A Johns Hopkins study in 2016 reported that over 250,000 people die yearly due to medical care gone awry. These include a misdiagnosis, lack of consent, misguided prescriptions, neglected patients, and other medical errors.
While nobody anticipates more trouble from seeking treatment, it is essential to know what to do if you or your loved ones fall victim. These four steps will give you a starting point.
1. Contact the Health Care Expert Involved
Most doctors are willing to listen, re-evaluate your treatment process, and rescue a situation if it results from their mistake at no cost. It is, however, paramount to have your complaints and any corrective procedures documented and the records preserved.
You may also wish to report the case to the relevant medical licensing board who will guide you on your next step. Doing this can also work to your advantage should the case proceed to the courts.
2. Get a Lawyer
You should contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as you suspect negligence by your health care provider. Interview several lawyers and only work with one you are comfortable with. A medical malpractice case can mean sharing very intimate details. A pleasant lawyer will also make the case less burdensome especially if you or your loved one is in pain.
A good law firm will give you free initial consultation. Describe in detail what happened and when. Retrace even what you might consider as insignificant details. Explain your state before the perceived malpractice, your experience during the treatment process, and all the negative aftermath.
Let the lawyer know if you have tried reaching out to your doctor or any medical licensing board and the details of your interactions. Leave no detail uncombed. The tiniest detail could surprisingly tilt the scale of justice to your advantage.
3. Get an Expert Assessment
Your lawyer will advise you on whether your state requires a certificate of merit or a review by a medical expert before filing a lawsuit. The purpose is to certify that your health complications are as a result of a medical error. The expert must be a physician, and you may need to see more than one if your situation is complicated.
4. Have Your Documentation in Place
Ask your doctor or medical facility to give you certified copies of all your diagnosis and treatment records. Medical records are confidential, but as a patient, you have a right to that information. Include any informal advice you received from the hospital's caregivers.
Compile a chronologically accurate report on when you first saw the doctor or visited the accused medical facility, the names of all the specialists you saw, and all the outpatient attention they gave you.
Have a record of the medication you have taken, what led to the prescription or treatment procedure you underwent, and why you suspected an error. Narrate all you can remember about the environment of the hospital or doctor's office. Include charges, receipts, and any other payment evidence. Attach prescriptions and any medication you may have left.
The first and most critical step when you suspect you have been subjected to medical negligence is to contact a competent malpractice lawyer. Your lawyer will review the case details and engage an investigative expert where there is a need. They will also ensure you have met the procedural requirements before filing a lawsuit on your behalf.
A seasoned lawyer will also evaluate the available options, such as out-of-court settlement, and help you pursue the best solution. Contact Brimberry, Kaplan & Brimberry P.C. for an initial consultation, expert advice, and professional services if you are in Albany, Georgia, and its environs.