You put a lot of trust in your surgeons, doctors, and other medical professionals when you or a member of your family is injured, sick, or needs medical treatment. You trust they will avoid medical malpractice by seriously and professionally working hard to help you. Here we will discuss medical malpractice in more detail.
Medical professionals usually do the best, most professional job they can. But what if they fail you? What happens? Medical professionals can put your life or your loved one’s life at risk, especially if they are negligent. Unfortunately, this happens frequently in the United States. Johns Hopkins did a study recently, which showed that medical errors are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. It also showed that cancer and heart disease surpass medical errors.
For a free, no-risk case evaluation, call our lawyers at McDonald Worley, especially if you or a member of your family was injured due to medical malpractice. If you think you have a case, you should call us immediately. We only charge a fee if we win your case.
Continue reading to know more about:
- What a lawyer can do for you
- How to tell if you have a case
- Medical malpractice examples
- The definition of medical malpractice
Generally, if injuries and other losses happened because a healthcare provider failed to act where other providers with the same training would have, the healthcare provider might be liable for these injuries and other losses.
If you have been researching medical malpractice, you may have read a lot about “medical negligence” or “negligence”. Here is an example or definition of medical negligence: An omission or a negligent act is a breach of duty, such as leaving a tool in the body after surgery or causing excessive damage to the body on the surgical site due to the removal of the wrong organ. Sustaining an injury during or after surgery can result in compensable damages, but you must prove that the negligent act (the breach) was the direct cause of the injury you sustained during or after injury.
Medical Malpractice Examples
Here are some examples of ways patients may become victims of medical malpractice.
Medical professionals can make their patients suffer greatly due to anesthesia errors. Local, regional, and general are the three types of anesthesia. Each one carries differing possible complications and is used in different circumstances. Anesthesia awareness is one of the gravest complications. Anesthesia awareness happens when a patient wakes up during surgery and sees or feels the ongoing surgery.
Usually, a patient can get injured or die if the provider uses anesthesia incorrectly. The medical professional can be held liable for the resulting damages due to their negligence. Patients can receive compensation for both emotional and physical injuries, especially if the patient experienced anesthesia errors.
The following are examples of medical negligence:
- Failure to tell a patient the instructions of the procedure
- Switching off the pulse oximeter’s alarm
- Use of faulty equipment
- Using machines incorrectly
- Failure to intubate
- Administering anesthesia too late
- Failure to act on changes in vital signs
- Failure to monitor vital signs
- Giving drugs to allergic patients
- Giving a patient the wrong dosage of a drug
- Giving drugs which interact negatively with one another
- Selecting the wrong drug
Emergency Room Errors
Medical professionals should always uphold the same standard of care for all their patients, even though the emergency room is usually rushed and hectic. Sometimes, though, serious and debilitating injuries are caused by the negligence of nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals. What happens if an error occurs in an emergency room? Victims can recover compensation for their injuries by filing lawsuits.
Here are some examples of emergency room errors:
- Failure to monitor the patient after treatment
- Failure to identify or treat postoperative infections
- Making medication errors
- Delaying or misdiagnosing an ailment, especially for pulmonary embolisms, strokes, appendicitis, aneurysms, or blood clots
- Failure to diagnose cardiac problems, which can lead to a heart attack
- Misreading test results, x-rays, or charts
In some cases, a patient can sue the hospital in a hospital negligence lawsuit, but only if the patient was injured in that hospital.
Firstly, hospitals can face charges for inadequately evaluating the qualifications of potential employees, which includes the level of education, certifications, and prior experience. A hospital can be held liable for patient injuries caused by an incompetent employee, especially if the hospital hired underqualified or incompetent medical professionals. For example, a hospital can be found liable if the hospital did not properly check if a medical professional has the proper certification or degree, especially if the medical professional causes an injury to a patient.
