Professional accountability is vital in the medical profession, as innocent patients with no medical knowledge rely on the directions and actions of doctors to seek healing. When doctors administer any form of treatment, they have the mandate to exercise a high level of care to ensure no harm is done to the patient.
When a patient suffers harm resulting from medical negligence, one potential recourse is to institute a medical malpractice suit. However, statistics indicate that many people who have suffered at the hands of medical negligence have never pursued compensation, because of the misconceptions surrounding medical malpractice.
Brian Snyder of Snyder Wenner, a medical malpractice law firm, outlines some of the common misconceptions, “[Many patients mistakenly believe] that they cannot sue because they signed a consent document, that they will never be able to hold powerful doctors or large hospital chains accountable, and that ‘things happen’ sometimes, so there is no reason or basis to sue.”
Consents waive your right to sue
Specific medical procedures require that patients sign a consent agreeing to certain procedures or surgeries. Consents are regarded as contracts; therefore, most patients assume that even if the treatment causes harm, the consent waives their right to seek compensation.
In a medical malpractice claim, the patient has an obligation to prove their case; despite having signed a consent, if a patient can prove negligence, then a medical malpractice claim can still be filed.
Medical malpractice claims are only for surgeries
Simple research on medical malpractice claims often brings forth cases surrounding surgeries. Most people assume that they must, therefore, suffer harm resulting from a surgery to pursue a medical malpractice claim.
This is a misconception that’s not true. If a doctor misdiagnosed a patient and they end up suffering harm, the patient might have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
The patient is always right, and the doctor is always wrong
The human body is built differently, and at times, a suggested course of treatment might react with a patient’s body, resulting in harm. Contrary to popular misconception, such cases don’t strictly warrant rushing to institute a medical malpractice claim.
While doctors must maintain a high standard of care when offering treatment, there is always a margin for error. A doctor’s liability can only arise where a patient proves that the doctor’s actions amounted to negligence, or actions which a reasonable doctor would not have undertaken.
A medical malpractice lawsuit is an expensive affair
While legal fees can be costly, your current financial status should not dictate your pursuit for justice. Some attorneys are agreeable to contingent fees, meaning if you win, you pay the accumulated legal fees, and if you lose you walk away without paying.
Under contingent fee arrangements, if your claim is successful, the attorney will calculate the legal fees, bring the outstanding fee note to your attention, deduct the fees from the judgment award and proceed to deposit the rest of the award into your account.
The decision to institute a medical malpractice claim always remains with the patient, but by educating yourself on common misconceptions, you’ll be better prepared to decide whether you can commence a suit for the recovery of damages.