You think you might be the victim of medical malpractice, but you have no idea what to do next.
One Harvard study showed that the medical institution only gets it right about 75% of the time, so there is a good chance that you will end up facing malpractice at some point in your life. The good news is it usually doesn’t cause life-altering damage. For example, a doctor might well misdiagnose something minor, but your body might well correct the problem on its own.
Yet when the medical institution gets it wrong and does damage you, such as by committing a major surgical error, you should have recourse.
When malpractice does cause damage, there are steps that can help you if you end up pressing a case later.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you think something’s gone wrong you can sometimes go to your doctor first and ask that they look into it and fix it. If it was their fault: for example, if they left a surgical sponge inside of you…then you might be able to get them to fix it at their own expense without defaulting to a lawsuit.
If they refuse, you can use that refusal against them later. Being able to say: “I went to this doctor, I told them there was a problem, and they refused to do anything about it,” can be very strong evidence in a medical malpractice case.
Get a Second Opinion
One of the key questions in your medical malpractice case will be whether the doctor lived up to the standard of care. You can help determine this by going to another doctor in the same field and having them examine you and go over what was done for you.
If you think there was a straight up error you can get them to look for the error, too. This visit might help you discern whether you just got a negative outcome, which is an expected part of medical practice, or whether you have a true malpractice suit.
Keep a Journal
Documentation is important in any personal injury case. Keep a diary of:
- Medical costs, with bills and receipts.
- Pain and discomfort you feel.
- Conversations you have with medical professionals, what you said, what they said, and the outcome.
- Any other information that could be relevant to your case.
This reduces the likelihood that you will forget information that is relevant to your case.
Write the New York Medical Board
You won’t always hear back from the medical complaint board when you report an error, but it can impact whether the negligent doctor gets to continue practicing medicine if there is a long track record of complaints.
Send them to:
The New York State Department of Health Office of Professional Medical Conduct Riverview Center
150 Broadway, Suite 355
Albany, NY 12204
If you are complaining about a dentist, nurse, chiropractor, podiatrist, optometrist, or psychologist, send the complaint to:
The New York State Education Department
1411 Broadway, Tenth Floor
New York, NY 10018
Only final disciplinary actions are public information.
Consult with a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Bring all your evidence and sit down to discuss your case. We will tell you whether we think you have one that’s strong enough to move forward.
At times you might get an offer from an insurance company after you start taking some of these steps. Once you get an offer, stop and consult with us. That’s a good signal that you have a case, and there’s a good chance the offer is way too low.