LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Todd Nathan Hendrickson | Sep 24, 2010

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT YOU ARE THE VICTIM OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

If you suspect you or a loved one may be the victim of medical negligence (medical malpractice) you should begin to make note of people involved in the care. In a hospital setting, you should note the names of doctors, nurses and technicians who are caring for the patient.

If any type of surgically implanted device is removed as a result of treatment, you should request that the item be retained and turned over to you. You should make that request in writing, to the surgeon involved and to the hospital or surgical center. If you are refused, ask to receive a written reason for the refusal.

If you are suspicious of medical malpractice, you should obtain second opinions or consults regarding the care and, if at all possible, from a physician unaffiliated with the hospital or doctors whom you suspect have been negligent. There are several reasons for this: First, “independent" consulting physicians will tend to document their true findings and conclusions, even if they don’t want to be a witness against another doctor or hospital, if for no other reason than to establish that they have not been negligent in their care. Second, sometimes a second opinion can cause a shift in treatment which can mitigate or eliminate problems arising from the initial negligence. Although this is not beneficial to a subsequent medical malpractice legal action, if it results in an improved result for the patient, that is the primary consideration. Third, a consultant will provide independent documentation of findings which cannot be altered or amended by a negligent party.

Also, you should, as soon as you suspect medical malpractice, obtain a copy of the relevant medical records for your files. The sooner you request this, the less likely that important records will be lost, “updated" or “amended."

Finally, if you suspect you are the victim of medical malpractice, you should consult with an experienced, qualified attorney as soon as possible. Experience in handling medical malpractice claims is a must. The lawyer you choose should spend the majority of his or her time handling medical malpractice claims and should have done so for many years. You should also consider whether the attorney you choose will handle the case himself or delegate important aspects of your case to less experienced attorneys or associates. It is vitally important that the attorney who will handle the trial of the case also handle the preparation of the case.

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