Differential diagnosis is a systemic method used by doctors to identify a disease or condition in a patient. Based upon a preliminary evaluation of the patient, the doctor makes a list of diagnoses in order of probability. The physician then tests the strength of each diagnosis by making further medical observations of the patient, asking detailed questions about symptoms and medical history, ordering tests, or referring the patient to specialists. Ideally, a number of potential diagnoses will be ruled out as the investigation progresses, and only one diagnosis will remain at the end. Of course, given the uncertain nature of medicine, this is not always the case.
Seek out an appropriate specialist who can treat your specific injury. Give the doctor your full medical history, including the circumstances surrounding the recent medical error. Remember that medical records are the most important factors when determining a doctor’s error. Make sure you give the new doctor enough correct and thorough information to ensure that the charts accurately record your state of health following the medical error. To make sure your doctor fully understands your present condition and that these facts are properly recorded, be sure to share the “complete picture” by explaining what your health was like before, during, and after the accident, as well as your current condition. Make sure your new doctor has access to any medical records that may impact his/her diagnosis and plan for treatment.
The Lexington, Kentucky Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center was one of the first to introduce such a program. Non-economic benefits to medical professionals included the promotion of ethical, honest behavior, and benefits to patients and their loved ones included a truthful account of what occurred, an apology, and potentially an offer of compensation. The VA also benefited financially – it became the VA hospital with the lowest malpractice payouts. Also, their average length of cases decreased from 2-4 years to 2-4 months.
"Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law, it invites every man to come a law unto himself. It invites anarchy. (United States v. Olmstead, 277 U.S. 438 (1928).
This Health Policy Report describes the malpractice system in the United States, examines its shortcomings, and analyzes the forces that have led to past and current malpractice crises. The authors review options for reform of the U.S. malpractice system. Conventional tort reforms include caps on damages, limits on attorneys' fees, and shortening of the statute of limitations. Experts have also proposed major system reforms, such as enterprise liability or administrative compensation.
Expert testimony is required. Expert opinions are often a crucial feature of the patient's case. A qualified expert is usually required at trial. (And often, expert testimony or an expert affidavit is required at the malpractice review panel proceedings prior to commencing trial.) State rules vary as to what makes somebody qualified to provide expert medical testimony, but generally it is someone with experience in the particular field at issue. In a very limited number of circumstances, expert testimony is not required, such as when a surgical towel is left inside the patient after a surgery.
Approximately 1% of all medical patients will be a victim of medical negligence (malpractice). However, less than 3% of those victims will file a claim for malpractice. This means that the overwhelming majority of victims never seek justice. There could be many reasons why. They may not know that they were victims of malpractice. They may not know what malpractice actually is. They may be unaware of the legal process that would help them recover damages. Whatever the reason, every victim of medical negligence has the right to pursue a claim in a court of law, and there is a process to filing and pursuing a medical negligence claim.
Although it is not unheard of for a doctor to alter medical records, it is extremely rare. If your doctor does alter your medical records, this fact alone will not irreparably harm your case. There have been major advances in forensic technology over the past years. It is now possible to detect changes in ink, spacing, and handwriting that may have been made by your doctor when he tried to alter your records.
A violation of the standard of care - The law acknowledges that there are certain medical standards that are recognized by the profession as being acceptable medical treatment by reasonably prudent health care professionals under like or similar circumstances. This is known as the standard of care. A patient has the right to expect that health care professionals will deliver care that is consistent with these standards. If it is determined that the standard of care has not been met, then negligence may be established.
The negligence resulted in significant damages - Legal malpractice lawsuits are expensive to litigate. For a case to be viable, the plaintiff must show significant damages that resulted from the negligence. If the damages are small, the cost of pursuing the case might be greater than the eventual recovery. To be worth pursuing, the plaintiff must show that the outcome resulted in losses far in excess of the amount of legal fees and expenses necessary to bring the action.
While some medical errors are readily apparent, many times a serious hospital error is not immediately obvious. You may have a suspicion that you or your loved one has been harmed by a hospital’s substandard care. In most instances, you will need to have your medical records reviewed by independent medical experts to determine whether a preventable hospital error occurred.
Anyone familiar with the Hippocratic oath understands the undeniable bond between medical care and ethics—ideally, physicians are driven by the desire to help patients, not hurt them. Yet, harm does sometimes occur, and patients have the right to hold such doctors accountable in a court of law. While the topic of not telling the truth poses more of an ethical question than a legal one, there are established legal boundaries for medical professionals that, when crossed, could justify a lawsuit.