Medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the US. When you are harmed as a result of the negligence of a medical professional or medical institution, or when your loved one has died because of this negligence, you have experienced medical malpractice. There 4 parts of a medical malpractice case, all of which must be proven in court.
- A relationship existed between the healthcare professional and the patient.
- The medical professional was negligent.
- The medical professional’s negligence caused the injury to the patient.
- The patient suffered actual injuries because of the negligence.
To help ensure you get the justice you deserve and the funds to provide for your future care, avoid the following common mistakes people make in their medical malpractice claims.
1. Not taking what occurred seriously.
Usually, medical staff work hard to provide the best possible care for their patients. But that doesn’t always occur. And even momentary lapses can have devastating effects on their patients. Most people don’t have a medical background that can tell them exactly how negligence occurred or how it resulted in their injury or their loved one’s death. Hospitals and other medical providers rely on this lack of knowledge to shield themselves from responsibility with their patients are harmed or even when they die. Internal investigations often have the same purpose, designed to absolve the institution of any legal guilt rather than uncover the truth of an employee’s negligence. Confrontation is never comfortable, but you don’t deserve to suffer because of someone else’s negligence. Take what happened seriously and follow your gut if it tells you something isn’t right. Ask for second opinions and seek legal counsel. As a registered nurse, I know how to read medical charts and test rests. I can quickly understand exactly what happened to you and advise you if medical malpractice occurred.
2. Not following doctor’s orders and following up about your injury.
Even after you have suffered because of medical malpractice, you don’t want to make your injury worse by not doing all you can to minimize its impacts. This is your life and your future health at stake. Follow your doctor’s orders by working hard in your physical therapy sessions, making and attending follow-up appointments, and taking prescribed medication as ordered. Insurance companies often try to argue that your injury or the severity of your injury was a result of your own actions or failure to follow doctor’s orders, not their client’s negligence. Don’t give them any ammunition. Be thorough about your medical care after your injury, and call an experience medical malpractice attorney like me as soon as possible.
3. Not documenting the event and its aftermath
The best thing you can do to prove all 4 legal requirements of medical malpractice and protect your future is to carefully document that bad event that occurred, your resulting injury, and how the negligent party treated you both before and after the event. To do so, take detailed notes about your injury and case, including everything you can remember about the negligence and the circumstances surrounding. Ask any family members who witnessed what occurred to write down what they remember also. Every time you speak to a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional about what happened to you or your injury, take notes. Write down all the medication you must take because of your injury. Document all the times you missed work because of your injury and other ways this event negatively impacted you. Request copies of all your lab results, x-rays, test results, and other medical records. Save copies of all your bills related to your treatment and the injury, and print any emails you exchange about your injury, including bills from the hospital, clinic, or other institution where the event occurred.
4. Giving your only copies of documents to others
Your documentation is your best way of proving your claim, so be careful to never give your only copies of your documentation to anyone. Medical malpractice cases can be complicated. Insurance companies have entire departments devoted to fighting medical malpractice claims, and they will lie to you, claiming to have lost your paperwork or having never received it. Doctor’s offices and hospitals can also misplace paperwork, either accidentally or because they think it will help protect them from a lawsuit. I don’t even want you to give your only copies of documentation to me, because I never want you to be without everything you need to advocate for yourself and your future. As your attorney, I’ll fight for you on every front, and that fight begins with you. Make lots of copies of your documentation and keep the originals in a very safe place.
5. Don’t overshare
This mistake occurs on social media, but it also occurs when a patient tells their healthcare provider or hospital that they suspect medical malpractice or intend to file a lawsuit. Medical institutions can make it very difficult for you to obtain your medical records and copies of your lab results, x-rays, and any medical notes about your care or injuries. Doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other medical providers can also try to make changes to your medical files if they think you might be suspicious of them. Do not give them those chances. Remember that people talk, so be careful not to tell others about your plans either. In venting to a friend about your ordeal, whether verbally or by text or email, you might be opening yourself up to the game of telephone, which could reach someone at your medical provider. Private social media posts can be saved as a screen shot and shared outside your trusted circle, so resist the urge to post about what happened. Instead, follow your doctor’s orders about your injury, gather your documentation, and set up a free consultation with me. Together, we’ll learn more about what happened to you and make plans to get you the justice you deserve.