common complications after surgery, not every bad medical outcome can be ground for a lawsuit. Read on to learn more about medical malpractice and to determine if you have been a victim of medical negligence.
Understaffed medical facility
A great number of hospitals around the world are short-staffed which results in overworked employees and neglected patients. Neglecting is a form of medical malpractice and can lead to various medical issues like delay in emergency response, lack of treatment and lack of medication. One of the most common reasons for poor medical attention lies in the shortage of medical staff.
Lack of standard medical tests
Most of the medical treatments require a set of standard test to detect and to diagnose disease or injury as well as to monitor the process and to determine the course of further treatment. Lack of common medical tests (blood tests, EKG, ultrasounds, X rays) points to inadequate medical treatment, possible misdiagnosis and eventually, medical negligence.
Lack of additional tests
During or after the treatment it is necessary to perform additional medical tests whether to make sure that the medical treatment is effective or to simply monitor some chronic illness. If the patient did not get additional medical tests, it is impossible to determine if the patient was diagnosed correctly in first place, as well as if there is a need for further diagnosis.
Wrongful diagnosis occurs when doctors fail to identify the specific medical condition, which consequently leads to inadequate medical treatment, worsening health condition and even possible death. Similarly, delayed diagnosis (when it takes too long to diagnose disease) or failures to diagnose (no diagnosis at all) are also clear examples of medical malpractice.
Worsening health condition
If after medical treatment patient still experiences symptoms that remain the same or become worse, there is a great chance that it is a case of medical malpractice. Whether it is a wrong diagnosis, wrong procedure or negligence during the surgical procedure, it is a valid reason for starting a lawsuit.
Mistakes happen, even in the surgery room. While some of those are rare (such as performing an operation on the wrong patient or the wrong part of the body), some are more common and involve leaving debris or piece of equipment in the body or not closing the incision properly. Also, many reliable medical negligence attorneys often have cases of medical malpractice due to inadequately sterilized surgical instruments that can cause various complications.
Lack of follow-up care
Almost every medical condition and medical treatment require a follow-up, so if the doctor chooses to disregard the protocol or refuse a follow-up visit after the treatment, it is a sure sign of medical negligence. Refusing follow-up, especially right after surgery is also called patient abandonment. However, not every termination of the doctor-patient relationship is negligence.
No informed consent from the patient
Every surgery involves the patient’s approval and some paperwork regarding consent. Surgeons are obligated to inform patients about the procedure, to explain the process as well as to warn them about possible side-effects. Also, the patient needs to know about recovery time before signing consent. If something goes wrong and it turns out that the surgeon performed the procedure without providing all the necessary information to the patient, it is a strong ground for a lawsuit based on a lack of informed consent.
Although medical malpractice happens, there are ways to lower the risk of becoming a victim of inadequate medical care. It is of great importance to have a primary care physician as well as to openly communicate and discuss health issues. Also, ask questions and inform yourself about your health condition and common medical test and treatments. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to look for the second opinion, especially if the doctor advises a treatment with dangerous side effects.