Secondly, the hospital can be held liable if the staff or employees of the hospital engage in activities that amount to medical malpractice. Here are some of them:
- Failure to adhere to hospital protocol resulting in an injury, which can include an infection
- Performing non-consensual or pointless surgery
- Misusing medical equipment
- Erroneous use of anesthesia
- Administering the wrong amount of a drug or wrong medication
- Failure to determine treatment options by failing to order obligatory diagnostic tests
- Failure to send patients to a specialist if their current physician’s care is not sufficient
- Ignoring their patients to the point that their conditions become unstable
- Not offering a patient proper treatment or neglecting a patient
- Making a diagnosis that is not accurate
Hospital Vicarious Liability
The negligence of hospital employees such as nurses and technicians can cause injuries, making the hospital vicariously liable for these injuries. This is because employers are expected to supervise and direct their employees. Hospital vicarious liability covers negligence of workers and systemic problems in the hospital. This includes things like infections acquired from dirty instruments, or an unreasonably long wait for an emergency room.
However, hospitals are not held liable for the negligent actions of independent contractors. Hospitals typically employ their doctors on a freelance basis, so many doctors are not employees of the hospital because doctors run their own private practices. If an independent contractor is found to have acted with the hospital’s “apparent agency”, meaning the contractor acted on the direction of the hospital, or is under-qualified, or lacks the requisite experience, then the hospital can be held liable for the negligence of the contractor. The patient can also sue the hospital if their lawyer can prove that the patient relied on the representation of the professional who was represented to be the hospital’s employee.
To get around “apparent agency”, some hospitals place signs indicating the status of their independent contractors around the facility or they require their independent contractors to inform their patients that they are not employees of the hospital. The hospital can be held liable for resulting injuries if the patients were not reasonably told the status of their physician, who is an independent contractor.
Medical Device Error
Healthcare professionals mostly use medical devices to diagnose, treat, or prevent diseases. But they can fail or they can be misused, which can result in serious injuries to the patient, or even death.
There are three common defects in medical devices that can open up the manufacturer to liability. These defects include inadequate warnings, design defects, or manufacturing defects. If the device causes injury or death due to one of these defects, the device maker can be sued.
Additionally, medical professionals can misuse medical devices. A medical professional can be held liable for patient injuries caused by negligence, recklessness, inadequate knowledge, or improper training in using a medical instrument.
Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
Incorrect diagnosis of an illness can have devastating effects on the patient and their family. Delayed or incorrect misdiagnosis can result in injuries that can leave patients with lasting physical impairments, debilitating pain, and even fatalities.
Some commonly misdiagnosed conditions are vascular diseases, ectopic pregnancies, appendicitis, infections, brain tumors, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, and breast cancer.
A misdiagnosis lawsuit can help the patient recover compensation, but the injured patient must prove the negligence of the healthcare professional.
The following are examples of negligence resulting in misdiagnosis.
Not listening to the patient: Patients should tell their doctors when they are not feeling well. A doctor must listen and examine the symptoms of their patients. A doctor could be liable for misdiagnosis if the patient gets sicker because the doctor failed to examine the patient’s symptoms.
Not recognizing symptoms: Properly trained doctors can make a diagnosis based upon the symptoms of their patients. A healthcare professional can be held liable for medical malpractice if he or she makes an inaccurate diagnosis, even if the symptoms indicate a particular illness.
Not examining medical history: Physicians are responsible for examining the personal and family medical histories of their patients. If a patient becomes sicker because the physician failed to examine the medication history of the patient, the physician can be considered negligent because examining the medical history of the patient might have helped the physician identify the illness.
Ordering an incorrect test: A patient can sustain further injuries if a doctor orders improper tests based on the patient’s symptoms. Once the doctor observes certain symptoms in their patients and fails to order standard tests, the doctor can be found negligent.
Interpreting tests incorrectly: Doctors are responsible to correctly interpret the results when they order tests for their patients. A doctor can be considered negligent and held liable for resulting injuries and sickness if the doctor carelessly interprets the test of the patient.
The illnesses of patients who received misdiagnoses cannot progress without proper treatment. In the worst case, it can lead to a fatality. Also, patients can be subjected to risky and painful treatments if they are diagnosed with an illness that they do not have. A doctor can be held liable for the resulting losses the patient may incur if the doctor was negligent in misdiagnosing illnesses in either of these instances.
