Let’s take a look at one of the more common mistakes a doctor can make, the error of prescribing the wrong medicine. Sometimes, if you’re given the wrong drug for a certain condition, the consequences could be dire.
What can you do if this happens to you? Is it malpractice? Do you have the right to sue?
What is medical malpractice?
Legally speaking. Malpractice refers to any misdeed or negligence committed by a medical professional. This includes all health care professionals, such as doctors, nurses, dentists, optometrists or chiropractors, just to name a few.
Proving medical malpractice can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Usually, negligence must be proven by showing that the medical professional acted recklessly or carelessly thereby endangering your life.
What are medication mistakes?
Medical professionals who can prescribe medicine are constantly making decisions about medication. Many times per shift, some days. With every new instance comes a new opportunity for human error.
Mistakes can happen almost anywhere in the process from the drug manufacturer to your family doctor and finally to the pharmacist. Some of the most common mistakes include:
People make mistakes, unfortunately. Even well-educated people. But medication mistakes can have disastrous results—severe illness, chronic health problems, even death.
When this happens, it’s time to meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your options.
What standards are health care professionals held to?
Medical professionals have a great responsibility to care for their patients. But there are limitations to where that responsibility ends.
Many of us expect that doctors should be perfect. Infallible, even. The law, however, gives them a little leeway.
If your family doctor, or specialist doctor did what any reasonable practitioner would have done in the same situation or under similar circumstances, they are not legally liable for the consequences, no matter how dire. To win a malpractice lawsuit, you have to show that the professional did something unreasonable, thereby failing to provide the service or care another practitioner might have.
If your doctor fails to take a thorough and accurate medical history when diagnosing your condition, or if they don’t inform you of all the risks involved in taking a certain medication, that could result in a medical malpractice suit.
Care standards vary on a case-by-case basis depending on the particular care or service required and the type of health care professional involved.
What are their professional obligations?
The obligations medical practitioners have toward their patients vary by profession and are determined by the law and also by the guidelines of individual governing bodies.
Some of a doctor’s responsibilities include advising you of any possible risks associated with a treatment and exploring all your options. But you as a patient also have obligations. If you don’t disclose something while giving your medical history—such as telling the doctor about other medication you’re already taking—that results in injury or loss, the court may not hold the doctor accountable at all, and any lawsuit might be doomed to failure.
How do I file a complaint?
If you believe your family doctor or other medical professional has wronged you, you have two options. First, you can file a lawsuit. Second, you can file a complaint with the professional’s governing organization. The path you follow is entirely up to you. You can do both or choose to do only one.
To register a complaint against a doctor, contact the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario would deal with complaints about dentists. Each profession will have its own regulatory body, and each one will be able to better advise you about that profession’s unique standards.
Filing a complaint usually has no monetary element involved, though. Even if you prove medical malpractice, the governing body is more concerned about disciplining the professional than finding money for the victim. It is a moral victory, though, and sometimes that can be priceless.
What if I decide to sue?
If you decide to sue for medical malpractice, you’ll need to satisfy several conditions for your suit to succeed.
Establish duty of care
First, you need to show that you were a patient who relied on the defendant and they owed you a duty of care. The defendant could be any health care professional, such as a doctor or a nurse, or even a medical institution such as the hospital itself.
Show duty of care was violated
Second, you need to establish what the reasonable standard of care for your case should have been and prove that the defendant was negligent in providing said duty of care due to recklessness or carelessness. If the doctor or other health care professional did everything by the book, proving negligence can be very difficult. However, it’s not unheard of for a health care professional to be found negligent even in cases where they followed proper procedures.
Prove injury or loss
Third, you have to show that the actions caused your injury and that they should have been able to foresee it happening. Sometimes the injury or loss is the result of your own actions afterward, or it’s a consequence of a pre-existing condition you neglected to tell your doctor about. In cases like this, it’s possible your suit may not be successful.
Standard of proof
Medical malpractice suits are often complicated and can take a long time to be resolved. But when it comes to establishing proof, you should know how that truth is determined. You may be familiar with the phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt”—most likely from TV crime dramas. But that’s the standard for determining a defendant’s guilt in a criminal case. The merits of a malpractice suit are determined by civil courts where the burden of truth comes down to a “balance of probabilities” based on how likely it is that the defendant’s negligence caused you harm.
When building your case, you’ll also have to be careful to pursue action against the right people and institutions. If the drug manufacturer shipped out a bad batch of product, the prescribing doctor likely isn’t at fault for what it may have done to you. You’d be better served by bringing suit against the manufacturer. Likewise, if the doctor wrote the proper prescription but it was filled improperly by a pharmacist, you should probably sue the pharmacist and their store.
Do you have a case?
Doctors are only human and are as prone to make mistakes as anyone else. The problem is that their mistakes can sometimes have negative repercussions for their patients.
Fortunately, you have rights in such situations, and you can sue for medical malpractice. If you can prove that a medical professional owed you a duty of care, neglected that duty, and that you suffered an injury or loss as a result of that negligence, you could have grounds to sue.
If your suit is successful, you could be awarded compensation for several reasons, including:
Contact Mackesy Smye today
If you or a loved one has been injured by a health care professional or a medical institution, don’t hesitate to contact the dedicated personal injury lawyers at Mackesy Smye.
Medical malpractice is all about making sure you get the standard of care you’re entitled to, and we believe that’s a right worth fighting for.
Click the button below and book your free, no-obligation consultation and find out how we can help you today.
If you think you’ve been prescribed the wrong medication, book your no-obligation consultation today and learn if the team at Mackesy Smye can help with your case.
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