Do You Recognize the Five Early Warning Signs of Medical Malpractice?


When seeking care for an injury or illness at a hospital or other medical facility, you trust that the medical professionals providing your care have the training and skill necessary to diagnose and treat your condition. While many doctors, nurses, and technicians have the knowledge and experience required to practice medicine, that does not prevent medical mistakes and errors from occurring. Cases of medical malpractice occur in Rhode Island and throughout the country, resulting in serious and even life threatening harm to patients. It is important to be aware of the warning signs of medical malpractice and to know what you can do when medical errors occur.

Signs of A Medical Malpractice Case

According to a report by the health advocacy group Healthline, cases involving medical malpractice have become increasingly common throughout the United States. Surgical errors, medical misdiagnosis, medication errors, and hospital-based infections can cause serious injuries to patients, and can result in permanent impairments and disabilities. Healthline advises patients in hospitals and medical care centers and their loved ones to be aware of the five warning signs of medical negligence:

Failure to conduct common medical diagnostic procedures;

  • Sudden referrals to other doctors or specialists;
  • Condition does not improve;
  • Lack of communication and unwillingness to answer questions about your condition;
  • Lack of proper follow up care following an illness or treatment.

In identifying the signs of medical negligence, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) advises patients to consider the ‘4 D’s of Medical Malpractice’:

1. Duty —Medical professionals have a legal duty to deliver treatment based on a recognized standard of care;

2. Dereliction
— The health care provider was derelict in fulfilling their legal duty to provide reasonable care;

3. Direct Cause — The medical provider’s failure to provide reasonable care directly caused or contributed to the patient’s injuries;

4. Damages —The financial losses suffered by the patient due to medical negligence.

Common Reasons It Is NOT A Medical Malpractice Case

Doctors have the duty to provide patients with treatment meeting the standard of care that other doctors in the community would provide in a similar situation. But failing to treat an injury or ailment is not necessarily a warning sign of medical negligence. Common reasons you may not be eligible for a medical malpractice claim include:

Failure to diagnose a condition based on a lack of communication or misinformation provided by the patient;

  • Injuries or illnesses that worsen due to failure to take medicines or follow discharge instructions;
  • Injuries or illnesses that fail to respond, despite appropriate and recognized treatments;
  • Complications that arise from certain types of medical conditions.

When to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Rhode Island

Under Section 9-1- 14.1 of the Rhode Island Rules of Civil Procedure, victims of medical malpractice have up to three years from the time of the incident or from the time that their injuries or damages became apparent to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. While this may seem like more than enough time, it is important to realize it is a lengthy process to obtain and analyze medical records and develop evidence identifying the medical error or mistakes made in your case. To ensure your rights to compensation for the damages you have suffered are protected, contact our Rhode Island medical malpractice lawyers as soon as you discover warning signs of medical negligence for a free and confidential review of your case.