There is a wider spectrum of situations that lead to medical malpractice suits than most people realise. It’s not only breach of duty or negligence that can see a doctor being sued – failure to tell a patient of possible side effects related to a certain medication or leaving a swab inside a stomach on the operating theatre have both been the cause of malpractice claims in recent times. There are certain circumstances, however, that appear more than others on cases filed, these are listed below.
A patient could have a viable claim for medical malpractice if they can demonstrate that a competent physician would have made an earlier discovery of a patient’s illness or an alternative diagnosis. If either of these scenarios would have given the patient a better outcome they have grounds to file a claim.
Treatment Deemed to be Improper
Should a doctor treat their patient in such a way that is classed as substandard compared to the treatment a competent doctor would deliver, that patient could file a malpractice claim. Similarly, it could also be a case of malpractice if a doctor selects the best treatment but then administers in an incompetent manner.
Failure to Alert Patients to Known Risks and Side Effects
Every doctor has a duty of care to warn their patients of any known risks relating to a course of treatment or medical procedure. The legal term for this is “duty of informed consent”. Should the patient, once they have been fully informed of all possible risks, not have elected to proceed with the procedure, the physician could be guilty of medical malpractice if the patient is injured during the procedure in a way that is a known risk but not one they were warned about.
Special Requirements Relating to Medical Malpractice Cases
A lot of states have particular procedures and rules when it comes to making a claim for medical malpractice. Whilst it’s important to know the rules pertaining to your own state, your attorney will be able to guide you through this. The main one is that speed is the essence and a medical malpractice case should be filed as soon as possible after the event. This is known as the statute of limitations and could be anywhere between 6 months and 2 years, depending on your state. If your lawsuit isn’t filed within the time period specified by your state’s legislature the case will be dismissed in court, regardless of any proof you have. When this clock starts ticking also varies state by state. In some it begins when the act of negligence occurs whilst in other states it will start when it is deemed that the patient should have found the injury, or suffered the ill effects by.
Review Panels for Medical Malpractice
In many states, the first place that you would submit your malpractice claim to is to a review panel. This panel is made of experienced, impartial bodies who will listen to all arguments, review all evidence and read any testimonies. They will then decide whether medical malpractice has actually occurred. The decision of this panel won’t replace an actual lawsuit, and no damages can be awarded by the panel, but this is a hoop which a claimant must jump through if they wish their case to go to court.