Ask a Medical Malpractice Lawyer: How Do I Know If I Have a Claim?
If you have been injured by negligent or substandard medical care in Baltimore, you may have grounds to sue for malpractice. A simple injury that occurs in the normal course of treatment may not be reason to pursue legal action, but prescription and surgical errors demand the attention of a medical malpractice lawyer. They can identify the events leading up to your injury and determine the provider’s intent.
Ask a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Baltimore: How Do I Know If I Have a Claim?
Many medical procedures can be wrongly performed, and nearly any medication can be mistakenly administered. It’s also possible that some patients do not receive enough care and attention. With that said, a medical malpractice claim can arise in a number of ways, starting with a prescribed treatment that doesn’t work. This can, in fact, mean you’ve been misdiagnosed and are now at a greater risk of becoming sicker or developing additional complications.
Consider this: any existing ailment you have is going untreated as your doctor treats you for an illness you don’t have. Sickness tends to get worse with time, meaning your health may continue to deteriorate as you receive unwarranted treatment. In addition, if you’re taking the wrong medication, you might develop dangerous side effects that can lead to further illness.
Your Doctor Fails to Acknowledge Your Concerns
It’s common to have questions after receiving a life-changing diagnosis. But if your provider doesn’t give the information you need, you’re not receiving adequate medical attention.
The same is true if your doctor always seems rushed. You need time to learn how to properly manage your diagnosis. In other words, your doctor should always take your concerns seriously and discuss your treatment plan in detail. If they don’t, you might have a medical malpractice claim.
Your Condition Doesn’t Align with the Treatment Plan
Speaking of treatment plans, they don’t always align with the patient’s condition. As your medical malpractice lawyer will explain, lawsuits often stem from treatments that are far more expensive and invasive than a patient really needs. These options should not comprise the first line of defense, but instead should be used as last resorts when easier and less involved treatments fail.
With this in mind, it’s best to get a second opinion if your doctor is seemingly going overboard with tests. Another provider can determine if the tests are necessary and offer advice in how to proceed. They can also help substantiate your claim if you do have a case.
All surgeries pose risks, but some of those risks can be avoided. We’re talking about monumental errors that result in the performance of the wrong surgery or infections caused by improper sterilization.
Likewise, you may have a case if you sustained injuries after being carelessly placed on the surgical table. Each of these errors suggests patient neglect, and the hospital and its staff may be found liable for your injuries.
Playing off the point we just made, a patient may be the victim of anesthesia mistakes caused by:
- Documentation errors
- Improper control of IV flow
- Dosing problems
- Unintentional anesthetic administration
- Positioning errors
Many times, these mistakes could have been avoided if the provider had first reviewed your medical history. In other cases, the equipment itself might have failed or the patient’s vital signs weren’t properly monitored. The point is an experienced medical malpractice lawyer can sort through the evidence and determine what went wrong in the operation room.
Admission of Fault
Medical providers rarely admit to wrongdoing. But if a member of your Baltimore medical team, whether it’s the doctor, nurse, or someone else, admitted their actions caused your injury, you may very well have a case. It’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible if your provider says they made a mistake.
An Understaffed Facility
Hospitals and clinics can be understaffed for a number of reasons, including an aging population. The need for providers becomes greater as elderly patients increase in number. In addition, as providers themselves age and retire, many facilities experience employment gaps. Burnout and more accessible healthcare can also cause staffing shortages that lead to:
- Medication errors
- Failure to recognize certain hazards, including those of falling and choking
- Poor monitoring
- Undiagnosed conditions
This is another situation that can be tough to prove but is indeed worth pursuing. New symptoms may be the result of improper treatment or misdiagnosis. But you must exercise caution when identifying symptoms. To illustrate, you usually cannot claim pain after surgery as a new symptom because it’s an acknowledged side effect of most procedures.
Lack of Informed Consent
We’ve already mentioned that many treatments carry the potential for complications. Your doctor is responsible for explaining both risks and benefits before proceeding with any treatment plan. You can then decide whether or not that particular therapy is right for you.
A lack of informed consent means you wouldn’t have agreed to treatment if your doctor had properly explained its risks. A lack of informed consent can also describe the receipt of treatment you didn’t agree to. In both scenarios, you must have experienced harm as a direct result of the treatment.
Death Caused by Mistreatment
This, of course, is the most severe consequence of medical malpractice and can be caused by several scenarios, including:
- Emergency room negligence
- Misdiagnosis of cancer
- Anesthesia mistakes
- Surgery and medication errors
- Failure to diagnose a pulmonary embolism or blood clot
- Radiology errors, such as a misread x-ray or mammogram
Malpractice is not the culprit in every patient’s death. It is therefore crucial that you prove the medical provider behaved negligently during your loved one’s care. You must then show negligence caused the death. Again, a Baltimore lawyer can help with both tasks.
What You Need to File a Medical Malpractice Case
Maryland law requires that a board-certified doctor give written support for any malpractice claim filed with a court. That statement must likewise come from a provider who earns less than 20% of their income from testifying in personal injury claims.
The statute of limitations must also be followed, and failing to file a lawsuit within the legally specified timeline can bar any recovery efforts. Generally speaking, malpractice lawsuits in Maryland must be filed within five years of the injury occurring or three years from when the injury was reasonably discoverable. A wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within three years of the patient’s death.
Maryland allows plaintiffs to recover all economic damages caused by a provider’s negligence. To illustrate, you may recover costs associated with:
- Prescriptions or assistive devices
- Lost wages
- Future care, including surgeries
The state does, however, limit the amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice cases. Non-economic damages are more commonly known as pain and suffering and follow a formula based on the year when the claim arose. In 2021, for instance, the non-economic damages cap was $845,000. Different caps govern wrongful death cases.
Many situations may give rise to a medical malpractice case, including a provider’s failure to acknowledge your concerns or develop a proper treatment plan. Surgical errors, anesthesia mistakes, and understaffed facilities can also lead to malpractice claims. If you believe your doctor has behaved negligently, it’s in your best interest to speak to an attorney today. Learn more and schedule your consultation by contacting Peter Angelos Law.