Medical professionals are often considered to be among the most intelligent and trustworthy members of our society. We place a lot of trust in physicians and hospitals to help preserve and protect our health, and we tend to view the medical profession as infallible. But what happens when the actions of a healthcare professional hurt you?
Poor medical treatment or an incorrect diagnosis can have devastating effects, affecting your quality of life and your long-term health. For some, medical errors result in death. How do you and your family begin to recover from such an event?
When the trust you have in the medical profession is damaged in this way, you may want to pursue a medical malpractice claim.
What is medical malpractice?
The medical community operates within certain standards of care, and as a patient you have the right to expect these standards to be upheld. Failure to meet these standards, particularly when the outcome is harmful to a patient, can constitute malpractice.
Examples of malpractice include:
- Failure to recognize symptoms
- Failure to diagnose/misdiagnosis
- Failure to order proper testing
- Failure to review patient history/disregarding patient history
- Misinterpreting or ignoring lab results
- Improper medication or dosage
- Unnecessary surgery
- Surgery errors
- Wrong site surgery
- Premature discharge
- Inadequate care following surgery or treatment
The most common types of medical malpractice claims are those of failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis, improper medical care, and failure of the physician to warn the patient of the known risks of a course of treatment. If you or a loved one have have been a victim of below-standard medical care, pursuing a malpractice claim can help you to receive compensation for your pain and suffering. Pursuing this claim, however, has several steps, which an experienced attorney can help you to navigate.
Basic requirements for a claim
For a medical malpractice claim to be filed, certain criteria must be established. First, it must be established that a doctor-patient relationship existed - essentially, that you hired the doctor to treat you and that the doctor agreed to be hired. This relationship extends to other members of the physician's staff, as well, in the course of your treatment. Next, it must be shown that the doctor was negligent in his or her treatment of your condition, meaning that he or she deviated from a reasonably skillful and careful standard of care. Following that, it must be shown that the negligence was harmful to you, causing injury. Specific damages from this injury will need to be established - up to and including physical pain, mental pain and anguish, financial issues caused by additional medical costs, and loss of income due to inability to work.
In most states, there is a statute of limitations established, providing a window of time for a claim to be filed. In Indiana, that statute is two years, and the clock starts running on the date on which the medical error occurred.
Steps to take
Contacting an attorney with experience in malpractice cases is a smart first step. Your attorney will examine the facts and help you to determine if you have a case. Because the statute of limitations in Indiana is two years, you'll want to take steps to pursue a malpractice claim as soon as you suspect malpractice occurred. In the state of Indiana, if you are suing for less than $15,000, you can proceed with filing the initial claim. If you are seeking damages greater than $15,000, your complaint must be submitted to a medical review panel before it can proceed to court. As your case progresses, your attorney will guide you in gathering information, such as instructing you to get copies of your medical records or seek an independent medical assessment of your condition.
You don't have to live with the aftermath of a medical error. Gerling Law has experience in navigating the process of malpractice claims, and we can help you to receive compensation for your pain and suffering. The clock is ticking - don't wait any longer... contact Gerling Law today!