We place a lot of trust in our doctors. When something goes wrong, it’s tempting to give them the benefit of the doubt and ignore our concerns. However, no one is infallible. At Phelan Petty, we believe that victims of medical malpractice deserve answers and accountability.
If you believe that you are a victim of medical malpractice in Virginia, you may have legal options. Keep reading to learn more about medical malpractice and five signs that you may have a claim.
Understanding Virginia’s Medical Malpractice Laws
A medical malpractice lawsuit is different than a traditional fender bender claim. Virginia will only hold a doctor or medical facility responsible for negligence if you prove the following elements.
There Was a Doctor-Patient Relationship
You cannot sue a medical provider for malpractice unless you establish there was a doctor-patient relationship. Many times, this analysis is clear cut: if the doctor or nurse provided face-to-face care, there probably is a patient relationship.
However, there are circumstances where the facts are murkier. For example, there may not be a doctor-patient relationship when a consulting physician does not examine or treat a patient, and only provides advice to another doctor.
The Medical Provider Violated the Standard of Care
Unlike a traditional negligence claim, Virginia does not hold all medical providers to the same standard of care. Instead, you must show that a reasonably prudent physician would have acted differently under the circumstances.
When a medical malpractice lawyer determines the appropriate standard of care, they look at a variety of factors, including the provider’s specialty, their training and qualifications, and other factors.
The Malpractice Resulted in Damages
A violation of the standard of care will not lead to a medical malpractice claim unless you suffered harm from the doctor’s negligence. You must be able to quantify your damages, which can include physical pain, mental suffering, medical bills, loss of income, and funeral or burial expenses.
Establishing a medical malpractice claim is an extremely complex process, requiring expert testimony and a detailed understanding of both medicine and Virginia personal injury law. Doctors and hospitals typically have teams of lawyers at the ready to pick apart any medical malpractice claims brought against them. This is why you should work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to build your case.
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Look for These 5 Common Medical Malpractice Warning Signs
Every medical malpractice claim is unique, and it is always in your best interest to consult with an experienced lawyer before proceeding with a claim against a doctor, hospital, or medical facility. However, there are some common red flags that our lawyers associate with medical malpractice.
1. There Was a Lack of Informed Consent
A medical provider typically must give you enough information about your diagnosis, the recommended treatment’s purpose, its potential risks and benefits, alternative treatments, and risks if you opt against treatment beforehand. This information is essential to you giving informed consent. Your consent can either be express or implied.
Certain individuals, such as minor children and incompetent adults, cannot provide consent. Instead providers must obtain permission from the person’s parent or legally-authorized caretaker.
If your doctor performed a procedure that you did not sign off on or failed to warn you of a drug or procedure’s side effects, you might have a medical malpractice claim.
2. You Suffered Unanticipated Complications
When your doctor obtains your informed consent, they should warn you about common complications. However, when you experience a dramatic and unanticipated complication, such as spinal cord strike during a pain injection, it is in your best interest to consult with a medical malpractice lawyer. This also could include an error such as leaving a sponge or clamp inside your body during surgery.
Alternatively, unusual consequences could indicate that the doctor overlooked an allergy, an existing medical condition, or did not exhibit appropriate care during the procedure.
3. Your Symptoms Do Not Align With Your Diagnosis
While you should never try to self-diagnose and forego seeing a medical professional, if you notice that your symptoms do not align with the given diagnosis, it could be a misdiagnosis. While a minor misdiagnosis, like confusing strep and the common cold, may simply be a minor inconvenience, other situations can change the trajectory of your life. For example, misdiagnosed or late-diagnosed cancer may limit your treatment options and reduce your life expectancy and quality of life.
If you’re concerned about the accuracy of your diagnosis, you should immediately get a second opinion. If you discover that your misdiagnosis caused serious harm, contact a medical malpractice attorney right away.
4. Your Treatment Is Ineffective
Another sign you might have been misdiagnosed? You are not getting any better. To be clear, not seeing any improvement in your condition after starting a new prescription or receiving a surgical procedure is not necessarily a sign of medical malpractice. Sometimes treatments take a while to have an effect. Other times, the doctor may start with something less invasive before administering a radical treatment.
However, if your doctor is unwilling to admit that a treatment is not working or seems hesitant to try an alternative treatment, seek another medical opinion. And if your improper treatment and misdiagnosis harmed you, you may have a medical negligence claim.
5. The Doctor Failed to Follow-Up With You
Did your doctor state that further tests were necessary to diagnose your condition or determine the effectiveness of a treatment but then never ordered those tests? Or promise to follow-up at a later date to check your progress and then failed to do so? Did you somehow repeatedly get skipped on your doctor’s hospital rounds?
If your diagnosis was delayed or your condition worsened because you were not properly monitored, you may have a medical malpractice claim if those delays resulted in further injury.
Phelan Petty | A Sophisticated Approach to Medical Malpractice Claims
At Phelan Petty, our experienced team of medical malpractice attorneys works with an extensive network of physicians, nurses, and other experts to develop our clients’ claims. We understand the complex nature of medical malpractice claims and the hardships victims face.
If you think you may have been the victim of medical malpractice, contact us right away for your free case consultation. Call today at 804-980-7100 or message us online to learn more about your rights and legal options.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.