You suspect that you may be a victim of a medical error. Perhaps you believe that your condition was misdiagnosed or diagnosed too late, or you’ve had complications following surgery, or serious issues related to medication. How do you learn if your treatment was negligent and is an actual case of medical malpractice?
Did you experience a medical error? What is a “medical error?”
The American Medical Association defines an error in the context of health care as “an unintended act or omission or a flawed system or plan that harms or has the potential to harm a patient.” The National Institutes of Health (NCBI) defines medical error as “the failure of a planned action to be completed as intended (an error of execution) or the use of a wrong plan to achieve an aim (an error of planning.)
Medical Malpractice law in Virginia
Virginia law defines medical malpractice as the failure of a health care provider to act as a reasonably prudent provider would act in similar circumstances and involves the “standard of care.” See “What’s Involved in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?”
Types of Medical Errors
Medical errors fall into one of two types:
- Errors of omission occur as a result of actions not taken. An example of this type of error that our firm successfully resolved is when a child died after a nurse failed to notice that his life-sustaining endotracheal tube had dislodged. Many patients have come to our firm to pursue justice in error of omission cases like failure to diagnose cancer and failure to diagnose stroke.
- Errors of commission occur as a result of the wrong action taken. Operating on the wrong limb is an example of an error of commission. An example of this type of error that our firm handled is a failed corrective eye surgery which left the patient unable to open her eye. See Case Results: Medical Malpractice.
What should you do now to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit?
- Discuss your case with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. This is a very complicated area of law requiring a deep understanding of medicine, medical procedures, medical records, and medical experts. You also want to be sure your attorney is also an experienced trial lawyer. While some malpractice cases settle out of court, you want an attorney who is experienced and effective in taking your case to trial. Not all good attorneys are effective trial lawyers.
- Understand if your case has merit and if you can be successful. Attorney Gary B. Mims, who has significant expertise in medical malpractice, says, “You want and need an honest answer to your question ‘Do I have a case?’ but also ‘Is this winnable?’ Not every case of medical negligence is winnable — what may seem like obvious negligence may not stand up to what the law calls malpractice.” Before you embark on a lawsuit, you should obtain an honest assessment of whether or not your case can be successful.
- Know what to expect. Ask your attorney to explain the process, how long it may take to resolve, whether it might be settled out of court, what compensation is possible, and more.
- Obtain your medical records. While your malpractice attorney can act on your behalf, records-keepers often respond more quickly to patient requests.
- Keep a journal. Make a record of your experiences with names and dates, what was said at appointments, your problems, and your progress. It’s easy to forget even critical details when you or your loved ones are undergoing treatment.
- Don’t discuss your case. No one needs to know that you are pursuing a claim against your doctor or other health care provider. Keeping quiet also protects you from someone using your own words against you. DO NOT COMMENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA anything relating to your condition.
An initial consultation is always complimentary at Frei, Mims and Perushek.
Our attorneys are experts in medical malpractice and have earned high honors in this specialty by Best Lawyers in America and US News Best Law Firms. Please call our office at 703-925-0500 to make an appointment to discuss your case or complete our contact form.