When you go to the doctor, you are putting your life in someone else’s hands. You trust that person to properly diagnose your illness and to provide the right treatment and medication. Yet many people who go the hospital for what should be a routine surgery never wake up. Some are given the wrong medication. Some are treated for the wrong disease after their medical charts are confused with another patient’s.
Some people believe that a bad outcome or side effects after a surgery or other medical treatment are just the risks involved — that these things “just happen.” However, in many cases, these outcomes are actually the result of medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor is found negligent by deviating from the standard of care, which is defined as the care that another doctor would provide under similar circumstances. For example, a doctor would not provide the same care for a healthy 20-year-old for pneumonia as for a senior citizen with pneumonia who also has a compromised immune system. There is a different standard of care based on the individual circumstances of each patient.
Medical malpractice can include misdiagnosis of illness or injury; failure to conduct the appropriate tests or provide the proper medication; or serious injuries resulting from negligence, such as spinal injuries, head trauma, or birth injury. Standard of care takes into account a variety of factors, so there can be wide disagreement on whether or not a doctor is guilty of negligence. That’s why it is critical that you meet with a Baltimore medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible if you believe that you have been a victim of medical negligence.
Your attorney will ask you to gather as much documentation as you can, including receipts or checkout slips you receive after your doctor visits, test results, and procedure summaries. You should also request a copy of your medical records as soon as possible. Many healthcare providers have been known to edit or add to medical records once they know the patient is asking questions or speaking to an attorney. The earliest medical records are a good point of reference before health care providers have a chance to make any adjustments.
Make notes about any conversations you have with your doctor or other healthcare providers, including details about what you discuss, the location of the conversation, and the time and date. If possible, bring another person with you to your appointments so that you have a witness who can provide another perspective about what happened. Take photographs of any injuries or complications from your treatment, such as infections, bruises or skin growths.
Your Baltimore medical malpractice attorney will use all this information to reconstruct your case and to find evidence of negligence on the part of your healthcare provider. Your attorney will consult with a team of independent medical experts to review the information and provide opinions about how your care was handled. These experts will testify on your behalf in court, as well.
If you think that you have been the victim of medical malpractice, it is important that you meet with an attorney as quickly as possible. In Maryland, you only have five years from the date your injury was inflicted — such as when the botched surgery was performed — to file your lawsuit, or you have three years from the date that you became aware of the injuries you sustained. For example, if a doctor leaves a sponge inside your body after a surgery, you may not become aware of it for many years when it starts causing pain or other problems.
If you feel that your loved one died as a result of medical malpractice, you have three years from the date of death to file your lawsuit. It is important that you request an autopsy as soon as possible after your loved one dies if you suspect negligence.
Maryland is also one of the few states that recognizes contributory negligence. That means that if you contributed to the outcome in any way — such as by not getting the surgery when your doctor advised or by not taking the recommended dosage of your medication — you may forfeit your right to collect any compensation.
It is important that you call a malpractice attorney as quickly as possible to file your suit and to start building the strongest case possible. The insurance company will try to settle with you quickly so that you do not have the opportunity to explore your legal options. The insurance company will also try to settle with you before the true extent of all your injuries becomes known.
Call the premier Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys at Mallon & McCool LLC today to start building your medical malpractice case. Our experienced attorneys provide aggressive, yet compassionate representation. Call us today at (410) 727-4770 or contact us online to see how we can help you.