When you seek medical treatment, you never imagine that your healthcare provider might end up causing you serious harm. However, medical malpractice is much more common than you might expect. In fact, medical errors are said to be the third leading cause of death in the United States.
9 Signs That Suggest You're a Victim of Medical Malpractice
Some cases of medical malpractice are immediately obvious such as having surgery performed on the wrong body part. However, most malpractice cases involve errors that are harder to prove. If you have concerns about the care you've received, the following signs indicate you may have a valid malpractice claim:
- The doctor fails to order common diagnostic tests. Every medical condition has a list of specific symptoms and diagnostic tests that should be used to make a correct diagnosis. For example, if a patient has a change in bowel habits, blood in stools, abdominal pain, and unexplained weight loss, and colon cancer is suspected, a doctor should order a colonoscopy. A doctor who doesn't follow this standard of care may be guilty of malpractice.
- Your diagnosis is based solely on the results of one test. Generally speaking, a condition shouldn't be diagnosed based solely on the results of a single test. Results can be incorrectly interpreted or samples can be contaminated. Your doctor should confirm the results with other means before making an assessment.
- Your diagnosis is significantly delayed. It's unreasonable to expect your doctor to immediately know what's wrong with you, but alarm bells should go off if it takes several months to find a correct diagnosis. If this delay limits your treatment options, you may have a valid medical malpractice case.
- Your condition doesn't improve with treatment. Modern medicine can't work miracles, but a condition that doesn't improve despite ongoing medical care may suggest that your doctor has incorrectly diagnosed you or that appropriate treatment protocols aren't being followed. Both of these errors could constitute a malpractice claim.
- You're experiencing many complications. All medical treatment comes with some element of risk, but complications that are unexpected or more serious than anticipated warrant further investigation.
- Your healthcare provider doesn't explain treatment or answer your questions. Even though you didn't go to medical school, the doctor should explain your treatment options and answer questions related to your care before any procedures are performed. This is called obtaining informed consent.
- Your healthcare provider doesn't follow up. If you don't hear from a physician's office after a diagnosis, procedure, or treatment, this can constitute a form of malpractice. Doctors have a duty to follow up with patients as part of their medical care.
- You've received conflicting opinions. Whenever you have doubts about your medical care, it's a good idea to get a second opinion. If the second doctor's opinion is dramatically different, this is a good indication of potential malpractice.
- You were told there was a mistake in your care. Most doctors are extremely reluctant to admit liability, but some may inform patients of errors that can't easily be hidden and offer immediate compensation. If this happens, you should consult with an attorney to see if the offer is in line with the harm you have suffered.
Types of Available Compensation
A medical malpractice claim should include compensation for the following types of damages:
- Medical expenses necessary to address the effects of the error such as added surgery or prescription drug costs
- Future medical expenses, if you've been left permanently disabled due to the error
- Lost wages from any time you were unable to work due to the error
- Loss of future earning potential, if you now have a disability that will prevent you from working
- Pain and suffering
Seeking Legal Assistance
Malpractice law can be quite complex, and insurance companies will often offer settlements that are far less than what's appropriate for the harm you've suffered. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can advocate for your interests and help you receive the compensation you deserve.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's legal team is committed to protecting Louisiana residents who've been harmed by medical malpractice. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 to schedule your free consultation.