Dr. Mark A. Hoffman, M.S., M.D., J.D., LL.M., M.Bioeth., M.B.A. Medical errors account for as many as 440,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Only heart disease and cancer cause more deaths, making medical mistakes the 3rd leading cause of death in this country. In fact, a recent study by the Institute for Medicine reports that most Americans will suffer from a wrong or delayed diagnosis from a doctor at least once in their lifetime. Often, these error have devastating results. With so many fatalities, and many more injuries, it is important to know what to look for and what to do if you think that your doctor has made a mistake that has caused injury.
What You Need To Know
There are some things that are important for you to know so that you are prepared should you or a family member ever have to deal with a case of medical malpractice or negligence.
Malpractice comes in many forms. The needless deaths and countless injuries caused by medical errors are the result of a wide range of mistakes. While this list is not exhaustive, medical negligence can result from the improper or delayed treatment of infections or cancer, surgical mistakes, misinterpretation of laboratory or x-ray test results, birth injuries, or failure to diagnose serious conditions. There are many other types of mistakes that may constitute medical malpractice. You should consult an expert malpractice lawyer to determine if you potentially have a medical malpractice case.
Medical malpractice can have tragic consequences. While the outcome of medical malpractice incidents is as widely varied as the types, there are many consequences that are life-altering or life-ending. In order to have a case, you do not necessarily have to be permanently injured, but many victims of medical malpractice or negligence are.
Generally speaking, it is up to the patient to pursue the possibility of medical malpractice. It is highly unlikely that an attorney will approach a patient and suggest that they have suffered malpractice. Therefore, it is up to patients or their family members to be aware of anything that seems out of the ordinary, or which are not in keeping with their expectations for the care. That means that patients and their loved ones need to be informed of possible outcomes so they are able to recognize if something goes wrong. They also need to be attentive to things going on around them while treatment is underway. Sometimes when a mistake occurs, the reactions or statements of the medical personnel involved can provide a clue.
Complications and bad outcomes do not equate to medical negligence. Sometimes known complications occur during or after a surgical procedure or medical treatment. These can even result in a devastating outcome or even death for the patient. This isn’t necessarily medical negligence or malpractice. The possibility of a bad outcome or side effects are ever-present medicine, even when no one has made an error or been negligent. Just because a patient or their family does not like the outcome of medical treatment, it doesn’t mean that malpractice has occurred.
There are two key factors to proving medical malpractice. Proving a medical malpractice case is twofold.
You should consult an expert. Determining whether or not a medical issue rises to the level of medical malpractice is complicated and it necessitates expert medical and legal knowledge and review. Some cases may appear to be malpractice when they are not. Others cases that might not seem like they are malpractice in reality are. Only someone well-versed in law and medicine can make that determination.
You need to act now. It is important that you do not delay getting your case to a malpractice attorney. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for most medical malpractice cases is two years from the time of the injury. There may be situations where the statute of limitations is longer (cases involving minors, for example), but the two-year rule holds true for most of cases involving adults.
What to Do If You Think You Are a Victim of Malpractice
If you believe that your doctor has made a mistake during your medical care, or if you feel like something just isn’t right with the outcome of surgery or treatment, your first step should be to contact an experienced and knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney. The relevant medical records must be reviewed and analyzed, and the quality of the medical care assessed for deviations from accepted standards of care and resultant injuries. Such an assessment generally requires a medical expert. At Ross Feller Casey we have experienced malpractice attorneys and physician-lawyers (lawyers who also have medical degrees and training) to review your case and determine if you have a lawsuit.
The attorneys at Ross Feller Casey will evaluate your situation for free and guide you through the next steps. All cases are handled on a contingency basis, so you are not financially obligated unless a financial recovery is made in your case.
Please contact our office for your free consultation.
Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.