The average person goes to the doctor about four times per year. You might see your doctor more or less frequently, depending on your personal healthcare situation. When you visit the doctor, you place yourself and your well-being in his or her hands, trusting in your healthcare professional's training and judgment to keep you safe and healthy.
Something you might be less than thrilled to learn, then, is that, in the United States, cancer and heart disease are the only two things that cause more deaths than medical negligence. That's right: medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. So while it may come as no surprise that, just a few years ago, over $3 billion in damages was paid out for medical malpractice lawsuits, that doesn't make the fact any less alarming.
What exactly is medical malpractice?
The law defines "standard of care" as what an average, reasonably careful medical provider would or would not do in any particular set of circumstances. "Medical malpractice" is the term used when a healthcare provider fails to meet that standard of care.
Is there any way to avoid becoming a victim of medical negligence?
It is doctors' responsibility - not their patients' - to make sure they follow proper medical procedures and correctly treat illnesses; that is the purpose of obtaining a medical degree. There is only so much a normal person can do when it comes to staying on top of his or her own health, or else doctors might find themselves out of a job! However, there are certain things you can do to lessen the likelihood that you will become a victim of medical malpractice:
- Research and understand your health conditions
- Take a list of important questions to your appointments and expect answers
- Try not to allow healthcare providers to intimidate you
- Listen to your body and trust your instincts
- When possible, have a friend or family member accompany you on healthcare visits
What should I do if I believe I have been the victim of medical negligence?
It can be tricky to determine whether a provider's negligence caused your injury or damages, because a bad medical outcome is not necessarily proof of medical malpractice. Some sort of quantifiable evidence must exist that the provider's medical negligence directly resulted in your harm or injury.
However, if you suspect you received negligent care, a Kansas City medical malpractice attorney can thoroughly review the details of the case. He or she will be able to take care of everything from interviewing you and your friends and family members to securing any and all relevant medical records. There are a number of procedural requirements to complete before you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit, and a Missouri attorney will be familiar with any statutes of limitations and the complex laws involved.