We put a lot of trust in our doctors. Our lives are, literally, in their hands. For this reason, it is important to hold them accountable when they cause injury. They must know that harming or misdiagnosing a patient leads to consequences.
If you have been harmed by a medical professional, knowing what to do next can be scary and confusing. To help you make clear decisions, here is a list of malpractice accusations for you to consult. You may find a situation like your own, helping you understand how to move forward.
An incorrect diagnosis can have lasting damage. You could be prescribed drugs for the wrong condition, suffering from side effects and further damage. Sometimes a diagnosis is delayed, which is also improper. If you are suffering, delay can prolong your misery. If your condition is causing damage, that injury could worsen by the time you are properly treated.
You Were Not Properly Treated
Sometimes, your condition is ignored altogether. You are cleared for release from the hospital, only to find that parts of your condition were ignored or overlooked. The staff may have recognized the need for further testing and observation, but they ordered the wrong tests, another example of improper treatment. Perhaps you were treated well initially, but the staff failed to properly instruct you on continued treatment from home. Maybe they did not request a follow-up, leaving you to believe that everything was fine. Sometimes, professionals do not thoroughly investigate your medical history. They believe they are treating you correctly, but without this knowledge, they could cause harm.
You Were Prescribed the Wrong Medication
We don’t always have the time or resources to research our medicines. We trust the professionals to make the right decisions. Sometimes, they make mistakes, prescribing the wrong medicine for your condition. This could cause the original problem to worsen or create new problems from side effects. Perhaps the doctor gave you the right drug with the wrong dosage. Too little of the drug can have little to no effect, and too much could cause damage. Ignoring your medical history, doctors may give you something that causes an allergic reaction.
Sometimes, behaviors that appear to be your fault are actually the fault of the medical professional. Doctors should be aware of a drug’s side effects, including the addictiveness of that drug. They should monitor your progress. If you become dependent on a prescription, and the doctor continues to refill your prescription, they can be held accountable for their carelessness.
These are among the most frightening examples of malpractice. Errors in surgery can leave lasting trauma, both physically and psychologically. An anesthesiologist can make mistakes with drugs, causing damage or even leaving you awake during a procedure. Sometimes, a surgeon can operate on the wrong body part or, more horrifically, the wrong person. With the many tools and surgical implements involved in a procedure, sometimes items can be left inside the wound, sealed up inside the body.
Recovery doesn’t end when you are released from the hospital. Doctors should monitor your progress, offering advice and treatment as you recover. Improper or withheld advice can lead to damage outside of the surgical room, which is also a form of malpractice.
Surgical errors are not the same as healing improperly or having a bad reaction to surgery. Sometimes, everything goes according to plan, and our bodies just have a difficult time recovering. To prove malpractice in court, you must demonstrate that there was an error in your treatment that directly led to an injury.
Some degree of injury to both mother and child is expected during birth. Nature has designed babies to recover quickly from some childbirth injuries. However, when humans intervene incorrectly, they can cause unnecessary damage. Incorrect use of forceps and vacuums can cause permanent disfigurement or even brain damage to the child. Sometimes doctors fail to recognize when either mother or fetus is in distress, causing lasting damage or even death. Failure to recognize when a caesarian section (c-section) is necessary could result in complications, such as an umbilical cord cutting off a child’s air supply. Mishandling the newborn by dropping or shaking them could cause lasting damage as well.
Common Defenses Against Malpractice
Whenever you take legal action against someone, it is important to consider their potential defenses. This will help prepare you to fight back, and it could even help you recognize how strong your case is. Remember that anyone you accuse will have attorneys of their own, and these professionals will fight as hard for their clients as yours will for you.
Claiming Avoidable Consequences
With this argument, the defense attempts to place responsibility back onto you. They claim that you were properly treated. Judging your behavior, they argue that it was you, not the doctors, who caused your injuries. For example, there are steps you should take to recover from surgery. The defendant may argue that you did not take these steps. It is important to provide your attorney with all your actions after treatment. This way, they can prepare a credible counterargument to this defense.
Using the “Substantial Minority Principle”
The “substantial minority principle” argues that while a doctor’s methods went against the norm, there are several respected physicians who use this new method with positive results. The defense can claim that they were simply trying to stay in line with the cutting edge of healthcare. Ultimately, your team can counter this argument by claiming that if the current, tested standards were followed, you would have had a better chance of receiving proper treatment.
Challenging Your Evidence
The defense can rely on their reputation to claim that, quite simply, you don’t understand what happened. They will make it seem as though everything went according to plan, and your injuries were simply a natural part of recovery. Make sure that your legal team researches your condition, readying themselves to counter these assertions with hard, verifiable science.
Claiming No Causal Relationship
The defense could attempt to relate your injuries to something else. They may claim that after your treatment, you engaged in an unrelated activity, and that’s where you were harmed. They could also suggest that your injuries were unavoidable. Sometimes, the defense will argue, people simply take a long time to recover, and further injury is a natural part of the recovery process.
It is important that your team arms itself with the facts, proving a direct relationship between your injury and the doctor’s malpractice.
Claiming Assumed Risk
There is an inherent degree of risk involved in medical treatment, especially in surgery. The defense may argue that you knew the risks before agreeing to the procedure, and you are therefore responsible for the resulting injuries. To counter this argument, you must prove that you were not fully informed of the dangers involved. Also, you could demonstrate that you were pressured into undergoing treatment, and the risk was undermined.