HIPAA, Medical Malpractice, and You
When you go to the doctor, how safe are you and your information? This is a question we wanted to answer for ourselves, so we did some digging. After all, your health information is probably the most personal information you could ever have.
Do you really want people to know that you were tested for a heart condition or that you suffer from anxiety? Probably not.
And those are just the privacy concerns! There is also the concern that your doctor won’t do a good job and that something could go wrong. When it comes to your health, there are a lot of risks involved, and our blog helps to break them down for you. We also talk about your options in case something bad happens, which is something you hopefully won’t ever have to experience, but it pays to be prepared.
Let’s Talk About Privacy
Are you familiar with HIPAA? The acronym is short for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996—a law that was put into place to prevent doctors, insurance companies, and other healthcare providers from sharing your private and sensitive information. This regulation is supposed to protect your personal information from unwanted access and from being sold.
You can still elect to have medical records shared with someone like your spouse, but a random stranger, ex, and even a parent cannot access your information without your permission. As a bonus, your healthcare and treatment information should never be shared with telemarketers or marketing firms, either.
The problem is that it doesn’t always work. Doctors’ offices, hospitals, and other medical providers are supposed to have privacy policies in place to protect your information. These policies are also supposed to guide what they do internally to make sure that your information stays safe and secret.
However, nothing is perfect, and this system does break down sometimes. Information could be shared with a third party without your consent by phone, mail, or even in person. If that happens, you could have reason to file a lawsuit against the medical provider responsible for the leak. You’ll just need an attorney experienced and medical matters to represent you. You should hire a lawyer and sue if you find out that your information has been sold in any way. This is a serious invasion of your privacy and a violation of your trust.
It may become clear that your information was sold if you begin receiving ads for things related to a health condition that no one should know about.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Most medical malpractice cases are completely different from one another. This doesn’t necessarily relate to your privacy and the sale of your information, but it is more geared toward the quality of care you received. Doctors can make mistakes, and if they do, the best way to hold them accountable is to hire a medical malpractice attorney and file a lawsuit. These lawsuits can be brought against any licensed medical provider who caused you harm through their actions or their failure to act. This sounds complicated—and it is. That’s why you want an attorney who focuses on medical malpractice cases.
Let’s take a look at some examples. A doctor or hospital could be negligent and exposed to a lawsuit if the wrong organ was removed during a surgery or if something was left inside the body that shouldn’t have been. This would be a clear example of negligence on behalf of the surgeon or hospital. It should be straightforward and fairly easy to prove in court.
What’s more difficult is something like a missed diagnosis. If, for example, you had cancer and the doctor never diagnosed it, he or she could also be negligent. It’s just harder to prove because the case is based on what the doctor didn’t do (diagnose you) rather than something harmful that was done directly.
Both cases are winnable if you can gather the right evidence. Unfortunately, most victims of medical malpractice don’t know how to go about this, and that’s where an attorney comes in.
Evidence of Medical Negligence
Evidence is critical to any lawsuit. It provides the foundation for a judge or jury to make decisions regarding innocence or guilt, whether someone was negligent or not.
Unfortunately, most people have no idea how to gather evidence or even where to begin looking. This is where having an attorney represent you is incredibly wise. There will be no risk of being caught flat-footed or off-guard by the other side’s argument.
If you have any ideas regarding evidence, including who may have witnessed what happened, tell your attorney. This information could be very useful in proving your case.
Your Malpractice Case Could Settle
A lot of medical malpractice cases will settle out of court because it is less of a risk and potentially cheaper for the doctor or hospital that hurt you. With a settlement, they have some control over the outcome by making an offer that you will either accept or reject.
When you go to court, there is no such guarantee. A jury could come back with a verdict that goes either way—it just depends on the case presented by both sides. That being said, if your medical malpractice attorney thinks you should settle the case, you would be wise to listen to what he or she has to say. This is a decision that only you can make in the end, so if you’re determined to go to trial, it is certainly your prerogative to do so.
Types of Damages for Malpractice Injuries and Illnesses
When you go to court or try to settle, your medical negligence attorney can ask for economic damages to cover tangible expenses or losses. These are damages such as medical bills, the cost of procedures and rehabilitation, and lost wages. In other words, they are things that you can easily put a dollar amount to.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are vaguer, covering things like pain and suffering and lost quality of life. It’s even possible to receive punitive damages, which are awarded to punish the negligent party. How much you get will depend on the details of your case, how good your medical malpractice lawyer is, and whether your state caps the total amount of damages that can be received in a malpractice case.
Call a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Immediately
Each state has a statute of limitations that dictates how long you have to sue after being hurt by a medical provider’s negligence. The amount of time varies, with some states allowing as little as one year from the date that you discover the malpractice. Don’t wait too long to sue because you don’t want to miss your opportunity to recover compensation over a technicality. Instead, hire the best medical malpractice lawyer that you can.