Although everyone seeks medical treatment with the expectation that their physical or mental condition will improve with treatment, sometimes a patient’s condition does not improve or even worsens after treatment. Although you may feel that an unfavorable outcome to your medical treatment should allow you to hold your medical provider legally accountable for the harm and damages you’ve suffered, not every bad or neutral outcome to medical treatment is the result of medical malpractice. Even if your provider makes a mistake in your treatment, that itself may not give rise to a legal medical malpractice claim.
Below are eight potential signs you or a loved one may have suffered from medical malpractice.
Failure to Conduct Standard Tests
Depending on your condition and symptoms, a reasonable medical provider might order a battery of standard exams and tests to begin to narrow down a diagnosis, such as X-rays, EKGs, ultrasounds, or bloodwork. When a provider fails to order tests that are considered by the medical community to be standard for a given set of symptoms or based on suspected injuries or illnesses, that failure may indicate negligent care or treatment that is the result of malpractice.
When doctors take too long to diagnose a medical condition, it can lead to harmful or even fatal outcomes for a patient. There are many medical conditions that can be more easily treated in an earlier stage — after enough time passes, a patient may require more intensive or painful treatment for the condition, or the condition may end up becoming terminal or untreatable. If other reasonable providers would have arrived at the correct diagnosis sooner and the patient misses out on receiving less intensive or more effective treatment, then the provider might be held responsible for malpractice.
Failure to Order Additional Testing
In some cases, a patient may require follow-up testing or additional testing to get better data or to rule out other conditions as part of the differential diagnosis. Not ordering additional testing and simply relying on unclear results or just picking the most likely diagnosis without conclusively ruling others may constitute negligent medical practice.
Condition Fails to Improve (or Worsens)
If a patient’s condition fails to improve or even worsens after treatment, it may represent a sign that malpractice has occurred (although it is not itself sufficient proof of malpractice). Sometimes a patient fails to improve or gets worse because a treatment was improperly performed (such as a surgeon leaving equipment inside a patient).
Lack of Post-Care Follow-Up
Medical providers must give patients instructions on post-procedure care and also follow up with the patient to monitor the patient’s progress or discover whether the patient is suffering from any complications (such as an infection). Not conducting proper follow up may constitute malpractice if the patient’s condition worsens or he or she suffers complications.
Understaffing or overworked staff at a medical facility creates a significant risk of negligent care.
Failure to Consult with Patients
Medical providers must be certain to listen carefully when taking medical histories and symptom histories in order to compile an accurate differential diagnosis; missing critical information or failing to ask relevant follow-up questions may lead to an incorrect diagnosis. Providers must also fully consult with patients before performing procedures, otherwise the provider may fail to obtain informed consent from the patient.
Failure to Refer to Specialist/Seek Second Opinion
Doctors should consult with specialists when trying to diagnose conditions outside the doctor’s area of expertise and should refer patients to specialists when the doctor suspects a specialized condition (such as referring a patient to an oncologist if the doctor suspects the patient may have cancer).
Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Case in New Jersey
Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in New Jersey? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Haddonfield medical malpractice attorneys at the Law Offices of Andres & Berger, P.C. are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout New Jersey, including Camden, Cherry Hill, Gloucester Township, and Winslow. Call us today at (856) 795-1444 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 264 Kings Hwy. E., Haddonfield, NJ 08033.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.