When someone goes to a medical provider for treatment, they’re trusting that the doctor or health care professional will adhere to strict guidelines. Patients also trust that the doctor will provide a standard of care in line with medical guidelines. When healthcare professionals fail to provide this standard of care, you might be able to file a med mal (medical malpractice) lawsuit against them.
Medical malpractice lawsuits are fairly complex and have added processes compared to other types of personal injury claims. It’s important to hire a skilled medical malpractice lawyer who can guide you through the process of working toward a resolution after you’ve suffered at the hands of a medical professional.
We’ll guide you through the main things you need to know about spotting signs of med mal, filing a claim, and getting in contact with a lawyer.
Signs of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can be difficult to spot at first. But when you visit a medical professional, be sure to pay close attention and stay aware of your rights. If you do, you should be able to spot medical malpractice before it becomes too serious.
Here are some signs of medical malpractice:
- Misdiagnosis: medical professionals who attribute a patient’s symptoms to the wrong causes will then recommend improper treatments and medications that do nothing to help a patient get better. When a misdiagnosis leads to further health complications, you might have a medical malpractice case.
- Failure to diagnose: when a doctor dismisses a patient’s symptoms or ignores the early signs of disease, the patient can suffer further ailments or even death. Some diseases are more important to catch early, such as cancer. Early diagnosis can help stop the disease before it spreads too fast. Failing to diagnose can constitute medical malpractice.
- Prescribing the wrong medication or dosage: when a doctor prescribes a medication that has negative interactions with another drug you are taking or prescribes the drug at an improper dosage, you can suffer serious medical complications. Medical providers are required to ask about other drugs you are taking and prescribe medication carefully to avoid such severe consequences. Unsafe prescribing practices can be considered medical malpractice.
- Failure to obtain informed consent: doctors are required to explain the risks and possible complications of a procedure before beginning it. They must detail the benefits along with the potential risks so that a patient can provide informed consent. Patients who suffer complications that were not properly explained to them beforehand could have a valid medical malpractice case.
- A second opinion makes it clear your original diagnosis was incorrect: if something feels off about your medical care, it’s a good idea to get a second opinion, especially if your doctor is recommending an invasive surgery or procedure that makes you uncomfortable. Listen to your instincts and get a second opinion. If the diagnosis differs, you might have a medical malpractice case.
- A loved one dies during a procedure or shortly thereafter: if you’ve lost a loved one to a medical procedure, you might have a medical malpractice or wrongful death case. While it certainly won’t bring back your loved one, filing a claim might help you deter future malpractice from that medical professional.
- A doctor says they made a mistake: doctors who admit to misdiagnoses, improper treatment, or prescribing the wrong medication or dosage could be admitting guilt to a medical malpractice situation. This is why it’s so important that you recognize the signs of medical malpractice and protect yourself as soon as you notice something isn’t right.
Legal Process for Filing a Med Mal Claim
First and foremost, you need to contact an Indiana med mal attorney. Your attorney will walk you through the various steps of filing a claim and guide you along the way.
According to Indiana Code section 34-18-8-4, before you can formally file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must file a complaint with a medical review panel. The panel generally consists of an attorney and three health care providers. They will review your medical records and discuss the matter with witnesses.
In a sense, the review panel is like a mini judge and jury. They’ll evaluate all evidence you submit to determine whether or not the health care provider in question failed to comply with the relevant rules and regulations. If the provider failed to provide the standard of care when treating you, the panel will include that in their report.
Once the report is complete and you decide whether to proceed with a medical malpractice lawsuit, the medical review panel report can be entered as evidence in your case. You’ll still need to prove that the medical provider failed to meet the standard of care, but the report offers further proof in the matter.
When to Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
You should contact a medical malpractice lawyer immediately once you suspect that something isn’t right with your medical care. In Indiana, there is a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims. The sooner you seek out a medical malpractice lawyer, the better, as you’ll be more prepared to file a strong claim within the given timeframe.
Stewart & Stewart is a highly respected team of attorneys in Indiana. Contact us for a free consultation where we’ll help you evaluate whether you have a medical malpractice case. We look forward to assisting you.