How Do You Know If You Might Have A Malpractice Claim?

Few areas of personal injury law are more complex than medical malpractice. These cases involve not only sophisticated legal considerations, but also medical ones. At Winckler & Harvey, LLP, our lawyers have both the legal experience and the connections with medical experts that are indispensable for a successful malpractice claim.

One of the biggest questions we hear from prospective clients is, "Do I have a case?" In Texas, a medical malpractice case requires two key components:

  1. Negligence
  2. Harm

It's not enough to merely show that a mistake happened if you didn't suffer any harm or financial loss as a result. Nor is it enough to show that you suffered harm — a poor outcome, perhaps — in the absence of negligence. Both are necessary.

What Is Negligence?

At the heart of malpractice is negligence — that is, failure to uphold the appropriate standard of care, whether through action or inaction. But how do you know what that standard of care is? Put more simply, how do you know when your doctor has made a mistake?

In rare cases, it may be obvious. Perhaps the surgeon lopped off the wrong leg. Maybe the nurse gave you the wrong dose of a dangerous medicine. Or maybe the hospital mixed up your medical records with another patient.

But in the vast majority of cases, however, it's not so clear cut. Even medical experts can have conflicting opinions.

Warning Signs Of Possible Malpractice

These red flags may indicate potential negligence:

  • When you try to raise questions about what went wrong and why, you don't get clear answers.
  • Your doctor doesn't take your symptoms or concerns seriously.
  • Your doctor doesn't do a full work-up or take a detailed history.
  • Your condition worsens, but your doctor doesn't do anything about it.

When you have doubts about a diagnosis or treatment (or lack thereof), consider seeking a second opinion - preferably from a specialist.

What Is Harm?

A malpractice claim requires more than just hurt feelings. The mistake must have resulted in real harm — physical or financial. You must be able to pinpoint and prove the losses you have suffered. Those damages might include a worsening in your condition, delays in treatment, a poor prognosis, an adverse reaction, or even significant injury or death.

What's Likely NOT Malpractice

As a patient, it's easy (and understandable) to feel upset when something goes wrong. However, not all mistakes or mistreatment amount to malpractice. For example, these situations, while frustrating, likely won't amount to a claim:

  • You had to wait a long time.
  • You were rushed through an appointment.
  • You were treated rudely.
  • You had to return to the emergency room (or hospital, or clinic) multiple times.
  • You were informed of the risks, and those risks become reality.
  • Your doctor changed your diagnosis or treatment after new information came to light.
  • You weren't truthful with your doctor about all of your symptoms, resulting in an incomplete picture.

Get A Free Case Evaluation

If you have suffered harm that you believe may have been the result of medical negligence, contact our attorneys for help. You can also call our office in Austin at 512-593-7399. We offer free consultations and contingency fee representation.