Definition of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice is a legal term that describes the professional negligence of a healthcare provider in which the treatment or diagnosis given to a patient falls below the accepted standard of practice in the medical community, resulting in harm or injury to the patient.
It can involve errors made by doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and other health care personnel.
These medical errors can have serious repercussions for patients which include physical pain and suffering as well as financial losses due to increased medical expenses and lost wages from missed work. In some cases, it may even lead to death.
Types of Medical Malpractice Cases an Attorney Handles
1. Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose
These cases involve a medical professional who either fails to recognize a medical condition, or fails to provide the necessary treatment once a diagnosis has been made.
A good medical malpractice attorney can assist victims of misdiagnoses or failure to diagnose in obtaining financial compensation for their losses. To do so, they must establish that a doctor failed to exercise reasonable care when diagnosing or treating a patient’s condition.
The medical malpractice attorney will typically review the patient’s medical records and consult with other healthcare professionals to assess the quality of care provided by the defendant doctor. They may also explore evidence such as police reports and eyewitness statements that could further support their client’s case.
2. Surgical Errors
This type of case involves a surgical procedure that was performed negligently, resulting in injury or death to the patient.
This may include surgery that was not necessary, performed incorrectly, or with equipment that was defective or damaged.
It can also involve procedures being conducted without proper informed consent from the patient.
Common types of surgical errors include:
- wrong-site surgeries;
- operating on the wrong body part;
- anesthetic mishaps, such as giving too much or not enough anesthesia or failing to monitor for adverse reactions;
- leaving foreign objects inside a patient’s body after surgery; and
- performing unnecessary operations.
3. Medication Errors
Medication errors can be caused by a variety of factors, including misdiagnosis, prescription errors, failure to properly monitor a patient’s health after prescribing medication, or even incorrect dosage amounts.
Some typical examples of medication of errors are the following:
- A physician who fails to prescribe the correct medication for a particular condition;
- A pharmacist who incorrectly fills a prescription;
- A physician who failed to properly inform the patient about the potential side effects and dangers associated with certain medications or treatments;
- A physician who failed to provide proper instructions on how to take medications; and
- A physician who failed to adequately monitor patients’ health while taking medications.
4. Birth Injuries
These cases involve injuries that occur to newborns during birth or delivery, which often result in lifelong consequences for the baby and family.
Common birth injury claims involve cerebral palsy, shoulder dystocia, brachial plexus injuries, Erb’s palsy, and other severe trauma due to an oxygen deprivation.
Birth injury claims can be complex because they require proving that the doctor did not provide adequate care during labor and delivery.
In these types of cases, a medical malpractice attorney should have experience in medical malpractice and specifically with birth injury claims. They will work to investigate the cause of the injury and explore all potential defendants who may have contributed to it.
Legal Requirements for a Valid Malpractice Claim
A valid malpractice claim requires that the plaintiff prove negligence in order to receive compensation for physical or emotional suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses.
Negligence means that a professional has failed to provide a standard of care that is consistent with accepted practices in his or her field.
In other words, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the health care provider owed a duty of care (this means that the provider was obligated to act in accordance with accepted standards for medical professionals). And if they fail to meet these standards, then they have breached their duty of care.
Generally speaking, a breach of this duty is determined by whether or not another competent medical professional would have done something differently in the same situation.
Also, it must also be demonstrated that this breach was the cause of harm to the patient and that the patient suffered damages as a result.
Not every case of negligent treatment will be considered malpractice; there must be sufficient evidence demonstrating how and why it failed to meet accepted standards of care. And this is where a good medical malpractice attorney will come.
One thing to keep in mind is the statute of limitations – a certain period of time within which the lawsuit must be filed – depending on state laws and any specific regulations related to malpractice cases in particular.
Failing to file suit within the specified time frame could make it impossible for an injured party to recover damages from their injury.
Benefits of Hiring a Medical Malpractice Attorney
These attorneys have experience in navigating the complexities of applicable laws, as well as an understanding of each step of the litigation process.
Medical malpractice attorneys also have the ability to gather relevant evidence and thoroughly analyze facts.
They are adept at identifying and collecting all available forms of evidence, including witness testimony, medical records, expert opinions, and other documents that can be used to build a strong case on behalf of their client.
Furthermore, they will investigate all aspects of the incident in question and meticulously evaluate every detail in order to establish clear liability.
Medical malpractice attorneys also possess a working knowledge of the discipline of medicine. This allows them to better comprehend complex medical concepts and terminology related to claims. Moreover, it aids them in interpreting evidence and preparing detailed legal arguments.
In addition, they are familiar with various strategies employed by insurance companies who attempt to minimize or deny legitimate claims for compensation.
Having a medical malpractice attorney can give you an edge against insurance companies and increase your chances for success.
Factors that Affect the Amount Awarded in a Settlement or Verdict
Settlements and verdicts are two different types of outcomes to a claim of medical malpractice, and they each have unique factors that affect the amount awarded.
A settlement is an agreement between the plaintiff (the injured person) and defendant (the negligent doctor or hospital) that resolves the dispute out of court.
In a settlement, both parties agree on how much money will be paid to the plaintiff as compensation for their pain, suffering, economic losses, medical costs, and other damages related to the injury.
The settlement amount is usually less than what might be obtained if the case went to trial; however this is offset by not having to pay legal fees associated with proceeding with a trial.
Common factors that may affect how much money is awarded in a settlement include:
- severity of injury;
- strength of evidence;
- liability issues;
- financial resources of defendant; and
- insurance coverage limits.
On the other hand, if an agreement cannot be reached between all parties involved and the case goes to trial in front of a jury or judge, a verdict will be issued at the end of trial.
A verdict is generally higher than what would be offered in a pre-trial settlement as it involves more risk on behalf of both parties.
Common factors that will affect the amount that will be awarded in verdicts include:
- complexity of the legal issues involved in case;
- state laws applicable to malpractice cases;
- nature/ degree of negligence attributed to healthcare provider(s);
- reputation/credibility strength of witnesses testifying for either side; and
- reasonable doubt raised by defense during cross examination
Filing a medical malpractice claim requires the guidance of a medical malpractice attorney. They can help injured parties navigate the complexities of applicable laws, evaluate evidence, identify liable parties, and assess the value of their claims in order to receive fair compensation.
Also, by understanding how settlements and verdicts are determined, plaintiffs can be better prepared to make informed decisions regarding their cases.
“Justice is truth in action.” – Benjamin Disraeli.