Most patients have a family practitioner that they see. The family doctor handles their annual physicals, monitors prescription medications, and might treat a single patient for several years or even their entire life.
Family practitioners are trusted by their patients because they have long-term care relationships with their patients.
While family doctors are trusted, they are not perfect. Errors might occur, injuries could result, and in some cases, a patient could suffer a life-threatening complication.
However, when is an error or injury the result of negligence? Furthermore, is it in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your trusted family doctor? Most family physicians that have cared for a patient for a long duration are not sued; simply because the patients know and trust the medical doctor.
When a serious injury occurs, however, and the patient endures multiple damages or long-term complications, they might feel as though they have no choice, but to file a lawsuit.
Primary care physicians have medical malpractice insurance for this very reason. Mistakes do occur, but when those mistakes happen, and a patient suffers serious complications, a doctor and their insurer must make it right.
Primary care physicians (PCPs), are less likely to be sued compared to other specialties like OB/GYNs and surgeons. Also, male PCPs are more likely to be sued than female PCPs per one study.
Patients sue their family care doctor for a variety of reasons. However, there are seven reasons a PCP is more likely to see a lawsuit in his or her career:
Before suing a family physician for malpractice, you must determine if your case meets the criteria for a malpractice claim. This criterion includes answering the following:
Naturally, you must also answer these questions for an attorney, because a lawyer has the expertise to determine if your case qualifies for a malpractice claim.
Sometimes, patients might think they have a claim against a physician for an unexpected or unsuccessful result. Poor results in medical treatments are common, but not malpractice. Even routine procedures can lead to unexpected issues. If those complications are not foreseeable or preventable, the doctor is not liable for any injuries his or her patient endures.
Instead, it is the acceptable standard of medical care. A doctor must follow the acceptable level and protocols. If they deviate from the accepted standard and injure you, then you might have a claim for malpractice.
Sometimes, a patient can be the defining line between negligence and successful treatment.
Patients must also perform due diligence and participate in their healthcare. While they rely on the expertise of their physician, patients must ask questions, research, and possibly seek a second opinion any time they question a diagnosis. Doing so might result in fewer injuries.
It is common for a family care doctor to apologize when something goes wrong with a treatment or a patient suffers. After all, they have treated that patient for several years.
However, when a PCP apologizes, are they guilty of malpractice or just being human? Some doctors are so fearful of a lawsuit that they will not apologize and show their human side. However, being compassionate is not a sign of guilty.
Today, there are laws in place that prevent patients from using apologies against physicians in a malpractice lawsuit. While your doctor might tell you he or she is sorry, you cannot use that apology as a claim that the doctor was guilty.
In Connecticut, a physician’s apology cannot be used against them, even if you have a case for malpractice. Pursuant toStatute Section 52-184d(b), a civil action brought against a physician by an alleged victim cannot rely on statements, gestures, expressions of apology, sympathy, condolences, or compassion.
Connecticut’s lawmakers enacted these laws to prevent physicians from being sued for apologizing. However, apology or not, this law does not preclude you from filing a lawsuit against your doctor if they caused a foreseeable and preventable injury.
If you feel your family physician caused you harm, and you feel the injury was preventable, then you can start with the steps for filing a malpractice claim.
You must refer to a medical malpractice attorney in CT immediately. An attorney helps you determine if you have a claim, but also reviews the evidence, collects documentation, and ensures your claim is completed correctly.
The statute of limitations is a timeframe for which you have to file your claim after the injury or discovery of the injury. If you pass the time limit, you no longer can file or collect on your malpractice claim — regardless if the physician was grossly negligent.
When you meet with an attorney, one of the first steps they complete is a review of your injury, when it occurred, or you reasonably knew it happened, and how long the statute gives you to file your claim.
Depending on the facts of your claim, your attorney might complete pre-suit requirements, such as going to the medical review board, sending a notice of intent to the local hospital, or conducting a medical examination and receiving a certified Affidavit proving you have a legitimate case.
Your attorney goes through an in-depth process of pulling and reviewing your medical records. Those records are also reviewed by medical experts retained by your lawyer. The medical expert is in the same field das your physician and practices in the state. He or she reviews your medical records looking for discrepancies, issues, or signs of malpractice.
The same expert reviewing your records for your attorney is likely to also testify in court about your physician’s negligence and how the negligence contributed to your injury.
Next, your attorney must notify the insurance companies involved in the lawsuit and your physician’s hospital or clinic (if they are an employee of one). In some cases, your notification will automatically trigger an insurance review. The review could include an independent medical examination (IME) by the insurance company’s physician.
The IME reviews your medical records and conducts a physical exam to see if your injuries are as severe as you claim.
Before your case goes to trial, your attorney and the insurance company will likely complete several sets of negotiations. Most medical malpractice cases settle out of court. However, if the insurance company is unwilling to meet your demands or they are purposely offering low settlements, your attorney might feel they have no choice but to take the case to court.
If you suspect that your private or family care doctor has injured you, talk to an attorney. While it is difficult to accuse a family physician, you must hold them accountable for causing your injuries and damages.
Contact Berkowitz and Hanna, LLC today to schedule a no-obligation consultation. Call us or contact us online to get started.