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Medical Malpractice: What Is It and What Are the Warning Signs?

When you undergo the care of a doctor, there’s a reasonable expectation that he/she will do their very best to fix whatever is wrong with you. The reality is that doctors are human beings and can make mistakes like any other person. When a doctor makes a mistake, there could be potentially life-threatening consequences for the person they’re treating.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists “medical errors” as the third leading cause of death in the U.S.  We’re going to look at what is medical malpractice, how it can affect you, and warning signs that you should be wary of.

 

What is Medical Malpractice?

When a doctor is negligent in his/her treatment, diagnosis, health management, or aftercare, it’s called “medical malpractice.” To pursue a claim for medical malpractice, four basic elements (aka The Four D’s) must be present:

Duty – The patient must prove that a patient-physician relationship existed and that the physician owed a duty of care. The doctor must follow specific rules that govern their treatment and interaction with the patient including listening to the patient and respecting their views.

Dereliction – The patient must prove that the doctor deviated and failed to comply with a standard of care set forth by their profession. Examples could be a misdiagnosis, wrong medicine given, or missing a diagnosis.

Damages – The patient needs to prove that the doctor’s breach of duty has caused them suffering or injury (mental or physical).

Direct cause – It must be proven that the physician is directly responsible for the injuries that the patient is suffering.

 

Signs of Medical Malpractice

Knowing the signs of potential medical malpractice can keep both you and your loved ones safe. Here are four red flags that should cause you to question the quality of medical treatment that you’re receiving:

Evasive Answers – An evasive or elusive answer with regards to your diagnosis, treatment, or aftercare could potentially indicate they made a mistake in the past and are now trying to cover it up.

It should be noted that there is a distinct difference between an “evasive answer” and one in which the doctor is not entirely sure of the answer to your question. An evasive answer in and of itself is not 100% conclusive proof that medical malpractice occurred, but it should cause you to ask more questions for clarification.

Diagnosis Without Testing – A proper diagnosis usually comes after a medical test in which the doctor will share the results with you over the phone or in person. If you were given a diagnosis without undergoing medical tests, you should start asking questions and seek a second opinion.

Condition Gets Worse – Treatment for certain terminal conditions (e.g., cancer) can only do so much and might only relieve the pain instead of the disease. But when you’ve been misdiagnosed with a condition that’s non-terminal, and you are not getting better after a while, this could be an indication of a medical mistake.

Misdiagnosis – It’s been said that at least 20 percent of patients have been misdiagnosed. One of the more common forms of medical malpractice is when the patient’s symptoms aren’t matching the diagnosis of the doctor.

 

Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Tacoma

The above four red flags are just a few of the many ways medical malpractice can occur. If you think your doctor or surgeon has been negligent in their care and treatment, give us a call today at (253) 472-6000 to speak to one of our attorneys today. At Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel, we fight tirelessly to help our clients seek the justice they deserve so that they can move on with their lives.