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When routine medical, surgical procedures result in serious harm to patients, P.2

Previously, we began looking at the issue of medical mishaps which occur in the context of routine medical procedures. As we noted, routine medical procedures, such as tonsillectomies, are by and large successful and occur without serious incident. In some cases, though, something unexpected occurs and the outcome is not a good one.

Whenever an unexpected outcome occurs with a routine medical procedure, patients want answers to their questions. What happened? Is the patient going to be alright? What long-term consequences will there be, if any? Patients also want an answer to the question, who is at fault?  

Unfortunately, health care providers are not always forthcoming in answering questions related to fault. There can be various reasons for this, including lack of established facility policy regarding patient communication, the need to conduct a thorough investigation, the difficulty in pinpointing the exact causes of a negative outcome, and especially, fear of legal liability.

Not every poor medical outcome is due to medical malpractice, and this is an important point for patients to understand. Every medical procedure, routine or otherwise, carries certain risks. Patients should expect to be informed of potential risks and should have the chance to provide informed consent. For patients, it is often not immediately clear when a medical outcome is due to the negligence of a physician or other health care provider, both because providers are in the best position to determine what exactly occurred and because providers are not always transparent with patients.

Having the advice, guidance and advocacy of an experienced medical malpractice attorney is absolutely essential for patients who have experienced a poor medical outcome. An experienced attorney can help a patient to determine whether there may be legal merit to their case, whether it is feasible to pursue litigation, and how to build the strongest possible medical malpractice case. 

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