You trust your doctor with your health, as well as the health of your family members in many cases. You depend on them to diagnose your symptoms as they arise and to help you connect with treatments that will work.
Most medical practitioners are diligent in staying up-to-date on the most cutting-edge treatments and ensuring that they adhere to the best practices when it comes to diagnosing and treating illnesses and injuries. Still, doctors, surgeons and other medical professionals are all human, which means they are prone to errors in judgment, exhaustion and oversight or forgetfulness, which can lead to claims of medical malpractice.
When your doctor makes a mistake, the consequences for your health or finances can prove devastating. From drastically increasing the cost of care that you need to reducing your long-term earning potential and independence, medical mistakes can have a profound impact on your health and quality of life. There are certain steps you should take if you believe your doctor made a mistake with direct consequences for your health.
Get a second opinion from a different medical practice
The first step toward establishing that the physician caring for you made a mistake is to have another doctor review your records or symptoms. They can provide you with diagnostic advice, as well as what they feel are the best treatment options.
If what another doctor says diverges substantially from the advice provided by your own physician, you may have grounds to bring a malpractice claim against your doctor for an inadequate standard of care or failure to diagnose your condition in a timely manner.
Start gathering documentation of how the mistake affects your life
In some cases, medical mistakes have an obvious, undeniable impact on your life. A surgical mistake that results in the amputation of the wrong foot, for example, will produce a severe disability not experienced by someone with the properly conducted amputation. Similarly, if a doctor fails to order testing and does not diagnose you with cancer in a timely manner, the disease may progress substantially before you finally secure an adequate diagnosis and the treatment you need to recover.
In other cases, it may not be quite as clear-cut how a doctor's mistake will impact your life. From documenting your experience through videos, photographs and even personal essays or letters, to showing a reduction in your income or an increase in other costs related to your medical issue, there are many ways in which you can put together evidence to demonstrate how your physician's mistake has impacted your quality of life and cost you money.
In some cases, you may be able to bring a claim against their medical malpractice insurance for a reasonable settlement. Other times, it may be necessary to go to court to get the full compensation that you deserve.