When you visit the doctor for a checkup or for a more serious matter, you’re entrusting them with immensely private information that is supposed to help them help you. But what happens when a medical professional violates that trust, and you end up being harmed in the process? Medical malpractice can have a devastating impact on a patient’s life and can lead to long-term physical, emotional, and financial consequences. Although it’s impossible to tell which doctors are more likely to be negligent than others, understanding the impact can give you a better idea of how to move forward after experiencing this kind of injustice.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is when a healthcare professional (like a doctor or nurse) or facility fails to provide adequate care, which results in harm or injury. This can include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, prescription errors, or birth injuries. For example, if a doctor fails to take a patient’s ailments seriously and fails to diagnose cancer, the cancer could spread and become more difficult to treat. Another example is if a surgeon makes a mistake during a procedure and results in injury or death to the patient. In some terrifying and notorious cases, surgeons have left tools or materials inside someone’s body, leading to later serious complications. All of these are examples of medical malpractice.
In some cases, medical professionals can mishandle important specimens or genetic material. An analysis of malpractice claims in the field of pathology showed that a huge majority of the won claims came from lost or “misplaced” samples. If you have a biopsy and there is limited material to work with, you may not have a second chance to test the specimen and determine if the cells are cancerous or not. Not only is it a serious violation of trust, but it could cost someone valuable and life-saving treatments.
In addition to medical malpractice, healthcare professionals and facilities can also be held liable for breach of contract. They not only have a legal (and ethical) obligation to provide patients with optimal care, but failure to meet these obligations could be considered a breach of contract. For example, a doctor could be liable for a breach of fiduciary duty if they fail to act in the best interests of their patient and prioritize their financial interests instead. This could also be exemplified by cutting corners to save on storage and processing costs.
Although it seems like doctors have all the power in these situations, especially considering your life is in their hands in many cases, you still have the right to seek justice and damages for the harm they’ve caused you. Unscrupulous and negligent doctors can depend on a patient’s blind trust of their credentials to get away with their problematic actions. You may not be able to avoid all possibility of malpractice, you can still maintain documentation to bring a claim if necessary. For example, if you come to your doctor requesting treatment for a specific ailment and they attempt to brush it off, assert yourself by telling them to make a note in your chart that they refused to provide treatment. Follow up by collecting and maintaining those records for yourself. Creating a documented trail of evidence will improve your odds of a positive outcome and may also help you receive better quality care.
If you have been a victim of medical malpractice, you understand the devastating impact it can have all too well. Healthcare professionals have a legal and ethical obligation to provide appropriate care for their patients, and it’s important to hold them accountable to that. If you are seeking legal counsel regarding your medical malpractice claim, you need aggressive and experienced legal counsel on your side. Call our office at 404.873.3700 for a consultation today.