A medical malpractice suit means more than money
A personal injury lawsuit is not just about a paycheck; it is about getting justice and preventing future wrongs.
A common misperception is that people who file a personal injury lawsuit are in it for the money. Portrayals of injured victims who file a lawsuit on television and movies usually have the person faking an injury, aided by unscrupulous attorneys and doctors. Everyone seems to be in it for a paycheck and just looking to get as much "free money" as they can.
The reality is that most injured victims are not filing a lawsuit for money, but for justice. Whether the goal is to get a bad medication off the shelves or to prevent a doctor or hospital from continuing to harm patients during surgery, plaintiffs in a medical malpractice suit are generally not filing a lawsuit by choice. People would gladly have received adequate care and moved on with their lives. But when medical malpractice occurs, there is often little other choice besides filling a medical malpractice claim in order to improve patient safety and help the plaintiff with new medical expenses that arise because of the error.
Holding medical facilities and hospitals accountable
For good reason, doctors are well-respected in society. But they are human and make mistakes. Because of the current atmosphere in hospitals and medical facilities, however, rarely does any doctor or hospital administration admit to a mistake. Unfortunately, this can lead to hospitals underreporting errors for fear that they'll get a reputation as a "bad" hospital. It can also mean that correctable procedures remain a problem for fear that admitting an error will prove costly to the hospital.
That is why victims of medical malpractice play a vital role in holding hospitals and medical providers accountable. According to a study by Health Affairs, up to one-third of hospital visits lead to a further injury to the patient. The National Institute of Medicine estimates that approximately 100,000 hospital patients die because of avoidable errors every year. The Joint Commission on accreditation, a national hospital monitoring agency, gives only one-third of hospitals a "top performer" rating. Less than 200 hospitals in the entire country have received a top performer rating for three years in a row.
Communication errors are common, which can lead to misdiagnosis, prescription errors and other preventable mistakes. Patient checklists have been shown to reduce such errors. Advocates for patient safety and health, including medical professionals, have also introduced a variety of safety measures and procedures that could reduce preventable medical errors in a wide range of medical fields. However, even if a safety measure has been proven to work, hospitals and providers may not implement them in order to give doctors greater flexibility when treating patients.
Filing a claim
The first step in filing a medical malpractice claim is understanding what error actually occurred. Unfortunately this can prove difficult, as doctors and hospitals will not readily admit to a mistake. That is why patients who have been further injured because of a medical error should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to discuss their situation and legal options. An attorney can help injured patients by finding medical experts to help the patient understand what went wrong and why, and put that evidence forward in court.
Injured patients should consult with an experienced med mal attorney as soon as possible to discuss their potential case.