What To Know Before You Call: Making The Most Out of Your Medical Malpractice Intake
Being in the hospital or any kind of unexpected medical situation can be scary and stressful, not to mention painful. It can cause all kinds of worries besides just getting better and feeling well for yourself: Will I lose my job? Who will take care of my family if and when I can’t?
Medical care can happen in a whirlwind and you may not remember which doctors you saw, what tests they did, what your results and medications were. Your doctors may not fully explain what is going on and even if they did, unless you are in the medical field yourself, it can be quite difficult to follow. Most people just trust their doctors to do what needs to be done and may not try to follow it too closely.
Here’s what many experts have told us: you are your own best advocate. To be that advocate, you need to know what is happening to you.
- Ask questions about your care.
- Take notes with dates and times of things that happened.
- Write down the names of doctors, nurses and other witnesses who are there.
Doing so will help you understand what’s happening and give you a better sense of control over the process. If, God forbid, a medical error occurs, taking notes will help you when you talk to a medical malpractice attorney, ensuring they can quickly and accurately evaluate your potential claim.
Medical malpractice results in the largest number of calls to our firm, but the least number of viable cases. That is because medical malpractice cases are tremendously expensive and risky to pursue. Many of our state’s laws are written to give special protections to doctors and their insurance companies; very few lawyers are willing to take these on. And those who do, have to be very careful about which cases they accept.
At Barrett, Fasig & Brooks we strive to respond to every medical malpractice call with a substantive answer; people who have been hurt and are in pain deserve an explanation, whether or not their case can be successfully brought to court. We rely on you the caller to give us the information we need to make these initial assessments. That assessment can take a few weeks, depending on the complexity of the medical issues, but the process is eased considerably when we get accurate and complete information from the caller the first time around.
So, whether or not you took notes during treatment, the best things you can do before calling is put together a coherent narrative and timeline of events so that we can get the whole story. Consult with family members who were with you, to ensure that you have as much information as possible when you call us.
Focus on these details:
- Names – It is very important that you give us the names of the doctors you have seen and the facilities where they practice. This includes the names of the doctor you believe committed malpractice—as well as any doctors and facilities that you went to for follow up care, or who have told you that your injuries are permanent or the result of malpractice—a supportive treating witness is a powerful thing if your case does make it to litigation.
- Dates – We need to know when the events happened: When were you injured or first became ill; when the malpractice occurred; when did you find out the doctor had done something wrong? This helps us determine whether or not you are within the statute of limitation, whether we will have time to investigate the claim, and is especially important in misdiagnosed cases. The time between when you first told a doctor about your symptoms and when you were ultimately correctly diagnosed, and everything that happened in between, is often critical to this analysis.
- Your Diagnosis – What exactly did your doctors tell you about your condition or injury, your exact diagnosis, and the symptoms it causes? In cases involving cancer, particularly, we need to know what type of cancer, the stage of the cancer, and anything you know about your prognosis.
- Timing and Treatment Options – Part of our evaluation of your potential claim is whether you have suffered any permanent injury or harm as a result of malpractice. Depending on when you call, it may be too early for us to tell whether you have a viable claim. We always hope our clients can find a medical solution to ease their suffering before turning to a legal one, so we need to know what you’ve been told about your treatment options and where you are in treatment. Don’t delay in speaking to an attorney, but understand that we may advise you to seek a second opinion or finish your course of treatment before recommending a lawsuit.
Ultimately, we are trying to get the most complete picture of your medical situation that we can- without keeping you on the phone for hours recounting every painful second of your ordeal. If you can be ready with these few relevant details and a coherent outline of the order of events, you will be well on your way to getting the answers you need as quickly and efficiently as possible.