Medical Malpractice Claim for Failure to Treat

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February 11th, 2013 in Medical Malpractice

In New Mexico, a doctor may be liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit if the doctor failed to follow standard medical practices in discovering and treating a medical condition.

Medical malpractice is the failure of a doctor to act within the normal standards of care for a doctor with the same medical experience and training. In other words, the doctor must act in the same manner as another doctor would act if provided with the same information about the patient.

Failure to Treat or Treat Adequately

A medical malpractice claim against a doctor for the failure to treat a medical condition, illness or injury can occur in many different scenarios. For example, if the patient has an infection or develops an infection while staying in the hospital and the doctor fails to treat the infection, serious harm can result.

There are a couple of possibilities. First, the doctor may have been aware of the infection (or other illness) or the risk of such illness and simply failed to treat. Second, the doctor may have failed to treat adequately. Finally, the doctor may simply overlook the symptoms and send the patient home or otherwise fail to treat the patient. This last possibility is more akin to a failure to diagnose. In any event, an untreated infection or other serious medical condition can cause severe damage and sometimes death.

Failure to Treat Not Always Malpractice

A failure to treat is not always malpractice. If the treating doctor acted in the same way that another doctor would act in her same situation and the treatment did not work, there is no medical negligence under the law and therefore no medical malpractice claim. There are many cases where the doctor or medical provider did everything reasonable under the circumstances and simply did not discover the condition.

However, doctors are required to keep up with advances in their respective fields. This means that they should if possible adhere to the current standards of care, not some obsolete version or practice. The failure of doctors to keep up with advances and treatment protocols is far too common sometimes with devastating consequences. The doctor cannot simply ignore medical advances in his or her field. To do so puts patients at unnecessary risks as is the very definition of medical negligence.

Expert Review Required

Generally, to win a medical malpractice claim, the injured patient must show that the doctor acted below the “standard of care” in the profession. In order to do this, the patient must hire an expert in the particular area of medicine to review the medical records associated with the care and provide an opinion that the doctor did not meet the standard of care.

The expert doctor must have comparable education and expertise in the same area of practice as the alleged negligent doctor. For example, if the doctor is a cardiologist, then the expert witness must also be a cardiologist. It is important to note that it is best to get an objective medical expert for the opinion. Medical malpractice claims are challenging and expensive so it is best to have a no nonsense evaluation up front rather than to learn it at trial.

As such, most experienced medical malpractice attorneys will get a rather thorough evaluation of the claim before accepting the case. Most of these evaluations come back negative meaning the expert does not believe there was an act of malpractice. Once the expert gives the opinion, in the absence of an indication that a second opinion is needed, the experienced medical malpractice lawyer contrary to popular myth will usually decline to pursue the case.

Do Not Delay!

Medical malpractice is a complicated area of law. There are a number of important deadlines and requirements associated with medical malpractice claims that are not required in other personal injury cases. As such, if you have suffered serious injuries and you believe they were caused by medical negligence, it is important to contact an attorney experienced in medical malpractice as soon as possible. Missing a deadline can bar your claim completely.

DISCLAIMER

Related Reading:
Oxygen Deprivation at Birth: Cooling Blankets Becoming Standard Treatment
Failure to Diagnose Not Uncommon: Patients Must Protect Themselves!
Failure to Diagnose Medical Malpractice Claims: Not as Easy as One Might Think

Collins & Collins, P.C.
Albuquerque Attorneys