As much as we like to pretend it’s not the case, doctors and other medical professionals make mistakes. Though there are instances where a medical mistake is truly an accident, sometimes mistakes are considered negligence. If you or a loved one is injured due to a doctor’s error or oversight, it might be medical malpractice and you might be able to take legal action.
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or healthcare professional makes an error and…
- A doctor-patient relationship existed and…
- Care fell below the accepted medical standard and…
- A patient was harmed as direct cause of the doctor’s error and…
- There was quantifiable harm to the patient
All of these components of medical malpractice must be proven in order for a patient to receive compensation for his or her injuries.
What is “Accepted/Appropriate Medical Standard of Care”?
The accepted or appropriate standard of care is the type and amount of skill and attention a doctor or medical professional is expected to have and provide. Essentially, the question is what was generally expected of the healthcare provider in a given situation or what are the accepted practices surrounding a procedure or course of treatment that led to the alleged error?
Keep in mind it’s possible for an error to occur even if a doctor’s decisions and conduct is in line with the standard of care. There are risks involved in every medical situation and it’s often necessary for doctors to make decisions as best they can based on their knowledge and experience. Sadly, despite everything being done in a patient’s best interest, problems can occur.
In addition to showing how a healthcare professional did not meet the accepted standard of care, it must also be shown that an error was the cause of a patient’s injuries. It’s possible for a doctor to make a mistake and it not lead to injury, and it’s also possible that an error and an injury could occur, but the two not be linked causally.
Proving medical malpractice is a complex process that requires expert knowledge. If you believe you or a loved one was a victim of medical malpractice, it’s essential you speak to an attorney with the resources to help you build your case.
What are the Top Medical Malpractice Events?
The most common medical malpractice event is misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis occurs when a person is diagnosed incorrectly or not at all. A person might be told he or she has an illness or injury and is treated for that illness or injury, only to learn the issue was misidentified and treatment was unnecessary or incorrect. It’s also possible for misdiagnosis to occur when a doctor does not recognize the signs of a condition and it’s too late to provide the accepted course of treatment.
Misdiagnosis accounts for about one-third of all medical malpractice claims.
Surgical malpractice is the second most common malpractice event and most common for inpatient incidents. It occurs when an error is made during surgery and the patient is injured or made ill as a result. Anyone involved in a surgical procedure can be guilty of surgical malpractice.
Related to surgical malpractice is robotic surgery malpractice. This occurs when a patient is harmed during a surgical procedure performed using a robotic device. It can happen if a device malfunctions, leaves items inside of a patient, or if a doctor improperly handles the device. In these cases, it might also be appropriate for a plaintiff to file a medical product liability claim against the manufacturer, seller, or training staff of a medical device.
About a quarter of malpractice claims are related to incidents that occurred during a surgical procedure.
Also related to surgical malpractice, anesthesia malpractice occurs when an anesthesiologist fails to properly administer anesthesia during a medical procedure. Too little or too much anesthesia can cause serious complications during surgery. There might also be a problem if a patient is not given property dietary restrictions prior to a surgical procedure, or if anesthesiologists fails to monitor a patient’s vital signs during an operation.
Anesthesia malpractice accounts for approximately three percent of medical malpractice lawsuits.
Hospital malpractice occurs when more than one person is responsible for an error that results in harm to a patient. It can include careless actions of a hospital employee other than a doctor. It might also be the case if a patient is released too soon from the hospital.
Emergency room errors can also be the cause of medical malpractice. Regardless of how hectic or chaotic an ER might be, the staff is still responsible for ensuring everyone receives the appropriate care.
Medication errors are another common example of medical malpractice. They can occur when a patient is given the wrong prescription or given an inappropriate dosage of medication. In many instances, medication errors occur as a result of hospital staff losing track of a patient’s medications.
There are instances in which a patient is injured as a result of medications being mixed inappropriately. Some medications are unable to be taken safely with others. Keep in mind it is the patient’s responsibility to alert doctors and medical staff to the mediations in use and before being given medical treatment, patients are asked to provide, in writing, a list of medications being used.
Other Types of Medical Malpractice
In addition to those listed above, there are several other types of medical malpractice, including:
- Birth injuries
- X-Ray radiation overdoses
- Practicing without a medical license
- Doctor-patient confidentiality breaches
According to a 2006 New England Journal of Medicine study, approximately 31 percent of medical malpractice incidents result in death. Thirty-seven percent result in significant or major permanent injury.
Medical Malpractice Compensation
Winning a medical malpractice claim can help a victim of a medical error pay for medical care. According to a study in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), the average settlement or jury award for medical malpractice claims from 2005 to 2009 was approximately $360,000 for inpatient care and $290,000 for claims that occurred in an outpatient setting. The New England Journal of Medicine Study showed the average award to be approximately $485,000, with juries awarding plaintiffs on average about twice as much as the average out-of-court settlement.
If you believe you or a loved one was injured, made ill, or died as the result of medical malpractice, you have a right to take legal action. Contact us now to learn more about your rights.
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