Medical malpractice at the hands of a doctor is a frightening thought – doctors are inherently trusted to make us better, not worse. If you do find yourself looking at malpractice, you need to know how to claim for negligence, and what legal options are available to you.
Medical malpractice is professional negligence by act or omission by a health care provider in which care provided deviates from accepted standards of practice in the medical community and causes injury or death to the patient, with most cases involving medical error. (www.wikipedia.com)
Note that medical malpractice is not limited to doctors; it can also apply to nurses, dentists, osteopaths, health care facilities (problems with medication, hygiene or treatment) and health care services such as nursing homes.
Negligence takes place when a medical professional’s actions do not meet the accepted standards of practice. Negligence can occur in one of these three stages of health care:
- Incorrectly diagnosing or misdiagnosing a condition
- Delaying the diagnosis, resulting in a less favourable or unfortunate outcome
- Reporting incorrectly on test results
- Performing surgery without the proper care and skill
- Providing post-operative care without the proper attention and skill
- Failing to provide the appropriate referral for the condition
- Treating a condition inappropriately
3. Illness management
- Providing insufficient warning, or no warning at all, of the risks associated with a procedure or treatment
- Failing to inform the patient of alternative treatments or procedures
If you have suffered or suspect you have suffered negligence, you have the right to look at your own chart and medical records. You also have the right to contact a medical malpractice lawyers who would then take your case to court.
There are 4 steps to provide medical malpractice, all of which must be proved in winning a negligence claim. These steps are:
- Prove that the health care worker owed you a duty of care. A legal duty to take care exists whenever a health care worker accepts responsibility for your treatment or care.
- The duty of care was breached. In the event that the health care worker is negligent, the duty of care is breached.
- The breach of duty caused you an injury.
- Damages – you must have suffered a loss
The damages you suffer from medical malpractice can take the form of any of the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Cost of medical treatment later to rectify the negligence
- Loss of income- either for time or from work or due to you no longer being able to do the work you did prior to the negligence.
Munro Flowers and Vermaak is a law firm specializing in medical malpractice. One case they took on concerned a young boy who had a brain tumour. The boy was mis-diagnosed at a time when it was still operable, and the operation to remove the tumour could have been successfully completed. In this case, the boy received ample compensation to take care of all his future medical needs, and was also compensated for loss of income and pain and suffering.
Medical malpractice is something we hope will never happen to us. If it does, be informed about your choices, and ensure you bring a negligence claim to court to fight for your compensation.