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What Constitutes Maximum Medical Improvement?

face mask, stethoscope, pills, and a book on a table

As medical malpractice attorneys, we often discuss helping our clients secure the compensation they need to make the best possible recovery. The word “recovery” can be a bit misleading, though. Victims who have been harmed at the hands of a medical professional often hear this word and think that it means they will return to the exact same state of health.

Realistically, recovery is a little different for every injury victim. What you must consider is maximum medical improvement (MMI). The point at which you recover to the fullest point possible—not necessarily where you were before—constitutes MMI.

Our team of Albuquerque medical malpractice lawyers at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm know how important it is to not let the insurance company lowball settlement offers for your claim before it is clear what your MMI will be.

How Is Maximum Medical Improvement Determined?

The insurance company cannot tell you what your MMI is or when you have reached it. This does not mean that they will not try. Do not take the insurance company’s word when they tell you to take a certain settlement that supposedly aligns with your MMI. Only your doctor and medical team can determine when you have reached a point at which your condition is stable, and you are not expected to recover any further.

Your doctor will consider a number of factors when determining whether you’ve reached your MMI. For example, they may look at your progression in physical therapy and whether you’ve been at the same level for a significant period of time. Your doctor might also consider whether you can easily manage your condition without medication, or whether you will require medication for the foreseeable future.

While MMI can be an excellent gauge of your health moving forward, the insurance company can make things more complicated than they need to be. Your expected MMI is not a neat, tidy answer to how much compensation you are owed. Humans are much more complex than this, and you and your doctor might not even be sure what your MMI is expected to be until after you’ve undergone medical treatment for quite some time.

Can I Speed up My Maximum Medical Improvement?

The severity and nature of your injury will have the most significant impact on the timeline of your MMI. Most injuries simply will not get better without time. However, there are steps that you can take to help facilitate the best possible recovery.

  • Follow your treatment plan. Listen to your treating physician, specialists, and the rest of your medical team. Show up to all of your appointments. Also, follow any at-home instructions, including any stretches or exercises given to you by your physical therapist. If possible, document your participation in your treatment plan. Having proof can be useful if the insurance company tries to claim that you did not do enough to reach your MMI.
  • Take your medication. Always take all your prescribed medications as instructed. Do not stop taking your medications without warning or without your doctor’s approval. Communicate any negative side effects, as they may be able to prescribe something comparable that works better for you. If you cannot afford your prescription, ask your doctor if there is a generic version that will work just as well.
  • Your body needs time to recover after a traumatic injury. You might be tempted to fill up your time with other tasks if you are out of work because of your injury. Focus on new or old hobbies that do not require much physical exertion, such as reading, drawing, listening to audiobooks, solving puzzles, or watching movies. Do not overexert yourself on household renovations or yard work when you should be focusing on your well-being.

The lawyers at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm know how important it is for you to focus on your recovery. That’s why we take over dealing with the insurance company for you.

Maximum Medical Improvement After Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other health care professional negligently injures a patient by deviating from the standard of care. This could take the form of:

  • This occurs when a doctor incorrectly diagnoses one disease as another.
  • Missed diagnosis. A missed diagnosis—also called failure to diagnose—is when a doctor fails to render any diagnosis despite the presence of symptoms or test results that indicate an illness or disease.
  • Surgical errors. Errors can happen at any point during surgery. Operating on the wrong body part, making careless incisions, and even leaving surgical tools inside of patients are all frightening realities when you go under the knife.
  • Medication errors. Doctors should always ask what medications a patient is already taking to avoid prescribing another medication that is contraindicated. Medication errors may also occur in a pharmacy.

Your MMI will not look the same as anyone else’s. Even if you and another patient suffered the exact same surgical error on the exact same day, you would probably both have different expectations for your recovery.

The Right Guidance for Your Medical Malpractice Claim

We often meet with people when they are going through some of the most difficult times of their lives. It can be truly devastating to realize that you were injured at the hands of someone you trusted to care for your health and well-being. This does not have to be an isolating experience, though.

At Buckingham & Vega Law Firm, we refuse to let the insurance company bully you into settling before it is even clear what your maximum medical improvement will even be. We know just how much goes into a medical malpractice claim, including gathering evidence, medical records, and other documentation that supports your claim. You can make your health and recovery your number one priority while we correctly value your claim and deal with the insurance company on your behalf.

For an opportunity to speak with a knowledgeable and compassionate medical malpractice attorney at no cost to you, contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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