We place a lot of trust in doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. However, our levels of trust are not always appropriate. The actions (or lack thereof) of healthcare professionals can sometimes rise to a level of medical malpractice.
A recent study by Johns Hopkins revealed that medical errors account for more than 250,000 American lives every year. Medical malpractice in the United States is, therefore, the third-leading cause of death after cancer and heart disease.
How can medical malpractice be identified? If you are not a medical expert, recognizing malpractice can be challenging. Here are three signs that indicate you might be the victim of medical malpractice.
Lack of informed consent
All medical treatments and procedures carry risks. Under Pennsylvania law, a doctor, and not a subordinate, is required to obtain the patient’s full, knowing, and voluntary consent prior to the following procedures: (a) performing surgery, including the related administration of anesthesia; (b) administering radiation or chemotherapy; (c) administering a blood transfusion; (d) inserting a surgical device or appliance; and (e) administering an experimental medication, using an experimental device or using an approved device or medication in an experimental manner must explain the potential risks and benefits of a procedure. The patient can then make an informed decision on whether the medical procedure is worth the risk.
After a procedure, if you are suffering from complications that were not spelled out by your doctor, there could have been a lack of informed consent. To prevail in a lawsuit, you must prove the doctor did not inform you of the material facts, risks, complications and alternatives which a reasonable person in the patient’s situation would consider significant in deciding whether to undergo the procedure. One must also prove that the undisclosed information would have been a substantial factor in the decision whether to undergo the procedure.
A healthcare professional admits a mistake
When your doctor admits fault, then you have a solid medical malpractice case. The bad news is medical practitioners rarely admit mistakes.
It is also worth mentioning that many states (including Pennsylvania) have “I’m sorry laws” that allow medical providers to express remorse when a treatment does not go well. In these states, a doctor can tell a patient or family they are sorry about an outcome and that apology cannot be used in court as an admission that they did something wrong or negligent. If they admit to negligence or a mistake at the time of the apology, however, then you can use it in court.
Delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis
Misdiagnosis can have devastating effects. A misdiagnosis can lead to physical impairments, debilitating pain and even death. Most of these victims will have several side effects from receiving the wrong treatment. A delayed diagnosis can have the same outcomes, especially when the condition worsens.
If any of the three signs apply to your current status, you may be a victim of medical malpractice. An experienced attorney can help you analyze your situation.