Choosing a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical Malpractice attorneys offer experienced, in-depth legal information and assistance to people who have been harmed or injured by a healthcare provider: a doctor, a nurse or anyone working in a healthcare facility. We can help you understand how the medical malpractice process works, and we can help explain your options. If you are in need of personal and professional assistance that is tailored to your situation, contacting us can place you in touch with a true practicing medical malpractice attorney who can protect your legal rights.
Your medical malpractice attorney will work with the expertise of doctors and any other necessary medical professionals to provide you with the best possibility to win your case. In the vast majority of cases, attorneys that practice broad areas of legal work (family practice, criminal law, commercial law, etc) also try to practice medical malpractice. You want an attorney that truly practices medical malpractice. Just as most health care providers offer professional and invaluable specialized services to their patients, you must choose an attorney that specifically practices medical malpractice, this means you should choose an attorney that has practiced as a medical malpractice attorney for years and has won cases similar to yours.
When Physicians and other healthcare providers perform negligently and give you sub-standard care resulting in an injury, medical malpractice law gives you a way to recover. The law provides a means to monetarily recover compensation for an injury. However, healthcare providers are not “negligently” responsible for all injuries and bad outcomes. Healthcare providers are liable for the types of injuries that occur when a healthcare provider falls “below the standard” of care that other similar competent healthcare providers give in a same or similar manner.
Common areas of medical malpractice include failure to treat, failure to diagnose, and lack of informed consent. We’ll take a closer look at each of these scenarios in the sections below.
Failure to Treat
Medical malpractice happens when a healthcare provider “Fails to Treat” a patient. When the healthcare provider knew or should have known that you needed a specific type of treatment or medication BUT the healthcare provider did not give the necessary treatment, then the healthcare provider may have committed medical malpractice. It is important to note that it is necessary, under the law, that as a result of the “failure to treat” you were injured or you were injured to a greater extent than you were already injured. An example of this is when someone goes to his/her healthcare provider and you are diagnosed with a Myocardial Infarction (heart attack)and you are not provided with the proper treatment for the heart attack in a timely manner and as a result you now have heart damage that could have been prevented OR worse yet your loved one died.
When a healthcare provider has obtained information through lab, x-ray, physical exam or other available means and the healthcare provider diagnoses the problem but fails to provide a proper, acceptable treatment to care for the patient AND the patient is injured because of the failure to treat, then the healthcare provider may be liable for the negligent act of “failure to treat.”
Failure to Diagnose
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider “Fails to Diagnose” a patient. When the healthcare provider has a patient that presents with signs and symptoms of a specific health issue that is generally known by other healthcare providers in a same or similar situation, then the healthcare provider is expected to properly diagnose the health issue. A patient is not responsible for self diagnosis of a health issue. The healthcare provider is responsible for asking all the right questions, requesting all necessary testing (lab, x-ray, other diagnostic testing) and performing an adequate full physical exam to properly diagnose the health issue.
When a healthcare provider fails to do one or more of these requirements AND as a result he/she “Fails to Diagnose” the problem then the healthcare provider is liable for the negligent act of “Failure to Diagnose.” Further, if the healthcare provider performs all of the necessary steps and processes to be able to properly diagnose the health issue you are suffering from BUT fails to recognize the abnormal presentation of your lab, x-ray, physical exam or other diagnostic criteria, the healthcare provider is liable for the negligent act of “Failure to Diagnose.”
For example, if you go to your healthcare provider and you are complaining of a pain that might be caused by something wrong with your heart and the healthcare provider performs all the proper testing and the results indicate that you are having a myocardial infarction (heart attack) BUT the healthcare provider diagnosis you with a stomach acid problem (regurgitation) and treats you for this wrong diagnosis AND as a result you suffer a heart attack resulting in permanent damage to the heart or worse yet, death, then the healthcare provider is liable for negligence as a result of a “Failure to Diagnose.”
Lack of Informed Consent
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider fails to provide full information regarding the care the provider is going to “give” to the patient. A healthcare provider is responsible for providing all information that is generally pertinent to the diagnosis and treatment recommended so the patient can make a fully informed decision on what to do. The healthcare provider (Physician, Nurse Practitioner, Physician Assistant)giving the recommended treatment is responsible for providing the information AND answering all questions the patient has regarding the proposed treatment to be received from the same healthcare provider. The healthcare provider can NOT delegate this responsibility to another individual such as a nurse or an assistant. The healthcare provider must also sign documentation showing that full consent has been properly obtained. This signature must occur in the presence of the patient and the healthcare provider giving the recommendation.
An example of obtaining proper “Informed Consent” is when the healthcare provider sits with the patient and explains the procedure to be performed, the provider then explains risk factors that may occur during or after the procedure and then the provider answers all the questions the patient has regarding all the information received. In the event this occurs and a bad outcome happens, then the healthcare provider is not liable for a bad outcome because the patient received full information and gave full Informed Consent inspite of the risks and possibility of a bad outcome. The healthcare provider is liable for the negligent act of “Lack of Informed Consent” when the healthcare provider fails to do the above AND the patient is injured AND the patient would NOT have consented to the recommended treatment IF he/she had been fully informed.