With any job, cases of negligence and malpractice are bound to occur from time to time. In some sensitive fields, though, the smallest of mistakes can have terminal effects. With a field like medicine, there is a reason why it is seen as one of the noblest pursuits; doctors are literally entrusted with someone’s life. Negligence and malpractice incidents in medicine are never taken lightly. Regardless of the severity of the case, it will still have an effect on someone’s health and well being. When you check yourself into a hospital, you surrender yourself in the hands of doctors and nurses and hope for the best. Most of us, unfortunately, are too scared to ask the essential question of “what if something goes wrong?” and consequently end up failing to take necessary precautions.
This is exactly why this article will shed light on things you must know about medical negligence and malpractice:
What is medical malpractice?
As per law, malpractice in medicine refers to any act of negligence or omission by doctors or health care providers that result in harming or injuring a patient. Most common situations of medical malpractice are reported to be due to misdiagnosing or failure to diagnose following wrongful treatments and sometimes may even cause death. Other errors include unnecessary surgery or lack of follow up.
Risks of Medical Malpractice
Now that you understand the meaning of medical malpractice, it is important to discuss the possible consequences. It is true that in extreme cases such negligence can lead to death, however, there are multitudes of other possible complications a victim can endure. Loss of vital senses like sight or hearing is not uncommon in cases where surgeries are wrongly performed. While other cases might leave the victims of malpractice permanently disabled and have to rely on help to fulfill basic daily needs. Sometimes the consequences endured are not physical, but mental. These are common when a doctor falsely prescribes drugs that can send the patient into cases of depression or hallucinations. These are unfortunately more difficult to identify since symptoms can take a relatively longer time to transpire. That is why identifying a medical malpractice needs thorough inspection and a close follow up, which brings us to the next point.
How to know if you have been a victim of medical negligence?
Normally, it is not easy to identify such cases. However, if you suffer a specific injury or harm that you believe has resulted from a recent medical intervention, you shouldn’t dismiss medical malpractice. Alternatively, there are cases where people find they have been a victim of medical malpractice by accident, after seeing a different doctor that informs them that they have been taken the wrong medicine or dosage. Affected people have the right to pursue legal compensation to make up for the inflicted harm.
How to act if you have been found a victim?
Once either of the above conditions transpires; this should be enough to start seeking legal aid. You will need to find a specialized law firm to guide you through this process and represent you in court if needed. You will be asked to present all medical documents hoping to prove that you have received a substandard level of medical care. Usually, medical malpractice cases are resolved through settlements, but, taking the matter to court is not a rare occurrence. This can take a long time and be frustrating to victims and their families, especially if they are rightfully entitled to compensation.
Does any medical error count as malpractice?
The simple answer is no. Each country has its own laws that include a set of criteria for malpractice to be treated as such. Those usually have to entail a provided medical service, proof that it was not performed properly, and resulting harm. With any of these essential conditions missing, judges will have the right to dismiss the case due to lack of sufficient evidence. For example, harms caused due to the patient not following the doctor’s instructions after surgery cannot be considered malpractice.
How to avoid or limit medical negligence?
With humans involved, there is always room for error. That being said, hospitals and medical institutions need to put in effect rigorous measures to closely discern and govern all medical practices. There needs to be a strict quality management committee responsible for enforcing corrective actions when needed.
Unfortunately, medical negligence is more common than desired. But doctors and health care professionals need to live by their oath, where they pledge their respect for human life and act accordingly.