Coming to the realization that you or someone you love may have suffered unnecessarily due to medical mistakes or negligence is a jarring experience. We have come to put so much trust in medical professionals that the idea that they make mistakes can be somewhat difficult to comprehend. Although it is important to remember that a bad or unexpected result to a medical procedure is not always indicative of malpractice, it is crucial to act carefully to preserve your rights when the unexpected does occur.
Medical negligence is surprisingly common. In 2012, it was the third leading cause of death in the United States according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. If you suspect that you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a medical mistake or institutional negligence, you should take the following steps:
- Seek treatment - If you begin experiencing unexpected adverse effects after medical procedure, it is important to consult a medical professional for treatment. This action provides documentation of these effects as well as possible insight into their cause. An objective opinion from an independent doctor may also be helpful.
- Preserve records - Preserving copies of your medical records prevents healthcare providers from misplacing them or altering them later. Health insurance providers are required to provide copies of your medical records upon request.
- Keep track of activities - To the best of your ability, maintain records of the facilities where you received treatment and the doctors who provided it. This is important not only for determining who was responsible for the medical error that afflicted you but also for linking the adverse effects you experienced as a result.
- Avoid making premature accusations - Doctors and hospitals tend to stop communicating with patients once they anticipate a lawsuit. Lodging premature accusations of negligence can make it more difficult to gather information about your case and can also lead to obstacles during settlement negotiations.
Keeping your best interests in mind, the most important step to take if you suspect malpractice is always to contact a Wisconsin or Illinois medical malpractice attorney before taking any action.