Frequently Asked Questions about Medical Malpractice
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What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical Malpractice is basically negligence that is committed by a physician, doctor, surgeon, nurse, hospital worker, or other professional health care provider. In a medical malpractice claim, the injured party must prove that the health care practitioner deviated from the standard of care during the medical treatment, resulting in injury.
If a Patient is Not Satisfied with the Results of a Surgery, can they File for Malpractice?
Not necessarily- unsuccessful or unexpected results do not automatically mean that medical malpractice has occurred. In order to succeed on a medical malpractice claim, the patient generally must show that they were injured or suffered some type of measurable loss as a result of the doctor’s breach.
What does “Informed Consent” mean?
Informed consent requirements basically state that a physician must tell their patient of any risks, benefits, and potential side effects that may occur with a given treatment. They must also inform them of any alternatives to the treatment. After informing the patient, the physician must obtain the patient’s consent in writing before proceeding. Failure to obtain a patient’s informed consent may result in a malpractice lawsuit. Informed consent documents are particularly important for major surgeries.
Does an Informed Consent Form release a Doctor from all Liability?
No- even if you signed an informed consent form, you may still be able to recover in cases where your doctor was negligent in rendering medical treatment. For example, if you can prove that your physician did not follow proper standards of care during the treatment, and that it resulted in your injury, you may have a negligence claim. Also, if the doctor performed steps that went beyond the scope of your consent, you may even have a case for medical battery.
Is a Consent Form required for a Doctor who is Prescribing Experimental Medications?
Your health care provider has a duty to inform you whether prescription medicines are being used in conjunction with an experimental program. They should obtain your consent before prescribing the experimental medication. Again, failure to obtain your inform consent could lead to legal liability.
If you are unfamiliar with any drugs or medicines being prescribed to you, you have the right to inquire as to their nature and usage in any programs. You also have a right to refuse the treatment as well.
What are “Certificates of Merit”?
In many states a plaintiff is often required to file a certificate of merit before they can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. A certificate of merit basically states that the plaintiff’s attorney has consulted with an expert in the medical field. The medical expert will review the plaintiff’s medical records and information regarding the malpractice incident to verify that the lawsuit has merit.
What Steps Should I Take if I Think I have a Medical Malpractice Issue?
First, you should compile all the related documents, such as medical receipts, hospital bills, and any contact information. You may also wish to create a written account of the incident(s) while the memories are still fresh in your recollection. You should present these to an attorney who can review the information to determine the doctor’s liability. Be sure to take action as soon as you recognize a problem- medical malpractice lawsuits often have a time limit as to when you can file a claim.
Do I need a Lawyer for Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice issues should not be taken lightly, especially if you have been severely injured or suffered extreme losses due to the negligence. You may be able to recover the costs associated with your injuries, and other types of damages as well (such as lost wages). A personal injury lawyer can assist you in filing a claim and can represent you in court. Also, an attorney can be of great assistance for alternative legal procedures such as mediation.
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Last Modified: 06-07-2013 03:24 PM PDT
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