Medical Malpractice It Can Be A Life Or Death Situation

Life, Death, and Medical Malpractice

When negligence occurs in a medical setting, the consequences can be a matter of life or death. Malpractice occurs when a medical practitioner fails to meet the appropriate standard of care for the industry. In the state of Maryland, the Board of Physicians reported more than a thousand such allegations in 2009 alone. Malpractice costs Americans over $55 billion every year and preventable medical errors comprise one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

The nature and harm caused by medical malpractice can vary widely from minor errors in judgment that cause some type of complication to egregious surgical errors resulting in death. Victims who suffer from malpractice in the medical area often do not know that they have been victimized.

When identifiable medical negligence occurs, many victims do not take the appropriate steps necessary to protect themselves. Anyone who believes that he or she is the victim of medical malpractice should consider taking a few simple proactive steps.

Identifying Medical Malpractice

Depending upon the situation, identifying malpractice when it occurs can be difficult. In rare cases, the malpractice is blatant. Surgical "never events" are just that. They are events that should never occur during surgery. For example, surgery being performed on the wrong patient; the wrong surgery being performed; or leaving surgical paraphernalia in a patient's body. Even someone who knows nothing about medicine can recognize that malpractice has occurred when a doctor leaves a medical instrument inside patient's body cavities during surgery.

Malpractice in medicine is rarely that simple. Medicine is a complex art with many opportunities for reasonable minds to differ. There are often multiple ways to achieve the same goal, each with their own potential benefits and drawbacks. Different medications will have different contraindications and different people will experience different side effects that may be aggravated by a treatment regimen for another illness.

This is particularly evident with respect to medication and dosage. Severe side effects that may manifest themselves later may not have occurred in statistically significant quantities during clinical trials, making it reasonable to expect that the patient would experience no such difficulties with lower or moderate doses of certain medications. In many cases, excellent judgment and standardized practices will lead to sub-optimal outcomes. Not every negative patient-outcome stems from malpractice.

The best approach to obtaining information on standardized industry practices is to consult others within that same industry. Anyone who suspects that he or she is the victim of medical negligence should begin by consulting another doctor who specializes in that particular area. The second doctor can provide a treatment regimen for the original illness and correct the harm caused by the allegedly negligent conduct. The second doctor can also render an opinion as to the appropriateness of a particular form of conduct.

Responding to Medical Malpractice

Patients who recognize that they or their family members have been victimized by medical negligence should seek legal help of top of the line attorneys such as the  medical malpractice lawyers Maryland residents have come to trust. Victims who demand accountability from the hospital or the physician in question are likely to receive one of two responses. Either a victim is summarily dismissed because their claim is not considered credible; or the medical professionals think the patient lacks the sophistication to pursue the matter in court.

In cases of easily identifiable medical malpractice, the hospital or the offender’s insurer may offer a token settlement in exchange for a waiver of liability. This may include waiving certain medical bills or agreeing to provide care for certain conditions for free. Such offers rarely compensate victims for the full extent of their damages, such as added pain and suffering, or economic losses sustained as a result of medical negligence. Without legal representation, victims have little chance of being made whole.

Obtaining legal representation has social benefits as well. By holding physicians to the appropriate standard of care, victims can help reduce the chance that the negligent party will continue to engage in malpractice in the future. A victim should also discuss other potential recourse against the negligent party with their attorney, including lodging complaints with the state’s medical board that licenses physicians, or contacting the media. Any actions taken after identifying medical malpractice must be carefully managed to result in the highest chance of being compensated for the incident and deterring future negligence.


Writer LaGeris Underwood Bell knows from painful first-hand experience, the hardships caused by a negligent physician. S

This article is dedicated to Felicia Willis: She was a young woman of 43, whose condition of lupus never defined the life she lived. Felicia was immersed in her church, her 12 year old daughter Faith, and her family and friends. She will be missed, but most of all she will be remembered.


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