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How to know if you are the victim of medical malpractice

Medical malpractice happens every day. Fortunately, many people do not suffer a negative affect on their health because the mistake is caught early or is not significant. The statistics are shocking. One of my close friends told me when he was a resident in medical school that he believed 80% of hospital patients suffer some type of malpractice, and that most of them never know about it because it is caught early and they don’t suffer a negative effect.

On top of that, medicine is a risky proposition. It is an art as much as a science and the patients rely on the expertise of their doctors many times in a way that borders on blind faith.  So when something bad happens after surgery or in someone’s health after a misdiagnosis it is hard to determine whether or not the doctor made the mistake or whether the bad thing that happened was going to happen regardless of what the doctor did. There are significant risks involved in every medical treatment, in every prescribed medication, and every surgical intervention.

The complexity that medicine brings in every legal case makes it difficult to know if you’re even a victim of medical malpractice. The best way to determine whether your negative outcome, injury or disability is due to medical malpractice is to consult with a South Florida medical malpractice lawyer. That law firm will eventually want to know a few things. Here are the issues and questions that you’ll be presented as a possible client for a Palm Beach Gardens medical malpractice attorney.

1 – The first factor that we need to know about is damages.  Prosecuting a medical malpractice case is exceptionally expensive. A typical malpractice case against the hospital or doctor can cost anywhere between $75,000 and $300,000; sometimes more! So before you begin to worry about whether or not there is medical malpractice in your treatment, know that without the damages being pretty large, without your life being very changed, without the addition of significant unnecessary medical treatment you may have a negligence case but you won’t have a case worth pursuing because you don’t have enough damages. It is not the first step for a lawyer to determine whether or not they have a case, but as a consumer, you should not be looking for a medical malpractice lawyer unless you have significant damages.

Keep in mind, you may have more damages than you realize. There are long-term effects that a medical injury can cause. For example, if an accountant loses the tip of his pinky finger because of medical negligence that may not be a big deal. He may not suffer any economic loss at all. But, if a concert violinist loses that same small bit of skin, he may be permanently and totally disabled for life and lose hundreds of thousands of dollars of income. So, while you must recognize your case must be worth damages, you must also recognize that you may have damages even though the injury is not huge!  It is the type of test that a lawyer should question you about to see if a case can be made.

Second – there must be a determination as to whether the medical provider (that includes a doctor, registered or licensed nurse, nurse midwife, physician’s assistant, physical therapist, chiropractor, or anyone else associated with the medical practice or hospital or urgent care) was “negligent.” Negligent means that the medical provider failed to provide reasonable and proper care. Reasonable and proper care is a very specific standard in medicine. There are procedures and methods to treating a human being that must be followed. Many times medical providers failed to follow their own rules. In many cases, we have found that doctors, due to a wealth of experience, stop using a procedure called “differential diagnosis” which is simply a diagnosis methodology that starts at the worst possible problem a patient may have and excludes those worst problems first before assuming we’re figuring out the most probable answer to the medical question presented. In other words, if you come into the doctor’s office breathing heavily and saying your chest hurts and that you’re coughing up green mucus, the doctor cannot jump to the conclusion that you have a chest cold. He must first rule out a number of things including cardiac arrest!  The idea behind this concept is that there is a procedure that will be followed whether you are treated in Idaho or New York City. Well-trained doctors will go through their differential diagnosis and rule out the worst things first before making the diagnosis of what you have going on.  Missing this step is one of the biggest reasons doctors get sued for medical malpractice.

Because most people have almost no specialized training in medicine it is impossible to determine on your own (even reading a lot of Google articles) whether or not you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice. It takes an expert in the field to make that determination after reviewing all of your medical records. Even experienced lawyers turn to experienced medical experts before they move forward on a medical malpractice case. It is just something that can’t be done without a thorough investigation and a lot of investment.

The interesting thing that we have found when interviewing our clients is that the behavior of the doctor often gives away the fact that there is medical malpractice involved in the case. After surgery when the patient is not getting better, or after treatment when the patient’s condition continues to get progressively worse, the negligent doctor will often run for cover or duck out of the case. Most of the clients who come into our office are angrier with their doctor’s after the malpractice happens treatment of them, then they are angry over the fact that he malpractice!  If you ever get the feeling that your doctor is not being candid, upfront, and honest and you have a negative outcome from treatment or surgery, and the damages are relatively large you must go in and have that case looked at by an attorney!

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