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Medical Malpractice Investigations

Medical Malpractice Investigatator

It’s an unfortunate situation whereby someone has been harmed as a result of medical malpractice. But to play devil’s advocate, most doctors don’t generally set out to harm their patients, but want to help to make them better.

With that being said, medical errors do occur, causing one to want to take legal action. We will discuss here what medical malpractice is in the eyes of the law and what steps are taken for proving medical negligence; such as hiring a medical malpractice investigator. First of all, what is medical malpractice in the eyes of the law?

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a term used when errors are made in the field of medicine, such as by a doctor, hospital, or healthcare provider - causing injury to a patient. The injury is caused through negligence in diagnosis, treatment, or aftercare of the patient.

Negligence is defined by law as: a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence (judgment) would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions (doing something), but can also consist of omissions (not doing something) when there is some duty to act.

Let’s look at some of the various types and forms of medical malpractice cases that can occur. Some examples of which are:

  • Failing to diagnose (or misdiagnosing) an injury, illness, or disease.
  • Not reading laboratory results correctly or ignoring the results.
  • Undergoing a surgical procedure that’s not necessary.
  • Being given the wrong medication, or medication that’s not needed, or the wrong dosage.
  • Not having the standard aftercare one should require.
  • Being discharged from hospital prematurely.
  • Ignoring a patient’s medical history.
  • Failing to order proper medical tests or recognize symptoms.

What Proof Does a Medical Malpractice Investigator Look For?

For an investigation of medical malpractice to be considered by the authorities, the claim must have the following proof:

  1. There was a doctor-patient relationship.
  2. There was a violation of the standard of medical care.
  3. An injury was caused by the negligence.
  4. The injury resulted in significant damages.

There was a doctor-patient relationship

For a doctor, hospital, or healthcare professional to owe a legal duty of care and have a legal responsibility over someone’s injuries, they must have had a patient-doctor relationship with them. If the doctor or medical practitioner provided treatment in a hospital or clinic, this will be easy to prove during the investigation.

There was a violation of the standard of medical care

The law recognizes there are certain medical standards as being acceptable within the healthcare profession. This is known as the standard of care. A patient has the right to expect that doctors, hospitals, or healthcare professionals, will deliver care that is consistent with these standards. If any medical malpractice investigator produces proof that the standard of care hasn’t been reached, then negligence could be established.

An injury was caused by the negligence

For a medical malpractice case to be proven valid, it is not sufficient enough that the doctor, hospital, or healthcare professional to have only violated the standard of care. The medical malpractice investigation must also prove that the patient sustained an injury due to the negligence; an injury that wouldn’t have occurred in the absence of that negligence. An unfortunate outcome by itself, is not malpractice. The private medical investigator must prove that negligence caused the injury. You have no case if there’s an injury without negligence; or, if negligence was present but did not cause an injury.

The injury resulted in significant damages

Medical error cases are extremely expensive to investigate and bring to trial. This type of case often requires lawyers, medical malpractice investigators, testimony of medical experts, and many hours of investigating to find the proof required.

For a case to be financially viable, the medical negligence investigation must show that the patient has sustained significant damages as a result of an injury received, due to medical error. If the damages are small, the cost of pursuing the medical malpractice case might be greater than the eventual recovery. To pursue a malpractice claim, the patient must show that the injury resulted in disability, unusual pain, suffering and hardship, loss of income, or significant past and future medical bills.

The Best Ways of Investigating Medical Malpractice

Proving negligence in a medical malpractice case can be tough on someone who doesn’t have knowledge of the medical field. It’s a minefield of complex scientific jargon which is why you will need specialists to help you.

The best ways to investigate and prove medical malpractice are:

  1. Seek advice from a medical malpractice lawyer.
  2. Hire a medical malpractice investigator.
  3. Document everything pertaining to the medical negligence.

Seek advice from a medical malpractice lawyer

Without a doubt you will probably need to hire the services of a lawyer, but they can be costly. It is recommended to seek an initial consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer to see where you stand legally. An initial consultation is usually free for a certain amount of time (usually half an hour) and depending on your case the lawyer will give you some indications of the likelihood of success.

Besides seeing what laws could have been broken, lawyers will consider many things regarding your case, such as what evidence is available to them, how hard will it be to build and prove your case, the chances of a successful outcome and viability.

Medical malpractice lawyers will also:

  • Work with medical experts to develop theories, testimony, and expert reports to strengthen your case.
  • Take depositions of medical experts, medical personnel and other parties related to the case.
  • Gather and analyze medical records.
  • Obtain independent medical examinations of any injuries, illnesses, or conditions.
  • Perform medical research relating to injuries, illnesses, or conditions.
  • Work with legal nurse consultants to analyze and review your case, medical records, doctor's notes, etc.

Hire a medical malpractice investigator

A lawyer is a lawyer and an investigator is an investigator. If after going to a lawyer you’re told your case is weak due to lack of supporting evidence, you may want to use the investigative services of a medical malpractice investigator. A lawyer may also hire an investigator if they take on your case.

Once you hire a medical private investigator they will gather as much information as possible to help build your case. Some of the things they will do are:

  • Obtain all medical records; including diagnoses, treatments, etc.
  • Finding, interviewing, and taking statements of witnesses involved.
  • Background checks of healthcare workers for past medical malpractices, disciplinary actions, correct qualifications to practice, substance abuse, etc.
  • Investigate and compare the medical procedures used during the incident for departures from standard medical procedures.
  • Research specific drugs, procedures, and treatments used to ensure they were appropriate.
  • Consult with legal and medical experts to determine any negligence.

A medical malpractice investigator can help build your case in a way that would be too irresistible for any lawyer not to take on. The medical private investigator will know what evidence to look for, where to find it, and how to get it. This evidence can then be presented to a lawyer to prepare for trial.

Document everything pertaining to the medical negligence

One of the best ways to help build your malpractice case is to document everything. You should create a medical journal diarizing everything that has happened, and is happening, as a result of the hospital or medical treatment you consider being negligent.

Some of the information to record in your diary:

  • Dates and times of everything in chronological order.
  • Record hospital / practitioner visits including names of hospitals, doctors, practitioners.
  • Record prescriptions and treatments given and by whom, for how long for, additional treatments and examinations needed.
  • Write down what mental and physical effects were experienced whilst on those treatments

Keep all notes and correspondents with all hospitals and practitioners involved. If possible, record conversations with a covert recording device (laws permitting of course).

Where you can, contact anyone who was a party to, or present at any time during any aspect of your case, particularly during the specific incident that led up to and caused the injury. Try and obtain their contact details for the medical malpractice investigator or lawyer, who will most certainly want to interview them.

You should also obtain your medical records from the healthcare provider you intend investigating. Most countries have certain laws that allow individuals to obtain their own medical records quite easily and the healthcare provider must comply within a certain amount of time.

If requesting another’s medical records you will certainly need to get their written permission. This is usually more difficult under data protection laws for obvious reasons. Do not try and obtain another’s medical records without the patient’s permission, as this is usually illegal.

In the United States, the federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) gives patients the right to obtain a copy of their medical records from any medical provider, with a few exceptions. Other countries will most likely have similar laws.

What’s Next? Hire a Medical Malpractice Private Investigator

You will want to record everything and keep all documentation regarding the negligence incident as proof. All the information written down and gathered will be of some use to your malpractice investigator and lawyer, who will decide what information will benefit your case. If you require the services of a medical private investigator then search our investigator directory.
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