When the physician you entrust with your health and wellbeing causes harm and distress instead, you are left with no other option than to go the legal route. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of their legal rights when it comes to medical negligence or malpractice. In fact, many patients fail to realize that certain injuries and accompanied losses were caused by the negligent acts of a doctor or health care providers. They are also unaware that they are entitled to make a claim for those medical errors.
If you are among those who don’t know what medical malpractice is and what you should do if you suspect it, then this blog is for you. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about medical negligence and its claims in Ontario.
Medical Negligence: What You Need to Know
Meaning of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice refers to negligent acts committed by health care professionals while carrying out their duties on a patient. It occurs when a physician fails to perform to the standards expected from them and causes injury or harm to the patient instead. This includes delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, failure to treat patients, providing substandard care and failure to refer a patient to a specialist. If the medical errors occur in a hospital, the facility can be held responsible for the injuries or suffering caused to its patients.
Elements Necessary for Medical Malpractice
Not every instance in which a doctor makes a mistake is medical negligence. To make a valid medical malpractice claim, it is necessary that you prove the following elements:
- You and the doctor had a verifiable patient-physician relationship (the medical professional owed you a certain duty of care)
- The physician did not provide you with a reasonable standard of care
- Their behaviour was a significant cause of your injuries
- The injuries you suffered were foreseeable
- You suffered actual damages
Things to Do When You Suspect Medical Negligence
Seek a Second Opinion
When you have suffered what you suspect is medical malpractice, your priority should be to find another doctor so that you get proper treatment. Be sure they correct the medical mistake or at least provide temporary relief by treating the complications caused by it.
- Request Copies of Medical Records
If you are planning to file a lawsuit against the doctor or hospital responsible for the negligent act, you need to start collecting evidence. This primarily consists of copies of medical records. These are essential because they contain information regarding the symptoms the patient was experiencing, your medical history, what tests were performed and what medications were prescribed. This information is used to prove that the doctor failed to perform to the expected standard and was medically negligent.
- Maintain a Journal
Apart from collecting evidence, you should also keep a journal to document your health and what you are experiencing as a result of the malpractice. Make sure you mention every minute detail including loss of income and work because you had to spend time undergoing additional treatments.
- Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Cases involving the negligence of doctors or health care providers are incredibly complex, especially if it leads to wrongful death. That’s why it is strongly recommended that you consult a personal injury lawyer who specializes in handling medical negligence claims. Be as detailed as possible when explaining the situation and provide all relevant documents during the first consultation.
- Don’t Contact the Doctor at Fault
Once you have hired a lawyer, they should be your main point of contact. There is no need to speak with any other parties involved, including the doctor at fault. In fact, it is advisable to avoid contact with them entirely. The defendant’s insurance company may try to contact you. If they do, refrain from making any statement or answering any questions. Ask them to get in touch with your lawyer instead.
A minor act of negligence on the part of a doctor can lead to major suffering. Plus, it is against the standards expected from a respected medical professional. If you were previously unaware of what medical negligence consisted of and were a victim of it unknowingly, it is time you knew your rights. It is also time to make a claim for your injuries. Consult a personal injury lawyer today to evaluate your case.