What Can You Do When Injured by a Medical Professional?
We’ve all heard the horror stories – a dentist who mangles a patient’s mouth, a surgeon who operates without regard to infection control, or a chiropractor who goes too far and causes a patient to need treatment to heal from the chiropractor’s abuse. In 2012, more than $3 billion was spent in medical malpractice payouts, averaging one payout every 43 minutes.
Medical malpractice claims can result in the doctor’s insurance company paying a settlement to the affected patient, or patient’s family. A medical malpractice lawsuit will involve an attorney building a case to show that the medical professional did not meet the accepted “standard of care” that is associated with the specific treatment. For example, if a dentist does not properly sterilize his or her instruments before using them on a patient, that is a clear violation of the standard of care. If the patient contracts a disease that can be attributed to the dentist’s unsanitary conditions, a malpractice claim exists.
Witnesses will be called for this case, including office staff to testify about the office’s policies and procedures, and anyone who witnessed the treatment. These witnesses will be asked to testify about what happened during the medical treatment. Expert witnesses will also be asked to testify about the accepted standard of care, and about what should happen during care of a patient.
When you’re injured by the actions of a medical professional, remember that insurance companies will want to settle quickly, and will often discourage patients from speaking with attorneys. Keep in mind that the full extent of your injury may take some time to understand, and your attorney will help you determine if you have a case, and discuss your next steps.
When you meet with an attorney, you should bring anything that documents your experience: medical records, photographs, names and contact information of witnesses who can support your claim of being injured as a result of negligent care.
In addition, Pennsylvania’s Department of State Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs accepts complaints from the public against professionals who are licensed by state boards. This includes chiropractors, doctors, nurses, dentists, massage therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, podiatrists, psychologists, and even veterinarians and funeral directors!
If you are considering a malpractice claim against a professional, you should also report the incident to the Department of State. Their investigators may uncover patterns of unsafe treatment, and the state’s professional boards can levy fines, order additional education, or even suspend or revoke a professional’s license to ensure that other patients are not subjected to unsafe treatments.
If you have been injured or harmed in any way by a medical professional, and you believe it is a case of malpractice, contact us today to discuss the specifics of your case.Check out other articles by Lepley, Engelman, Yaw & Wilk.
Read a 2021 update on Medical Malpractice.