Coping with Medical Malpractice

old white woman staring out window in a depressed way

Every case of medical malpractice is unique, but almost all of them have at least one thing in common: they inflict tremendous emotional trauma on the victim.

Often times, when the medical and financial consequences of medical malpractice are significant, the emotional consequences are overlooked. But it’s important for all those involved to deal with this often-unseen side of the tragedy. Here’s how:  

Understanding the Emotional Impact 

For victims, the realization that they have been harmed by those entrusted with their care can elicit a range of emotions including shock, anger, and betrayal. Lifelong trust issues and even paranoia may arise and impact personal relationships. Some or all of these feelings may be a result of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.  

For loved ones, witnessing the suffering of the victim and feeling powerless to alleviate the pain can evoke profound feelings of helplessness and frustration. Family members often experience a sense of vicarious trauma, absorbing the emotional distress of the victim and struggling to come to terms with the injustice inflicted upon their loved one.  

Coping Strategies for Victims 

  1. Seek Support: It’s essential for victims to surround themselves with a supportive network of friends, family, and mental health professionals who can provide comfort, empathy, and validation. Support groups for medical malpractice survivors can also offer a sense of camaraderie and understanding. 
  2. Express Emotions: Allow yourself to acknowledge and express your feelings without fear of judgment. Whether through journaling, talk therapy or creative outlets, finding healthy ways to process and express emotions can be therapeutic. Ignoring or bottling up feelings won’t make them go away and only makes them harder to overcome down the line. 
  3. Educate Yourself: Take the time to educate yourself about your rights as a patient and the legal avenues available to you. Understanding the legal process can help alleviate feelings of helplessness and uncertainty. A good lawyer takes care of things without burdening you, but empowers you with whatever knowledge you may need or want. 
  4. Practice Self-Care: Prioritize self-care activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation such as arts and crafts, meditation, and any hobbies of yours that your injuries don’t prevent you from engaging with. It also helps to discover new hobbies more suited to your new lifestyle. 
  5. Seek Professional Help: Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you’re struggling to cope with the emotional fallout of medical malpractice. Therapists specializing in trauma and grief can provide invaluable support and guidance on your healing journey. 

middle age black couple on couch with man holding sad woman

Coping Strategies for Loved Ones 

  1. Listen with Empathy: Be a compassionate and non-judgmental listener for the victim. Allow them to express their emotions openly and validate their experiences without minimizing or dismissing their feelings. 
  2. Provide Practical Support: Offer practical assistance to help alleviate the burden on the victim, such as accompanying them to medical appointments, helping with household chores, or coordinating care arrangements. Medical malpractice litigation can be complex and overwhelming, so going through the process with them and talking to their attorneys can help you understand their emotional reaction to it all. 
  3. Take Care of Yourself: It’s essential for loved ones to prioritize their own self-care and well-being. Engage in activities that replenish your energy and resilience, and seek support from friends, family, or support groups if needed. You don’t want your own pain and stress to add to or keep your from alleviating the victims’. 
  4. Educate Yourself: Educate yourself about medical malpractice and its impact on the victim and their family. Understanding the challenges they face can help you offer more informed and empathetic support. The resources section of our page offers a good starting point and a wealth of information about your situation and process. 
  5. Be Patient and Understanding: Recognize that healing from medical malpractice takes time, and the road to recovery may be long and arduous. Be patient, understanding, and supportive as the victim navigates their journey towards healing. It’s a journey that may never end, but with your help it can get easier over time. 

The journey towards healing is often fraught with challenges, but the right support and coping strategies make it possible to navigate the emotional aftermath and emerge stronger on the other side. By fostering a supportive environment, victims and their loved ones can reclaim their sense of agency and begin the healing process. Remember: you are not alone, and there is hope for a brighter tomorrow.  


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At Cirignani Heller & Harman, LLP, we represent Illinois clients in Chicago and throughout Cook County, including the cities of Cicero, Elgin, Schaumburg, Oak Park, Maywood, Berwyn, Elmhurst, Evanston, Skokie, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights, Palatine and Hoffman Estates. We also help clients in DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, McHenry County, Will County and Winnebago County. If you have been the victim of medical malpractice in Illinois, CHH Law is the law firm with attorneys that can help.

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