“Postoperative care” is the monitoring and subsequent care patients receive following treatment or surgery. Medical professionals are responsible for preventing complications, aiding their patients in the healing process by prescribing medication, giving patients detailed instructions for post-surgical care, monitoring vital signs, preventing and treating infections, and monitoring patients for complications which can arise from treatment or surgery. A patient can suffer a severe injury if their doctor fails to notice symptoms or fails to monitor the patient properly. The patient can file for a medical malpractice lawsuit in these cases.
Here are various conditions, illnesses, and infections that mostly arise from postoperative negligence.
- Respiratory infections, such as pneumonia
- Pulmonary embolism or blood clots
- Bloodstream infections
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
- Staphylococcus (Staph) infections
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Organ perforation going unnoticed
- Tissue necrosis
- Infections at the surgery site
- Necrotizing fasciitis
- Internal bleeding
- Viral infections
Here are more examples of medical malpractice:
- Surgical error malpractice
- Psychiatric malpractice
- Orthopedic malpractice
- OBGYN malpractice
- Medication error malpractice
- Dental malpractice
- Cosmetic surgery malpractice
- Chiropractic malpractice
Fill out our free case review if you want to know if our lawyers can help you recover the compensation you deserve by filing a medical malpractice claim.
How Do I Know If I Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
“How can I prove a medical malpractice case?” or “How do I know if I have a medical malpractice case?” If you’re asking yourself these questions, remember that an experienced lawyer can help you determine if you have a case. If you have a case, your lawyer advocates for your rights. (It is important to act immediately because, as we mentioned above, most states have strict limits that govern how long you can sue after your injury.)
The following are the factors that can prove the patient has a medical malpractice claim and how you can succeed, as a patient, in a medical malpractice case.
Doctor/Patient Relationship: The person must prove they had a doctor-patient relationship with the doctor when pursuing a medical malpractice case. The doctor must have accepted to work for the person, so the person must have hired the doctor. This is because you can only sue medical practitioners for acts of malpractice if you have employed them.
Duty of Care: Doctors must perform their duties consistently following accepted standards of the medical community. All medical professionals, including doctors, have a legal obligation to their patients, so they must act the way other practitioners act in the same situation or field.
Breach of Duty: If a medical practitioner violates the “duty care” they owe their patients, they are considered negligent. If a doctor fails to act how another doctor would act in a similar situation, then the duty of care is broken.
Causation: To have a valid claim, the patient must prove causation in addition to negligence. Injured patients must prove that the cause of their injury was the breach of duty of the medical practitioner. The patients must prove the negligence of the doctor using expert witness testimony, other documents, and medical records.
Damages: The negligence of the healthcare provider must have caused the injury resulting in either non-economic or economic damages. This means that the medical professional is only held liable if the injured patient incurred pain and suffering that negatively impacts the patient’s future earning capacity, causes lost wages, or leads to additional medical bills. If a healthcare worker injures your or your loved ones due to their negligence, you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Suing can help you recover compensation for pain, suffering, and injuries. Do you want someone to review your case? Or do you want to know if your case is eligible to file or not? Complete our free, no-risk case review.
Medical Malpractice Case Damages
Though we have already touched on medical malpractice damages, read on to find out more detailed information on the types of medical malpractice cases damages.
If the negligence of the medical professional causes more harm to the injured patient, then damages are awarded as compensation. The main objectives of the compensatory medical malpractice damages are to provide financial compensation for non-economic and economic losses and to make the injured patient “whole” again.
Economic losses are also called “actual damage,” and here are some of the things they cover.
Medical Expenses: They cover the cost of assistive devices, prescription drugs, physical therapy, doctor visits, hospital stays, and similar expenses. Compensation for future medical expenses can be awarded to the victim of medical malpractice, especially if the injury is severe or permanent.
Lost Wages: Compensation for lost wages can be awarded to a victim who must stop working as they recover from their medical malpractice injuries.
Loss of Earning Capacity: Compensation for the loss of earning capacity can be awarded if the victim is unable to earn the same amount of money they were earning before the accident.
Pain and Suffering: If a victim’s injuries cause pain and suffering, they can be compensated for emotional distress. Emotional distress refers to the mental suffering that can develop due to the medical malpractice injury. This includes things like frustration, fear, depression, and anxiety.
