Medical Malpractice

Patients suffer medical injuries in U.S. hospitals and clinics every day. Some injuries are unavoidable accidents. However, other injuries are caused by improper medical care. Medical malpractice laws allow victims of medical errors to hold health care professionals responsible for their injuries. If a loved one dies as a result of medical mistakes, family members can seek compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Medical malpractice cases are complex, and having the right legal representation is important. If you have questions about a malpractice claim involving your health care providers, talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney today.

The Types of Medical Malpractice Claims

According to a study by Johns Hopkins researchers, medical errors are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. An estimated 250,000 to 400,000 patients die annually from preventable hospital errors. Millions more suffer severe injuries or disabilities.

Medical malpractice involves a medical professional who breaches the duty of care that they owe to their patients. When a doctor, dentist, nurse, anesthesiologist, or any health care professional deviates from the standard of care due to negligence, it can cause serious injuries or deaths. A medical malpractice lawsuit seeks to hold them liable for those injuries and the financial losses they cause.

There are different types of errors that can rise to the level of medical malpractice, including:

  • Surgical errors
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis of an illness or injury
  • Medication errors
  • Catching an infection while in a hospital
  • Defective medical devices 
  • Injuries in a hospital
  • Birth injuries to mothers and newborns
  • Lack of informed consent
  • Emergency room errors

Failure To Diagnose

One of the most common medical mistakes that can lead to a medical malpractice claim is a failure to diagnose. If you are misdiagnosed or receive a delayed diagnosis, your condition could worsen from a lack of treatment. In some cases, a failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis could mean injuries caused by unnecessary medical procedures and medications.

Medication Errors

Another common medical injury involves medication errors. Many patients suffer adverse drug events after getting the wrong medication or the wrong dose. Medication errors can involve errors by a doctor, pharmacist, or nurse administering medication. Other injuries involve contaminated or defective drugs during manufacturing or storage.

Birth Injuries

Some of the most devastating medical errors involve infants and newborns. Infants can suffer an injury during pregnancy or during delivery. While some minor birth injuries are temporary, serious birth injuries can leave infants with life-long disabilities. Types of birth injuries include a failure to monitor the patient, improper delivery, or oxygen deprivation.

What Are ‘Never Events’?

The term “never event” refers to medical events that should never happen. Never events are avoidable and particularly dangerous medical errors. They never happen except for medical negligence. Examples of medical error never events include:

  • Performing surgery on the wrong body part
  • Performing surgery on the wrong patient
  • Leaving a surgical instrument or foreign object inside a patient after surgery

How Do You File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Medical malpractice lawsuits have a stricter set of requirements than personal injury lawsuits. To file a medical malpractice claim, you will need to prove four elements:

  • The doctor (or dentist, nurse, or other health care provider) owed you a professional duty of care
  • They breached their duty of care by treating you negligently
  • You were injured because of that breach of care
  • The injury resulted in damages

Additionally, expert testimony is often required in malpractice cases. A medical expert may have to review the case and certify that your case has merit. These cases are often more complex and take longer to resolve than some other personal injury cases. Talk to your lawyer about the process of filing a malpractice lawsuit in your state.

How Much Time Do You Have To File a Medical Malpractice Claim?

There is a time limit for injured patients to file medical malpractice claims. This is the statute of limitations. Statutes of limitation vary by each state’s medical malpractice laws. Some deadlines are as short as one year from the date of the injury. There may be additional time if you discover the injury later or if the injury victim is a minor.

If you file your claim just one day late, you may lose out on recovering damages. Compensation can pay for your ongoing medical needs that the malpractice caused. To make sure that doesn’t happen, contact a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as you can to start talking about your options.

How Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help?

A medical malpractice attorney can review your case and tell you about your legal options. Your attorney can have a medical expert witness review your medical records to identify errors by your medical provider. They can file a medical malpractice suit on your behalf. They can also negotiate with the insurance company for an out-of-court malpractice settlement for money for medical bills, loss of income, and other non-economic damages. 

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