Medical malpractice comes in many forms. It can be a wrong diagnosis, a surgical error, a prescription drug mistake, a birth and delivery error, or even a hospital acquired illness. The underlying premise behind medical malpractice is negligence, i.e., the doctor made some type of mistake that breached his profession’s standard duty of care.
If you recently suffered harm from what you suspect might be medical malpractice, you will want to start working on a few things right away. Below, we share five of the first tasks you need to begin. For more detailed information about medical malpractice, feel free to browse our articles in our online library.
1) Start seeing another doctor.
If you suffered harm because of your doctor’s error, you will probably need additional care. You might need treatment to combat and deal with whatever complications your doctor caused, as well as correct treatment for your original injury. Do not continue to receive care from the doctor you suspect harmed you or provided you with negligent care. Find yourself another doctor.
You can find a reputable doctor by performing a search on HealthGrades, a free online database of doctors. You can search by specialty and location and see each doctor’s profile, which includes information about their practice areas, customer satisfaction ratings, reviews, location, and contact information.
Tell the new doctor your concerns about your care, but do not accuse your original doctor of malpractice. This could potentially cause issues in your malpractice case. You can bring up your concerns with your care, just make sure you stick to the facts and keep legal issues out your conversations.
2) Request a certified copy of your medical records.
Your medical records are probably going to be the single most valuable piece of evidence in your case should you decide to file a medical malpractice suit. Your records might indicate lapses in care, errors in judgment, or a medical history that your doctor failed to review.
For instance, let us say your medical file clearly says that heart disease runs in your family. You visit the doctor complaining of chest tightness and palpitations. The doctor fails to read over your file, so he is not aware that you are in a high-risk category for heart problems. He sends you home, diagnosing it as anxiety instead of ordering tests to rule out heart issues. Soon after, you suffer a near-fatal heart attack. This is a clear-cut case of negligence, and your medical file will be very instrumental in proving your case to the insurer or courts.
Contact the doctor you suspect harmed you and request a certified copy of your entire medical file. You will want to make two copies of the file, one to share with your new doctor, and one to give your attorney. Keep the original certified medical file safe at home.
3) Keep a health journal.
You will also want to begin a health journal, and jot down some notes in it each day. Record the effects of your health condition, the progress and status of your health, and information about the care you receive. Also, be sure to write down the treatments you take and their efficacy.
Your attorney will be able to use this journal to better evaluate your case and prove malpractice. As an added step, try jotting down your pain levels (on a scale of one to 10, one being negligible pain and 10 being excruciating pain) and symptoms each day, and your health and pain levels affected your daily life. These items are important to include because they can help prove your non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, inconvenience, and harm to your family relationships.
An entry for a patient with heart issues might look something like this:
January 30, 2016
I saw my new doctor today for another stress test for my heart. He said I needed to reduce my activity and take it easy. He also increased my prescription for Warfarin. I had chest pains in the morning (pain was a level five). I was too worried about overexertion that I could not play outside with my daughter in the afternoon, which really upset her. My doctor also told me that I cannot coach my son’s basketball team anymore because I may overexert myself.
You are probably very busy, but it only takes a moment to write down a few notes, and your journal can truly benefit your case and, when all is said and done, actually win you more money..
4) Deal with insurance adjusters correctly.
When you file a medical malpractice claim, you will have to deal with your doctor’s liability insurance company. While the adjuster you talk to may be polite and sound caring, it is important to keep in mind that she received training to minimize the insurance company’s costs and its payouts to victims. Insurance adjusters may employ several tactics, such as getting you to admit fault for your injury, claiming your injury was pre-existing, or refuting the severity of your harm, to decrease the value of your claim.
There are certain things to keep in mind as you are dealing with the insurer.
- Do not agree to a recorded statement. You might inadvertently say something that can harm your case. Speak to a Philadelphia lawyer first.
- Do not accept the first settlement offer they give you. It will likely be a figure that is much lower that what your case is actually worth. Have an attorney help determine the fairness of any offers and negotiate with the insurer for a fuller settlement.
- Do not sign any documents without legal advice. This applies not only to settlement offers, but also to all documents, such as waivers, release forms, questionnaires, etc. Documents with small print can be very hard to understand and you do not want to unknowingly give away your rights.
5) Talk to a Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney.
If you suspect medical malpractice, call an attorney for a case evaluation. Most malpractice law firms provide free consultations for victims, ours included. Because these types of cases involve a lot of research, large companies, medical expert testimonies, etc., most victims are just not equipped to file on their own; they need the guidance and counsel of a legal professional who can help them navigate the system and fight for restitution.
When you speak to a lawyer, explain the details of your case and what evidence you have collected so far. The lawyer will ask you a series of questions, but feel free to bring your own, too. After evaluating the facts of your case, the lawyer can determine if your case meets all the mandatory elements of medical malpractice, and then explain where to go from there.
Where can I find a medical malpractice attorney in Bucks County?
John Cordisco and his legal team at Cordisco & Saile LLC has been helping medical malpractice victims in Bucks County, Pennsylvania for over 25 years. We would be happy to review your situation, determine if you have a valid medical malpractice case, and then help you seek financial compensation for damages.