Loss of Consortium: Compensation for things such as loss of aid, assistance, and companionship of the surviving spouse in the case of a wrongful death can be awarded to the surviving spouse. As a result of wrongful death of a minor, compensation for the loss of affection, love, and companionship can be awarded to the surviving parents. Likewise, compensation for the loss of things such as aid, assistance, and companionship of parents can be awarded to minor children.
Other Damages: Compensation for loss of companionship, loss of parental support, and disability or disfigurement are some of the other available damages in certain situations, which include loss of life’s enjoyment. Injured patients can be entitled to punitive damages if the doctors, nurses, or healthcare professionals acted with gross negligence, which means their conduct was malicious or willful. Punitive medical malpractice damages do not compensate the victims for their losses because it aims to punish the defendant and stops others from engaging in the same conduct.
What Is the Job of Medical Malpractice Attorney?
It is understandable to have some questions once you determine you have a medical malpractice case. How do I pick the right medical malpractice lawyer? Where can I find a lawyer? And what can a lawyer do for me?
Keep in mind, personal injury cases are different from medical malpractice lawsuits. This is because they involve law and medicine, which are two intertwining areas of expertise. These cases require the skill and attention of a lawyer knowledgeable in both areas of expertise because these cases are inherently complex. The lawyer you select should:
- Be able to anticipate the tactics of the doctor’s legal team
- Know the right questions to ask
- Know the best experts to consult
- Know how to navigate through complex medical records
- Have a good understanding of medicine
The following are some of the things a lawyer with the right know-how can help you with as you pursue your medical malpractice claim:
- Handle complicated procedures and rules the state or court may have
- Help you understand your legal options and rights as you move forward
- Determine potentially liable parties
- Determine the value of your claim
- Collect additional evidence, which supports your claim
- Review the provided information to establish if you have a claim
The strength of your case depends on the ability of your lawyer to prove a causal link, even if the facts and evidence are on your side. Our lawyers at McDonald Worley know how to negate facts that are not favorable to your case, turn neutral facts to favor your evidence, rebut the claims the defense makes through thoughtful and intelligent means, question expert witnesses, and package, present, and explain all the supporting evidence to a jury.
Call our lawyers today if you want to file a lawsuit against a healthcare provider for the injuries you or your loved one suffered due to negligence.
How Much Time Do You Have Before Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
The amount of time which an injured victim can file a lawsuit for medical malpractice against a negligent healthcare provider is determined by the statute of limitations for the state the incident occurred in. Your right to recover compensation could be prevented if you fail to file a claim during this window.
In some cases, the time frame can be extended if there is some foul play, misrepresentation, or fraud on the part of the healthcare professional. Extending the time frame gives the injured victim enough time to file a lawsuit. Once a medical mistake happens, it is imperative for the injured patient to immediately call a medical malpractice lawyer due to this strict time period.
At McDonald Worley, our lawyers have helped injured patients by recovering compensation for them. This is because we have several years of experience dealing with these types of claims. Our lawyers know what to expect from the legal teams that are representing hospitals and healthcare professionals. The key factor in the outcome of your medical malpractice case is to have a lawyer that can anticipate the tactics the opposition will use to rebut or negate your claim.
The lawyers of McDonald Worley have helped recover compensation for the victims of medical malpractice, who cannot work or enjoy their lives. Do you want to know how we can help you? Contact us today!
The strengths of our lawyers not only lay in the available resources in our law firm, but also in our courtroom and negotiation strategies.. This is one of our huge strengths. At McDonald Worley, we consult with nurses, full-time medical malpractice paralegals, and outside expert doctors and other healthcare professionals who are the best in their respective fields. We hire them to help us establish a link between the negligence of the defendant and your injuries.
Sometimes the medical mistakes can compound the difficulties you are facing in recovery because they come at a time you are already suffering from a car crash or workplace accident. Several legal situations may see you spend time in the hospital. We believe in justice for the people, so we are ready to help you.
Call us today if you or a loved one are suffering from an injury due to the negligence of a medical professional. At McDonald Worley, the consultation is free and you only pay if we win your case.