In the United States, medical malpractice takes hundreds of thousands of lives each year. It is now the third-leading cause of death after cancer and heart disease. We all take a risk when we seek healthcare, yet it’s not always obvious when that care has gone wrong. Those who suspect they have fallen victim to medical negligence should know when medical malpractice takes place and understand their options for recovery.
What is Medical Malpractice in Michigan?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other medical professional fails to act according to the accepted “standard of care” when treating a patient. The standard of care refers to the accepted course of action that another medical professional with a similar level of education and experience would have taken in a similar situation. When a doctor, nurse, emergency responder, pharmacist, or other medical professional deviates from that standard and a patient suffers harm, it may be possible to hold the responsible party liable for the damages suffered.
5 Signs You May be a Victim of Medical Malpractice
Confirming medical malpractice is a daunting task. Experiencing complications or side effects after treatment does not indicate medical malpractice or negligence on its own. A person who undergoes surgery typically understands the risks of complication beforehand. However, that person could very well have a medical malpractice case on his hands if the physician failed to disclose those risks before conducting surgery. If you experience any of the following, you may be suffering due to medical malpractice.
You’re not getting better
If you feel the same or worse after your treatment or surgery, it could be a sign that your doctor failed to diagnose your condition. If this is the case, you are at risk of suffering additional injuries from a delayed diagnosis. While you are receiving treatment for something you don’t have, the condition you do have may be getting worse. You could also experience harmful side effects from medication you don’t need.
Two different doctors give two different diagnoses
Many patients diagnosed with a serious condition or one that requires surgery are advised to seek a second opinion. If the diagnoses are completely different from one doctor to the other, there’s a chance one of them acted negligently when determining your ailment.
Your doctor based your diagnosis on lab tests alone
Lab tests can go wrong for many reasons. The people administering and evaluating the tests can make mistakes. The test itself may be faulty, the sample may be contaminated or the information wrongly interpreted. You have the right to question lab results, especially if the signs or symptoms you experience do not match those of the condition with which they diagnosed you.
Your doctor delayed your diagnosis
A medical professional may have taken longer than average to diagnose your condition. If your doctor waited so long to diagnose you that it is too late to treat your ailment effectively, you might have a malpractice case.
Doctors and other healthcare workers ignore your concerns
If your doctor and his staff fail to follow up with you after you receive care, there may be a chance that they don’t want you to discover a mistake they made. You should also consider how engaged they are with your questions and concerns. Doctors who fail to take your questions seriously or ignore them may be reluctant to provide honest information about the care they provided.
Do I have a medical malpractice case?
Many victims of medical negligence fail to receive compensation for their suffering because only the most severe medical malpractice cases make it to court. With that said, you should always speak to an attorney about your case to find out if there may be a chance to hold the negligent parties accountable for their actions. Certain facts must be established to bring forth a medical malpractice claim in Michigan:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed. You must be able to prove that you had an established physician-patient relationship with the doctor you are filing a claim against.
- The doctor acted negligently. This is one of the most difficult facts to prove. As the “plaintiff” in a medical malpractice case, you must prove to the court that your doctor deviated from the standard of care. Your attorney must establish that any other doctor with comparable education and experience, under similar circumstances, would not have acted as your doctor did. It’s not necessary for the doctor to have given the best possible care, but he should have been reasonably skillful and careful when treating you.
- The doctor’s negligence directly caused your injuries. This may be the most difficult aspect of presenting a meritorious malpractice claim. Medical malpractice cases involve patients seeking treatment because they were already hurt or sick; proving that the doctor’s incompetence is directly to blame for a particular condition can be a gargantuan task. In Michigan, you may need experts in the medical field to testify that the doctor provided substandard care.
- The injury led to specific damages. Your doctor could have displayed complete disregard for your wellbeing when providing treatment, but if you didn’t suffer because of it, you can’t sue for malpractice. Typical damages patients can sue for include physical pain, mental distress, exorbitant medical bills, lost wages and ability to make a living.
How Much Time Do I have to File a Medical Malpractice Claim in Michigan?
Each state sets a time limit for filing a medical malpractice claim called the “statute of limitations.” In Michigan, victims of medical malpractice have just two years after the physician’s act or failure to act to file a claim against the responsible parties. This is not much time considering it may take several months to realize that your doctor committed a medical error. If you received treatment in January 2017, you have until January 2019 to file a lawsuit.
If you suspect that your doctor was negligent when providing care, you have no time to lose in acquiring strong representation from a competent medical malpractice attorney in Michigan. An attorney with Michigan Legal Center can help you prepare a strong medical malpractice case that holds up to the scrutiny of the court. Contact us for a free case evaluation.