Countless patients in Charleston go and see a physician and receive a diagnosis, treatment for what ails them, or undergo a surgery without suffering any adverse consequences. However, a small handful end up experiencing unanticipated declines in their health or suffer an injury due to their doctor’s negligence.
West Virginia law allows individuals harmed while under the care of a physician to pursue a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit to recover compensation for their losses. Our attorneys at DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC can help you determine if you’re eligible to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit yourself. You can also count on our lawyers to know how to build a strong case if you opt to take legal action here in Charleston. Below, we’ll discuss how to search for a doctor’s medical malpractice history as you build your case.
What Is a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
A medical malpractice suit is a civil lawsuit filed against a health care provider, alleging that they caused injury or death to a patient due to their negligence. For a case to be successful, the plaintiff must prove that their medical provider breached their duty of care and that this breach resulted in harm to the patient.
When building a case, any proof that you can present showing your doctor has a track record of negligence may strengthen your own case. Determining if your doctor has a legitimate malpractice history is one way you can do this.
Methods for Determining a Doctor’s Medical Status
Each state has a board that issues and regulates doctors’ licenses to practice medicine. These boards typically keep track of physician disciplinary action as well as medical malpractice claims. The West Virginia Board of Medicine maintains a search engine where you can learn about any professional misconduct or disciplinary measures taken against a physician. It’s on that doctor’s listing that you’ll also see if there are any malpractice lawsuits currently pending against them. These could allege injury, harm, or death due to improper medical care.
Just keep in mind when looking at the information posted on the state medical board’s website how patients may sue physicians for any reason, so you should judge each injury claim on its merits. Additional searches will likely be necessary if a lawsuit has resulted in West Virginia’s medical board taking disciplinary action against your physician.
Also, consider visiting the Administrators in Medicine (AIM) website. AIM is a non-profit organization serving state board executives. In its DocFinder physician directory, AIM collects all state medical board licensing and disciplinary data. You can also check the Federation of State Medical Board’s (FSMB) DocInfo, which provides similar information. Look for patterns of multiple claims or complaints against the doctor. For example, one lawsuit may not be significant, but numerous claims may indicate a problem.
Check Other Reliable Sources
Multiple organizations, such as the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), also rate physicians based on patient reviews and other data. Also, your insurance company has a rating system for network doctors. Furthermore, the FSMB also has the option to contact any state’s medical board to get information on a physician’s license.
Another avenue you can explore is the American Medical Association (AMA) website. The AMA has a database called “AMA DoctorFinder,” where you can search for a physician and see if a state medical board has disciplined them.
Check Court Records for a History of Medical Malpractice
You can also search Kanawha County court records for a Charleston, WV doctor’s medical malpractice history. In some cases, the information from these lawsuits is available online. If a person files a medical malpractice lawsuit here in West Virginia, then the court where the attorney filed the case will store any case records.
At the very least, you should be able to see whether a doctor has ever been sued. If the records from the lawsuit are not available online, you can usually go to the courthouse where the case was filed and pay for a paper copy of any filings if that’s the case.
When looking for legal records, be cautious. Patients sometimes sue their doctors because they were offended by poor bedside manners. Because there is no medical malpractice, courts typically “throw out” these lawsuits. In other words, do not assume they committed any medical blunder simply because a fellow Charleston resident has sued a doctor.
Be Aware of the Types of Malpractice Complaints
A lawyer specializing in medical malpractice like the members of our DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC legal team can inform you of the types of physician complaints worth investigating. These include:
- Drug errors: These include errors in prescribing, compounding, and dispensing drugs.
- Unnecessary/Inappropriate surgery: This may include performing the wrong surgery on the wrong body part or an unnecessary procedure.
- Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis: A failure to properly diagnose a condition or a delay in diagnosis can cause serious harm.
These are some of the most common complaints. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, and you should always consult with a medical malpractice lawyer in our Charleston, WV office to get specific advice on your case.
Seek Reliable Representation in Any Medical Malpractice Case
If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, it is important to seek reliable and experienced legal representation. Our team of personal injury lawyers have extensive experience advocating for clients in medical malpractice cases and securing maximum compensation for what they’ve been through.
A personal injury lawyer can remove the inherent risks of dealing with a complex case like medical malpractice by ensuring you have the best possible success. They can also handle all the paperwork and red tape associated with filing a claim so that you can focus on your recovery. Without a lawyer, you’ll have to front the costs of the lawsuit, which can be as much as $500, and also pay for the copies of medical records relevant to your case upfront. These costs do not include witness fees, court reporters, and other necessary legal expenses.
A personal injury lawyer can help you recoup these costs if you win your case and handle the complex medical and legal concepts necessary to have a successful claim. Contact DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC now if you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice here in Charleston. We’ll schedule a consultation between you and one of our medical malpractice attorneys to discuss whether you have a valid claim per West Virginia law.