Is It Malpractice? A Guide for Patients Who Have Been Hurt in the Health Care System

When a routine illness turns into disaster without warning, when doctors abruptly turn defensive and uncommunicative -- these are the signs that sometimes make patients and their families start to ask difficult questions about the quality of the medical care. Is it medical malpractice? Or was it just fate?

If you’re reading this now, chances are you or a loved one is facing this issue. How to proceed is a delicate and difficult task. Like most people, if something has taken an unexpected turn for the worse, you want to know why. But you don’t want to alienate caregivers who still might be important to ongoing care.

I have worked for twenty-five years advising families who face potential medical malpractice issues and guiding them through lawsuits if the facts warrant bring a suit (and usually they don’t, for reasons I will explain). The best way to proceed, I believe, is to follow some simple, logical steps.

Step One is to ask the caregivers non-judgmental questions about what happened -- and to gently insist on full answers until you as an intelligent lay person can understand what happened. Of course it helps to know that your caregivers have an ethical obligation to give you this information.

Further steps are outlined in the article.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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