What should you know about filing a medical malpractice claim?

Most people who receive medical treatment are satisfied with their outcomes as long as they were told beforehand about the pros and cons of the treatment they would receive. However, sometimes patients becomes victims of medical malpractice, whether in Rhode Island or Illinois. These patients have the right to file suit against the medical professionals or facilities that caused their alleged harm. Any lawsuit alleging negligence, however, must comply with requirements set forth by state law.

What does an affidavit, which is filed along with a complaint for medical malpractice, require? An affidavit must state that the healthcare professional was consulted and that there are valid reasons for the complaint.

What should the accompanying report include? The report should state that the medical professional should have informed the patient or his or her family of the consequences of any medical procedure performed on him or her. The report should include information on the healthcare professional’s knowledge of relevant issues, details of the practice in which the person is involved, the professional’s teaching history about the subject over the preceding six years and proof of competence in the subject.

What happens if information is not included? Any report that does not meet the requirements may mean a case is dismissed in court, although a court usually offers an attorney the chance to amend any deficits in the complaint and/or accompanying documents. If a physician cannot be consulted due to a lack of time, the plaintiff can still file the complaint, along with an attorney’s affidavit stating the reason for the absence of a medical report. The court may then excuse the defendant from answering or pleading for an additional 30 days, which gives the plaintiff time to obtain the required documentation.

What exceptions are there? These requirements are not applicable if the plaintiff is not seeking damages for injuries based on medical malpractice. An example is a battery claim, which may only be related to a non-malpractice incident in the hospital setting.

Source: Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, “Negligence: Professional -Medical Malpractice,” Lawrence Kream, accessed May 29, 2015