When you go to a doctor to be treated for an injury or illness, you expect your condition to improve. However, occasionally the negligence or wrongful actions of a medical professional can cause additional harm, and your overall physical and mental health deteriorates. In some cases, this medical malpractice can even lead to the death of a patient.
While we would like to think that cases of medical malpractice-related fatalities are rare, a 2013 study published in the Journal of Patient Safety found that an estimated 400,000 people die prematurely each year due to preventable harm caused to patients by medical professionals, and that 10-20 times as many people suffer from non-lethal harm each year. This means that it is more critical than ever that patients are aware of the signs of medical malpractice so that they can consult an attorney if they believe that they or a loved one was harmed, or died, as the result of a doctor or hospital’s actions. Here are a few of the signs you can look out for indicating that you or a loved one may be a victim of medical malpractice.
Failure to Diagnose
One of the most common occurrences of medical malpractice is when a disease goes undiagnosed. If a patient goes to a doctor who misses the early signs of a disease and dismisses a patient’s symptoms, this can lead to complications, or fatalities, in the future. This is particularly true of aggressive diseases such as cancer where treatment may have been effective if an early diagnosis had been made, but where a delayed diagnosis can make it much more difficult to effectively treat the patient.
Just as common, and potentially as fatal, as a late diagnosis is a misdiagnosis. When a doctor attributes a patient’s symptoms to the wrong disease, this can lead to treatments and medications being administered that not only do not help the patient, but that can actually cause the patient’s condition to deteriorate quicker. If you were misdiagnosed initially and this led to health complications, you may be a victim of medical malpractice.
Similarly, you may be a victim of medical malpractice if your symptoms do not seem to match the diagnosis you received. Even if you are not a medical professional, it is important that you stay informed about your condition and do research regarding any diagnosis you receive. If your symptoms are not common for your diagnosis, or they do not match the diagnosis you received whatsoever, then you may have been misdiagnosed and might want to consider getting a second opinion. As we previously mentioned, if it turns out you were misdiagnosed this may be considered medical malpractice, particularly if the wrong treatments were administered, which caused your condition to deteriorate further.
You Received the Wrong Medication or Dosage
Medical complications can also arise if a doctor prescribes you or a loved one with the wrong medication or an improper dosage. If a doctor prescribes the wrong medication for a condition or prescribes a medication that could interact with a patient’s current medications or health conditions, this can lead to an overdose, medical complications, or even death. It is the responsibility of every medical professional to double check to make sure that the drug they are prescribing will treat a patient’s condition, and that it will not be harmful to the patient in the dosage prescribed based on the patient’s list of medications and their medical history. When a doctor prescribes the wrong medication and this leads to complications, this is often a clear instance of medical malpractice
A Lack of Informed Consent
Many medical procedures and treatments come with a certain amount of risk of possible complications. For this reason, before administering any treatment, doctors must explain to their patient the benefits of the procedure and the potential risks involved so that the patient can make an informed decision regarding whether or not they want to undergo the treatment. When a patient suffers from complications during a procedure for which were not sufficiently informed of the risks, this can mean there was a lack of informed consent. For a lack of informed consent to be considered malpractice, a patient often must be able to prove that they were not properly informed of the risks involved in the procedure, and that had the doctor explained the risks fully the patient would have declined the treatment.
Your Doctor Admits to Making a Mistake
One of the clearest signs of medical malpractice can be if a medical professional admits fault. If a doctor admits to making a mistake that caused you harm, such as if they administered the wrong treatment after misdiagnosing you, then it is likely that you have a medical malpractice case on your hands and you should consider consulting an attorney. However, it is important to remember that many medical professionals will not admit fault, which is why it is important that patients know the signs of medical malpractice, and that they know what their rights are if they believe they are a victim of malpractice. Also, some states have laws permitting medical providers to express remorse when a procedure or treatment doesn’t turn out well without fearing that the apology will be turned against them as evidence of malpractice.
A Family Member Dies During or After a Medical Procedure
While death is often a risk during many surgeries, if a loved-one died during a routine procedure or was in stable condition at the hospital but died after being moved to a different facility, then he may have been a victim of negligence or mistreatment. The fact is that medical negligence can take many forms. If your loved-one suffered harm after being neglected by hospital staff, subjected to the wrong surgery, or administered too many medications, then you should consider consulting a malpractice attorney.
Know When to Contact an Attorney
If any of the above signs apply to your situation, then you may have been the victim of medical malpractice and should consider consulting an experienced medical malpractice attorney. You may be entitled to compensation. Call Abels & Annes, P.C. at (312) 924-7575 or contact us online for a free consultation to find out more about the signs of medical malpractice, or if you believe that you or a loved one has been a victim of malpractice.