Each year, more than 200,000 patients die from a preventable medical mistake and as many as four million more experience non-fatal errors that can delay treatment, compromise care, or otherwise put the patient at risk for serious injury or illness. And then there are those who experience willfully malicious acts (such as sexual abuse at the hands of their physician) that may or may not affect treatment or diagnosis but can cause great harm.
Some incidents may be fairly clear-cut, with substantial evidence indicating negligence or medical malpractice. However, many may lack such evidence and, in some cases, the mistake (or its consequence) may not be immediately evident. For example, a patient who has cancer but is misdiagnosed may not learn until long after the fact. Either way, patients should know when and how to file a complaint against their doctor, should the need arise.
When to File a Complaint
Any doctor who causes harm or injury, delays treatment, or otherwise provides substandard care is subject to a formal complaint. This encompasses a number of possible acts, including (but not limited to):
- Improper diagnosis,
- Prescribing issues (wrong prescription or wrong dosage),
- Removal of a wrong body part,
- Preventable illness (i.e. exposes patient to bacteria that causes an infection),
- Preventable injury,
- Not following up with patient in a timely manner after testing,
- Failure to complete or order all necessary tests,
- Treating a patient while under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
- Dishonesty in treatment, diagnosis, or prognosis,
- Sexual abuse,
- Physical abuse,
- Mental abuse, and
- Treating for the wrong illness.
If you believe you or a loved one has experienced any of these situations, you should contact your state's licensing board and file a complaint against your doctor.
How to File a Complaint
When a doctor's actions warrant a complaint, patients can file their complaint with their state's licensing board. Once it is filed, you will need to collect as much information as possible about the situation. Obtain a hard copy of your medical records along with any other supporting documents and then be prepared to submit them to your doctor's state licensing board. An analyst will then review the information and, if necessary, request that you gather additional information that they may need to fully investigate the case. This can take several months, but you should receive notification of the final ruling.
Other Actions You May Be Able to Take
If your physician has committed a criminal act, such as fraud or sexual or physical abuse, you should also file a report with local law enforcement and obtain copies of the report for the licensing board. If you have suffered severe injury or illness or have to face additional treatment that may not have been needed, had your doctor acted appropriately (i.e. needing more aggressive cancer treatment after a delayed diagnosis), you may also be entitled compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
At Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. we are committed to advocacy and justice for victims of medical malpractice. Skilled and experienced, we aggressively fight for your rights and best interest, helping you pursue the compensation you deserve. To find out more about our comprehensive services, schedule a free initial consultation with a Chicago medical malpractice attorney. Call us at [[phone]] today.