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What should Californians know about medical malpractice?

California doctors make costly mistakes every day. These medical mistakes result in injuries to patients and major medical expenses. Alarmingly, doctor malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, as approximately 200,000 people die every year from medical errors. These mistakes should be utterly preventable and, yet, doctors continue to make mistakes that cause patient injury and lead to unnecessary pain and suffering.

A Californian who believes he or she may have been the victim of medical malpractice might want to be aware of some central issues as he or she contemplates a potential lawsuit. When the actions of a medical professional do not comport with the recognized "standard of care" in the treatment of a patient, that medical professional has committed medical malpractice. Essentially, the issue is whether a medical provider was negligent in his or her care of a patient.

Often, it is obvious that a patient has suffered from medical malpractice if he or she has become injured following treatment. Patients should take notice if a medical provider apologizes following treatment, as such an apology may be an attempt to prevent a patient from pursuing a malpractice claim following negligent care. Yet, an apology can serve as strong evidence in a medical malpractice lawsuit

Injured patients should not hesitate to contact an attorney regarding the negligent treatment they have received. Pursuit of a medical malpractice lawsuit will not lead to an increase in the cost of a patient's medical care or an inability to obtain necessary medical care from another doctor. An attorney can discuss the benefits of a medical malpractice lawsuit with an injured patient, which may include recovering compensation for damages like medical expenses and lost wages. With over $3 billion spent in medical malpractice payouts in 2012 alone, it can certainly be worth pursuing a lawsuit following negligent medical care.

Source: Forbes, "10 Things You Want To Know About Medical Malpractice," Demetris Cheeks, May 16, 2013

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