Medical Malpractice Isn’t The Same As Unsuccessful Treatment

Some medical treatment goes well and you get better thanks to the skill and care of your medical caregivers. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and some people don’t improve after medical care.

But what if your condition got worse because of your medical care? That’s something else entirely. In fact, a worsening condition after medical care is often a signal of medical malpractice. We’ve detailed many of the signs of medical malpractice to help you identify if you may have a medical malpractice claim.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are harmed by the negligence of their doctors and other healthcare staff. In fact, there are an estimated 210,000 to 440,000 deaths every year due to medical malpractice according to the Journal of Patient Safety. Not all cases of medical malpractice end in death, however, so we don’t have a full picture of how many people are impacted by medical malpractice every year.

You might be quick to jump to the conclusion that you were just unlucky if you or a loved one suffered medical malpractice. Not all surgeries and medical care are successful, after all, so maybe your number came up. But there’s a key difference between unsuccessful treatment and medical malpractice you need to know.

Medical malpractice is when your doctor and medical team cause harm because they did something below the standard of care. In other words, by definition, medical malpractice happens because your caregivers failed at their jobs—not because their treatment was unsuccessful.

Sometimes it’s obvious, like the surgeon operated on the wrong leg. Other times it takes sorting through what happened to identify medical malpractice, like when a doctor fails to conduct the right tests that could have identified a condition or illness. Regardless of how the negligence occurred, it’s not the same as when a treatment just didn’t work.

Medical Malpractice Isn’t the Enemy, Despite what Doctors Say

Doctors, hospitals, healthcare companies, and their insurance companies want to prevent patients from filing medical malpractice claims because they’re expensive. Lobby groups that work on their behalf have made it harder for patients to be compensated for their injuries, often striving to limit the amounts patients can be paid even when the doctor or caregiver caused the harm.

When a doctor operated on the wrong leg, it’s pretty hard to defend against. But that doesn’t mean a patient should be limited in how much they can be compensated for their injuries. Yet doctors manipulate legislation to do so. In Arkansas, new legislation is trying to put a price tag on your life at $500,000 as a maximum payout you could receive in a medical malpractice case. Arkansas voters will decide on this issue.

Another complaint is that the legal costs to defend against claims for doctors are excessively high. However, the average costs for defense against a medical malpractice claim when the doctor committed medical malpractice and paid compensation was only $45,070 in 2012 according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Since 2012, medical malpractice claims and associated costs for representation have been dropping and new studies show that the costs of medical malpractice claims and insurance don’t affect the costs of healthcare, despite previous claims by medical professionals. Don’t believe the propaganda and lies spewed out by the Chamber of Commerce and insurance companies.

By comparison, the average income for a physician is $294,000 annually according to the 2017 Medscape Physician Compensation Report. In other words, it’s not the legal defense that’s expensive—it’s paying compensation when they were at fault that doctors and their insurance companies are complaining about.

Tom Baker, preeminent scholar in insurance law and author of The Medical Malpractice Myth, wrote, “The real costs of medical malpractice are the lost lives, extra medical expenses, time out of work, and pain and suffering of tens of thousands of people every year, the vast majority of whom do not sue.”

If you or a loved one suffered medical malpractice, the costs of dealing with the effects of medical malpractice are the true costs resulting from a doctor’s mistake. For many, a medical malpractice claim is the only path forward towards any semblance of a normal life for them or their family after being injured or killed by a doctor’s negligence.

What to do if you think you may have been affected by medical malpractice

In an effort to make medical malpractice claims even more difficult, healthcare professionals and their lobbyists have greatly reduced the amount of time victims have to file a claim. One of the most important things you can do if you think you may have a claim is to contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately. Please do NOT delay.

At the Emerson Firm, we help clients through the process of making a medical malpractice claim with dignity, compassion, and perseverance. If you’d like more information, be sure to read our helpful guide about medical malpractice, different signs and types, and what you can do if it happened to you or a loved one. Call us today at (501) 286-4622 if you believe you may have a claim. This is a free consultation.