It is important to recognize that a bad outcome alone does not indicate that medical malpractice took place. All medical procedures come with a certain level of risk. While that level can vary dramatically from procedure to procedure, the reality is that there is always a possibility of a bad outcome. For that reason, it can be challenging to determine whether a bad outcome was simply a potential risk or the result of carelessness or wrongdoing on the part of a doctor, nurse or any other medical professional.
However, there are signs that patients should watch for that may indicate that medical malpractice caused the poor outcome. Some of those signs include:
- The outcome falls outside of normal risks for the procedure: While all medical procedures have risks, the risks are typically known and the patient may be educated about them ahead of time. If the outcome falls outside of all known risks, that may be a sign of an issue.
- Clear mistakes: In some cases, the mistakes are not subtle. If a surgeon performed surgery on the wrong part of the body or prescribed the wrong medication, a patient may want to consider that they have been the victim of medical malpractice.
- Admission of errors: When discussing the situation in a follow up appointment, the doctor, a nurse, a member of the surgical staff or another party may outright admit that they did something incorrectly, or that something went wrong. These admissions of guilt should compel patients to take further action.
- Unwillingness to answer questions: Patients always have the right to ask questions to understand what exactly happened. If a doctor or any other medical professional refuses to answer questions, this may be a sign that something went wrong during the procedure.
- Conflicting information: If doctor accounts, medical records or other information is inconsistent or missing, this may be a sign of an issue. Not surprisingly, many instances of medical malpractice are the result of documentation or communication errors.
Remember that medical malpractice can take many forms. Surgical errors are an extreme form of medical malpractice. Misdiagnosis of a medical condition is much more common. There are also medication errors, birth injuries and much more. Each one is extremely different, often with different causes. In some cases, the mistake could originate in a medical lab. In others, it might have occurred on the operating table.
What patients should keep in mind is that they have the right to answers. When answers and information about a bad outcome are not forthcoming, or if there is any reason to believe that a mistake was made, patients have the right to consult with an attorney to review the case and determine if there is sufficient evidence of medical malpractice to move forward with a claim for compensation.
The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.
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