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Injured at the Doctor's Office

Reuters Health, in a recent news article, reports that medical errors do not just occur in hospitals but can be prevalent in doctor’s offices as well. Recent studies indicate that almost half of medical malpractice claims and subsequent payments were from medical malpractice cases outside of the hospital setting.

This article highlights that many hospitals have implemented standard safety procedures and checklists for eliminating and reducing medical mistakes, while doctor’s offices are far less regulated.

The increase in outpatient procedures as well as hospital medical errors has given rise to the more than 98,000 medical errors that kill Americans each year. These errors cost society millions of dollars each year.

In addition, more invasive procedures are now done in a doctor’s office or outpatient facility as indicated by one researcher who said, "More invasive and high-technology diagnostic and therapeutic procedures are increasingly being performed in the outpatient setting.”

Researchers and doctors, who participated in studies which compared the rate of medical malpractice errors in hospitals with doctor’s offices, hope that the findings are a wake-up call for the medical community and new procedures and checklists will be created to solve errors outside of hospitals.

The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that there are 30 times as many outpatient visits as hospital discharges every year, and the most common problems between the two settings were different. Surgical mistakes are the most common medical malpractice claims for patients in the hospital, and outpatient visitors were most likely to file medical malpractice claims for misdiagnosis.

What does this mean for hospitals and doctors? It will take different solutions to fix both problems. Doctors may need additional training to communicate with their patients and the patients need to decrease the chance of doctor’s mistakes by increased communication, educating themselves about their treatment plans and their medications.

Doctors agree that some of the onus falls to the patient who needs to start taking some control of their own healthcare and not relying completely on the doctor.

What is a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Medical malpractice can occur if you have been injured from the negligent actions of a medical profession. Medical malpractice is part of personal injury law and can occur if a doctor or medical person fails to perform their duty with the level of care that another hospital or doctor would have used in the same circumstance.

All states have a statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim which can extend from 6 months to 4 years, generally from the date of injury or from the date of reasonable discovery.

How do you prove medical malpractice? You will need testimony from another doctor or healthcare professional who is willing to testify that the doctor did not provide adequate care. You must also provide evidence that your condition would have improved, if not for the negligence.

Hiring a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Most plaintiffs in a medical malpractice case will need legal assistance. Medical malpractice cases can be expensive, and personal injury lawyers will need to hire doctors or experts to provide testimony about the case.

Like other personal injury lawyers, medical malpractice attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis and generally do not get paid unless they win your case. Exceptions may exist for some expenses and fees.

If you have been injured because your doctor failed to take appropriate actions for a medical condition, misdiagnosed your medical health condition, delayed treatment for a condition or did not treat your physical health condition using acceptable medical standards, contact a medical malpractice lawyer.