Q. What is medical malpractice?
A. Medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider or facility knowingly or unknowingly deviates from the accepted standard of care, resulting in harm or injury to the patient. Some examples might be prescribing the wrong medicine, failing to accurately diagnose a medical condition, or neglecting a patient by failing to closely monitor them while they are being cared for.
Q. Can nurses, anesthesiologists or other healthcare providers be sued for malpractice?
Q. Can I sue if I am unhappy with the outcome of my surgery?
A. Surgical outcomes are not guaranteed, so having a result you didn’t expect or are dissatisfied with is not usually grounds for a lawsuit. You must be able to prove the healthcare provider was negligent when performing the surgery in order to pursue a malpractice lawsuit.
Q. How do I know if I have a malpractice case?
A. Generally you will have an idea if you have been treated improperly or injured during a procedure. If you feel you have been a victim of medical negligence, it is critical that you speak with an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice as soon as possible. Bring your medical records with you during your initial consultation to help the attorney see all the details of the case.
Q. How do I obtain my medical records?
A. Healthcare providers are required by law to give you copies of your medical records upon written request. You will need to request medical records from every place you have received health care, and read them thoroughly because records can be altered. This may mean the clinic where you saw your doctor, the hospital where you had additional testing, and the specialist in another location who oversaw your care.
Q. How long do I have to file a malpractice lawsuit?
A. A Statute of Limitations applies to medical malpractice cases and varies by state. Generally you have between one and three years to file a claim. There are special allowances for minors and where damages are not immediately discovered.
Q. How do I pay the attorney who represents me?
A. Most attorneys will accept cases on a contingency basis, which means you don’t pay until you have received an award from the healthcare provider. If your case is not settled in your favor, you are usually not obligated to pay attorney fees, but you will almost always be liable for expenses incurred during the case.
Q. Will my case go to trial?
A. Medical malpractice cases tend to go to trial more and are settled out of court infrequently. These types of cases can be quite a battle and are generally rather lengthy.
Q. Can I find out if a doctor has been sued for malpractice before?
A. The medical licensing board in your state will keep records of any complaints or criminal cases against a doctor, so check with them to find previous cases of malpractice.
Q. What types of damages are usually awarded in a medical malpractice case?
A. Each state has laws regarding what is eligible for compensation in a medical malpractice case, but usually past, present and future medical bills are paid, along with other bills incurred from the negligence and an amount for pain and suffering.