Posted by Bill Sandweg on 05 November 2018.
On your own. The first thing to know about being the victim of malpractice is that you are going to have to figure it out on your own. It is highly unlikely that anyone will tell you about the malpractice. To the contrary, whenever something really bad happens, the health care providers either don’t talk about its cause or say they don’t know what happened, even when they all know someone made a mistake.
Ask questions. If something bad happens to you or a loved one while you are under medical care, you need to ask the doctors and nurses what happened and why. Be persistent in your questioning. Don’t take “We don’t know” for an answer, even though sometimes that is all they will tell you. Other times it may be obvious that something went wrong. When that happens, the patient will often be told that it was just one of those unavoidable things that happen from time to time.
Be a little skeptical. Whatever you are told, take it with a grain of salt. Just because you are given an innocuous explanation does not mean that no one made a mistake. Go on the internet. The internet is the best tool available to level the playing field between the public and the medical profession. Read what you can about your condition and what may be the causes of whatever has happened to you.
Look at your medical records. Once you are out of the hospital or once the dust has settled over whatever happened to you, give consideration to looking at your medical records. You are entitled to see your records and to be given copies of them. Be aware, however, that when you ask for a copy of your records, the doctor or hospital may ask why and, if it is a doctor, it may affect your relationship with the doctor.
Talk to someone. When you have gone as far as you can on your own and you still have questions or concerns, the next step is to speak with someone who has more knowledge than you. This may be a neighbor or friend who works in the medical profession. It may be a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice cases.
To sue or not to sue. After you have asked all the questions and done all the research, you may still be unhappy about what happened to you. Every injury is significant to the person to whom it happens. Unfortunately, in our current climate, juries have a hard time finding against doctors and hospitals when the injury is not a permanent one that causes a big change in the life of the victim. Doctors and hospitals win 9 out of every 10 cases tried in Maricopa County. This means that only those with the most severe injuries and the clearest evidence of malpractice are likely to be able to convince a jury to find in their favor. This is sad but true and it means that many victims of malpractice are left without justice. Even if you can bring suit, you need to ask yourself if you are willing to put up with the stress and strain that a malpractice suit always entails. Are you ready for a jury to tell you that the doctor or hospital did nothing wrong? In my experience, true healing cannot begin until lawsuits are over. It may be best to just turn the page, accept that you have been wronged and move on with your life. This is a difficult decision that can only be made by the person who has been harmed. The answer will be different for each such person. I hope you never find yourself having to make this decision.