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How do you know if you have a medical malpractice case?

Medical malpractice takes place when a doctor or other medical professional harms a patient as a result of failing to perform his or her medical duties competently. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States, right behind heart disease and cancer. The idea that a person who has been charged with caring for you or your loved ones would hurt you as a result of negligence, incompetence or malice is very frightening. However, in the event that it does occur, you can press charges and be compensated for the damages inflicted upon you or your loved one. In 2012, the United States saw $3 billion spent in medical malpractice payouts.

Common forms of medical malpractice

Failure to diagnose – If it can be proven that a competent doctor would have made an accurate diagnosis which would have resulted in less medical expenditure, a quicker recovery or a better outcome in general, then a medical malpractice case would exist.

Improper treatment – If a doctor treats the patient’s condition in a way that deviates from the standard operating procedure or in a way that no other doctor would, then a malpractice claim exists. A claim also exists if the doctor chooses the correct treatment but administers it in an incorrect way.

Failure to warn the patient of known risks – Doctors are duty-bound to warn patients of known risks of treatments they administer. This is called the duty of informed consent. If the doctor fails to inform the patient of risks and side effects of a treatment, and the patient’s situation is made worse at the treatments conclusion, then a malpractice case exists.

Requirements in medical malpractice cases

The case must be filed within the allotted time – Medical malpractice cases must be bought soon after the injury. In most states, a medical malpractice case has to be made between 6 months and 2 years after the injury. If the lawsuit isn’t filed within the right period of time, the court will dismiss the case even in very obvious cases of malpractice.

Bringing the case before a panel – Many states in the USA require that the case be bought before a medical malpractice review panel. This is a panel of experts who will review the facts and arguments from both sides of the case and review expert testimonies regarding the alleged malpractice. The panel decision is not a replacement for the court’s decision regarding the case. However, it is still a hurdle the patient or the patient’s family must overcome in the course of the case. Courts often reject medical malpractice lawsuits in cases where an expert panel has decided that malpractice did not occur so it is important to take the panel’s review seriously.

Special notice requirements – Some American states require that the party filing the lawsuit give the doctor notice of the lawsuit, in the form of a basic description before the lawsuit is filed.

Be sure you consult a medical malpractice attorney in your area if you feel you may have a malpractice case.


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