Victims of medical malpractice in British Columbia can pursue compensation for the harm done to them by negligent medical providers, with the right evidence. Even when medical errors committed during the course of treatment seem like a clear case of medical malpractice, victims who move quickly to preserve evidence of medical negligence give their case its best chance to succeed. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will use this evidence to demonstrate how your injuries were caused by medical mistakes and will advocate on your behalf inside and outside the courtroom.
Documenting Medical Malpractice Injury Evidence
Proving medical malpractice requires proving that a medical injury occurred as the result of medical negligence. This medical malpractice documentation guide can help you understand the best strategies for collecting evidence for your medical malpractice claim to demonstrate that a medical professional’s substandard care caused your injury.
1. Obtain Your Medical Records
Contact your doctor to obtain your medical records. In BC, the information contained within a patient’s medical records is considered their property. Requests to obtain medical records are nearly always granted but there are exceptions.
Doctors are compelled by BC’s Personal Information Protection Act to keep accurate and up-to-date medical records and provide them to you in a timely manner. If they fail to do so, or outright refuse, they are required to provide a legal reason to justify their refusal. At such point, your best course of action would be to have your medical malpractice lawyer inquire about the records on your behalf. If records remain withheld, your lawyer may make a complaint to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC, which oversees the maintenance of medical records in the province.
Medical records are used as legal evidence to form the basis of a medical malpractice case. They help establish how a medical error occurred and whether it resulted from substandard medical care rising to the level of medical negligence necessary to prove medical malpractice.
2. Take Photos of Your Injuries
It is valuable to your medical malpractice case to document the full extent of your injuries as soon as possible. Use a smartphone to take photos or videos of the visible signs and symptoms of harm done due to medical mistakes. If the severity of your injuries prevents you from doing so, or they are in a difficult place to photograph, request that a family member or friend take them for you.
Not all symptoms of medical injury are visible to the naked eye. However, the body frequently shows outward signs of internal problems. Photos or videos can establish a record of these symptoms. Weight loss, swelling, skin irritation, periods of confusion, vomiting, hair loss, and muscle atrophy are just a few of the external symptoms of internal medical malpractice injuries and are useful to understand the impact of a medical provider’s negligence.
To further illustrate with a common example, perhaps injuries have limited your strength or compromised your balance. In this case, you might document any resulting falls and injuries or how these limitations interfere with your performance of basic tasks. Be sure to track your health status over time, starting while you are still in the hospital, if possible.
3. Document Your Health Condition
Beyond the important step of visually recording your injuries, there’s also a need for the court, and your lawyer, to understand how those medical malpractice injuries affect your day to day functioning. To recall the most important details of your condition and your symptoms after the fact, document them in a health journal.
Keeping a medical journal also has the added benefit of helping the doctor treating your medical malpractice injuries understand your symptoms and provide better care.
The following are valuable to note in your health journal:
- Physical symptoms
- Pain and fatigue levels
- Mental and emotional symptoms
- Periods of activity and rest
- Treatment protocols
- Treatment side effects
- Environmental or emotional triggers that aggravate your condition
- Personal goals, hopes, and dreams
4. Calculate Lost Income and Financial Opportunities
Victims make medical malpractice claims in order to hold offending doctors accountable and seek compensation for the harm caused by medical negligence. These damages are awarded by juries who determine that a medical malpractice victim received substandard medical care and experienced negligence. Victims can work with a lawyer or financial expert to calculate diminished earning capacity and quality of life as the result of medical malpractice injuries. These damages are calculated based on a number of factors:
- Lost income
- Lost financial opportunities
- Medical and non-medical expenses not covered by insurance
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
5. Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
In each of the above-listed steps, a medical malpractice lawyer can assist you in compiling, organizing, and adding important context to the evidence needed for your case. An experienced lawyer can help push a medical malpractice suit forward and provide support during a difficult time. Not every medical malpractice claim is successful, but a no fee, no obligation case evaluation by the knowledgeable and helpful legal experts at Stephens & Holman can determine whether your experience with an irresponsible medical professional qualifies as medical malpractice.