When you receive medical treatment, you hope to get better, not worse. Unfortunately, physician negligence can lead to much more serious problems than the original condition, and even death.
Medical malpractice may be more common than you think. A 2017 survey of more than 4,000 physicians across more than 25 specialties found 55 percent of physicians have been named in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Surgery and OB/GYN and women’s health are the most common specialties involved in lawsuits, with other specialties including otolaryngology, urology, orthopedics and plastic surgery.
More than 280,000 medical malpractice claims were paid between 2009 to 2014, and 8 percent of them resulted in payments of more than $1 million. Nearly one-third of those claims involved patient deaths, CBS News reports.
If you or a loved one has experienced serious physical injury or died as a result of a negligent medical procedure, you may have a medical malpractice claim to pursue. Here are five signs of medical malpractice to be aware of, so you know when you should contact a Phoenix medical malpractice lawyer.
1. Misdiagnosis or Late Diagnosis
Receiving medical treatment as soon as possible for an ailment is essential to avoid worsening of a condition. Health screenings are designed to identify problems immediately and get to work on treating them. When you visit a doctor with an existing problem, you expect to pinpoint what is going on based on your symptoms and get to work to remedy the issue.
When a doctor fails to recognize the signs of a serious issue or misdiagnoses what is going on, those actions may constitute medical malpractice. A misdiagnosis can result in a worsened condition that results in extreme pain, expensive and painful procedures, and even death. Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis may be a result of physician error or misjudgment, or the result of a lack of taking into account patient symptoms and medical history. Hastily misdiagnosing a problem in an emergency situation can also lead to costly effects.
A vital part of making the correct diagnosis for the best treatment recommendations is proper testing, including blood tests or imaging tests. Improper testing may take the following forms in medical malpractice:
- The wrong test is ordered and administered.
- A common test based on symptoms communicated is not ordered.
- Additional tests are not ordered based on initial results.
- A test is contaminated, or samples are mixed up.
Administering the right test, to the right patient, at the right time ensures the most accurate results can be gleaned. Any error along the way may constitute medical malpractice.
3. Wrong Medications
There are many types of problems that can occur when physicians prescribe the wrong medications to patients. Before a prescription is made, a doctor should learn about every pre-existing condition a patient has so a medication that produces the least amount of side effects is prescribed. Recommending the wrong medications can result in:
- A patient taking more medications than are clinically necessary
- Experiencing severe adverse side effects
- Taking too high of a dose
- Problems that require emergency medical treatment, including an allergic reaction
The wrong medication, dosage or interaction with other medications that aren’t needed can also hinder the patient’s ability to heal. In some cases, wrong medication can lead to patient death.
If you are experiencing more pain or problems even after getting treatment, that’s a red flag. You may be a victim of the wrong diagnosis, wrong medication or wrong procedure. During treatment, a physician should clearly explain the reasoning for a prescription or treatment, as well as outline results to expect. When a physician explanation does not align with reality, medical malpractice may be the cause of the condition worsening.
While medical treatment is not always guaranteed to improve a condition, if a patient undergoes costly and painful procedures that hinder their quality of life, non-improvement of a condition should be closely examined and monitored. A patient may also discover through a second opinion that another physician made a costly mistake.
A physician should be able to clearly explain why a treatment is not working or why there are no results after a surgery or other procedure. Complicated answers or a confusing explanation may be a sign the physician is trying to hide mistakes.
5. Poor Care
Healthcare facilities have a responsibility to administer proper attention and care to their patients. Unfortunately, there are factors that can lead to neglect by staff, including:
- Overworked staff who work while tired
- Use of drugs or alcohol by staff
- Stressful environments that contribute to increased risk of error
You may be receiving treatment in a facility where the staff is not properly managed. This can result in team members working with more patients than they are capable of administering proper care to. Carelessness can result in improper treatment. Fatigue can cause fatal errors. If you’re in a healthcare situation such as a hospital stay, where staff are not responding to you when you need help or have made mistakes that have caused you harm, that may be medical malpractice.
Get Help for Medical Malpractice
When a caretaker admits fault in providing improper care that results in a worsened condition, it may benefit you to speak to an attorney. Types of medical malpractice may include:
- Wrong diagnosis
- Inappropriate medicines
- Unwarranted treatment
- Mistakes in procedures and treatments
If you or a loved one have experienced a serious injury or died during a procedure, and you hear a caretaker admit a mistake, document the conversation and contact an attorney. As well, ask how the mistake may affect you in the future. You may not be experiencing problems now, but they may arise later on.
If you’ve had any serious injuries that you think may have been caused by a physician, it’s important to get help from an attorney as soon as possible. The Arizona statute of limitations means victims must file a claim within two years of the date of treatment, with few exceptions. Contact the Millea Law Firm for a free consultation.