No one ever imagines it can happen to them: medical malpractice in the midst of the Windy City. Unfortunately, it’s all too possible. Medical malpractice is when your doctor or other healthcare provider doesn’t live up to the standard of care. It can take many forms: misdiagnosis, improper treatment, refusal to listen to concerns, negligence, and even procedure errors or an incorrect prescription.
When you’re working with a doctor, you want to trust them to properly consider your concerns, thoroughly diagnose the issue, and get you back on your feet efficiently and cost-effectively. Medical malpractice can take your health concerns and worsen them or drag them out until you receive proper care. When this happens, your doctors need to be held accountable, whether the issue was simply a human error or a result of negligence. Let’s take a look at the first five steps you need to take if you suspect medical malpractice.
1. Talk to Your Doctor
Give your doctor a chance to make things right. Sometimes it’s a simple error, or something was missed. Be an active patient, bringing up your concerns and asking questions. If it was a simple error, most practices will do whatever they can to make things right, including not charging for some services. If the issue is at a larger facility or hospital, contact their patient advocate for help. If the responsible party dismisses your concerns, if the practice won’t make things right, or if the error was something catastrophic like anesthesia errors, it’s time to escalate.
2. Document Everything
Statements from your visits, photos if there are physical symptoms, a journal tracking your health and how it is affecting your daily life, receipts for medications and medical expenses— everything you can think of relating to your injury or illness. Ask for a copy of your medical records for your own record keeping. If you have access to a web-based patient portal, print copies of test results and other relevant data and messages.
3. Get a Lawyer
This step and the previous one are interchangeable. If you have any doubts about your concerns, you can schedule a free consultation with a Chicago-based attorney and get their opinion.
It’s imperative that you have a personal injury lawyer who is on your side. They will help you gather documentation, find experts to weigh in, and help you seek justice. Any medical professional guilty of malpractice needs to be held accountable in an effort to prevent mistakes from happening again. Another reason to get a lawyer’s help is to ensure you understand your rights, you know the limitations for medical malpractice cases, and you receive the compensation you deserve to help cover your medical costs and make up for any lost work. Once your lawyer has confirmed you have a valid case, they will help you with the next steps.
4. File a Claim with the State Board
Each field of medicine has a regulatory board in Illinois that monitors current regulations, guidelines, and standards of care. If a doctor isn’t providing quality service, file a formal complaint with the board. Board members will formally investigate and deal with the practice appropriately. This does not replace your settlement or lawsuit. You deserve compensation for what happened, and the board will not provide that.
5a. Negotiate with The Practice or Their Attorneys
Your lawyer will file a claim of malpractice, and the responsible party or their representatives will file a response. In a best-case scenario, they will be willing to negotiate with your lawyer outside of court. Your lawyer will handle everything. If anyone contacts you about the case, immediately direct them to your attorney. If anyone from the other party attempts to get your signature, direct them to your lawyer. Make sure your lawyer is fully aware of everything and only sign what they endorse. If your lawyer is unable to get a sufficient settlement, they will further escalate to a lawsuit.
5b. Navigate the Courts
You’ll follow your lawyer’s lead here. This is their territory, and they are well familiar with the Illinois legal system. They likely even know the different judges in Chicago. Your lawyer will handle presenting your case and bringing in experts to testify. You need to ensure you understand court etiquette. Your attorney will guide you as the case goes, helping you understand what’s happening in the courtroom.
Filing and following through with a malpractice claim can be complicated and time-consuming, but it’s worth everything you put into it and more. Healthcare professionals need to be held responsible when they mess up, and you shouldn’t be going into debt because of someone else’s mistake. If you think you might be a victim, contact a local Chicago medical malpractice lawyer for a full, free case evaluation and put your mind at ease.