There are more than 80 million new medical malpractice cases filed in the United States every year. Many of these cases involve patients who suffered life-changing conditions after meeting with a doctor or going through surgery. With both federal and state laws holding doctors accountable for their actions, patients must understand that help does exist.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Experts define medical malpractice as an injury or a similar problem that occurs due to a doctor’s negligence or actions. A doctor who misdiagnosis a patient may be guilty of misconduct. Many malpractice cases also occur after surgery or operation. This can include a doctor who leaves a tool or instrument behind in a patient and a patient who develops a more series medical condition as the result of the decisions the doctor makes during the surgery. Approximately 33 percent of all cases involve a misdiagnosis, and more than 40 percent of all patients who file malpractice cases do so because of the treatment or diagnosis was given to them by a medical doctor.
Who Can File a Claim?
There are three types of cases that the courts allow patients to file. The first refers to negligence on the part of the doctor. This includes doctors who do not use the right treatments or act in ways that are not beneficial to their patients. The second type of case also involves negligence. Patients must prove that the negligence of a doctor led to specific problems. Patients can also file claims if a particular treatment resulted in some pain or suffering. Federal law requires that all patients filing lawsuits must have an existing professional relationship with that doctor. Patients can only file if they sought the doctor out and paid for his or her services.
Types of Medical Malpractice
Courts across the United States identify three key types of medical malpractice:
•Lack of proper treatments
•Lack of informed consent
Informed consent refers to the way in which a doctor talks to his or her patients about risk factors and side effects of different medications and treatments. If a patient suffers from a condition or severe side effect, the doctor can be held responsible. Doctors who misdiagnose patients and those who do not give patients access to the right treatments are also guilty of malpractice.
Settling Outside of Court
When a patient files a lawsuit against a doctor with the help of an attorney, the patient can either go to court and explain the issue in front of a judge and jury or settle the case out of court. Solving a case allows both parties to avoid a lengthy trial and gives patients the opportunity to receive the compensation that they need for medical bills, lost wages, and other costs. Lawyers will talk with their clients about whether a settlement or a trial is a better option.
Not Just Medical Bills
A misdiagnosis can leave a patient facing thousands of dollars in medical bills. The compensation they receive can help them pay for those medical bills and for other costs they incurred while seeking treatment. They also receive compensation for wages they lost when their conditions prevented them from working. Courts can also determine the amount needed for emotional pain and suffering. The average amount that patients receive is in the $300,000 range, but courts can also award higher amounts based on emotional pain and medical bills. Going through a court trial or working out a settlement agreement can be stressful, but attorneys can help clients reduce their stress and work through the process.