How Does an Attorney Analyze Medical Malpractice Claims
I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.
Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.
Today’s question is a question that comes from an attorney who handles real estate, she asks “how do medical malpractice attorneys work through a case with callers to analyze whether they might have a claim or whether it would be cost prohibitive to proceed with a claim?”
The answer is: very carefully.
Suppose a caller calls us about her father who suffered a stroke and who was taken to the hospital promptly, but failed to recover from the stroke.
The caller is upset because she has learned that there is a particular medication called tPA, that can be given by injection after a stroke within three hours of the onset of symptoms, which will reverse most of the damage caused by the stroke.
The daughter is upset and tells us that she “told the emergency room doctor to give that injection and nobody gave the injection and now I want to sue because my Dad never had a chance to get better.”
Let’s step back. Is the situation really as simple as the caller thinks? Does the doctors failure to give the miracle injection equate to malpractice?
In reality the answer is not simple. Why? Because there’s a contraindication for that miracle medication.
If the patient is on blood thinners or has other pre-existing conditions, if the miracle medication is given, it will kill the patient.
So, doctors have a careful responsibility to evaluate whether it is appropriate to give such medication or not.
Cases such as these require an understanding of the patient’s medical history to see if there are clear contraindications for such an injection. If the miracle medicine is not to be given, based on medical history and other information, then it is not a medical mistake to fail to give the medicine, even when a family member urges the giving of the medicine.
Important too in the case of a stroke victim would be how well the patient actually recovered whether or not they were given the miracle drug.
If a patient would be expected to recover in two or three weeks if they’d been given the shot, but they still make a full recovery after four months of extensive physical therapy, that’s an important factor for an attorney to know to help determine whether or not a case of malpractice should be pursued. A full recovery, even though it takes more time, likely means a case is not one to be pursued.
If we cannot understand clearly what happened when we take a call about a medical negligence case our attorneys will ask to look at the patient’s medical records. Where a review of records is needed, generally we insist that the caller get the medical records before we set a meeting to consult with them.
I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”.