A medical malpractice attorney notes that, while the vast majority of medical procedures performed in the U.S. occur without complication and with a good result for the patient, occasionally medical treatment results in harm. If the potential for harm was not adequately communicated to the patient, or if the harm occurred as a result of negligence on the part of the doctor or other healthcare provider, then the patient and their family may be eligible to pursue compensation with the help of a personal injury attorney who handles malpractice cases.
For more information, contact Attorney Group today. Our consultations are free, confidential and without any obligation on your part. We can help answer your questions, and if you choose to pursue a claim we can connect you with an affiliated attorney who can assist you throughout the legal process.
What is Medical Malpractice?
When a patient is injured due to the negligence of a doctor or other healthcare provider, it is known as medical malpractice. Because medical malpractice laws are complex, people who suspect negligence on the part of a medical professional are encouraged to seek the counsel of a medical malpractice attorney to learn their options. Although each state has different rule that apply to medical malpractice cases, there are some general principles that apply to these types of cases.
In most medical malpractice cases, an injured patient will be required to prove the following elements of his or her claim:
- A medical relationship existed between the medical professional and injured party.
- The medical professional was in overseeing or administering the care that resulted in injury.
- The medical professional in question was negligent, and that negligence caused the injury.
Negligence is not based on whether or not a patient is satisfied with the quality or scope of the care received. Instead, it is generally based on whether the standard of care provided fell below a standard that is generally accepted by other medical professionals practicing in the same or similar area of medicine. In many cases, the testimony of a third party medical expert is required to establish a medical malpractice claim.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
Although the practice of medicine is not an exact science, there are many situations that can give rise to a medical malpractice claim. Seeking legal counsel can help you determine if your situation falls under one of the following types of medical malpractice:
- Failure to Diagnose / Misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor fails to diagnose you properly and the result is that you are given a wrong diagnosis and/or a treatment plan that leads to the deterioration of your health or the development of some other type of injury or harm. Examples of this type of medical malpractice include failure to diagnose heart attack, heart disease, or other serious medical conditions.
- Surgical Errors involve wrong surgical site operations. They also include supplies and objects being left inside of your body.
- Premature Discharge occurs when your condition deteriorates after receiving treatment and being discharged from a medical facility or a doctor’s care.
- Emergency Room Errors occur when the care or treatment that is administered is inaccurate or for another patient and results in the worsening of your condition or health.
- Medication Errors can lead to the worsening of any current health condition, the development of new ones and cause further harm to your health. In some cases, medication errors can lead to death. This includes administration and improper dosage.
- Nursing Home Negligence occurs when a person in a long-term care facility is injured, abused or mistreated in a way that results in injury, harm, or death.
- Wrongful Death happens when death occurs as a result of negligence while under the care or treatment of a doctor or medical personnel.
- Doctor/Patient Confidentiality Breaches involve the illegal and unauthorized disclosure of patient information, such as medical records, opinions, and communication to a third party.
These are just some examples of potential medical malpractice cases. Generally, any harm that results from the treatment by a healthcare provider that falls below the standard of care can be the basis for a medical malpractice claim.
Special Considerations in a Medical Malpractice Claims
While all injury litigation is complicated and requires the assistance of an attorney, medical malpractice claims have certain special considerations that make legal counsel essential.
First, most medical procedures carry a certain amount of risk, and a negative outcome does not necessarily mean that a healthcare provider is at fault for the outcome. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can review medical records and consult with experts to better determine whether negligence may have been the cause of harm. In most medical malpractice cases, the testimony of a medical expert is required to establish a claim. The lack of expert testimony is often fatal to medical negligence claim.
Additionally, in some cases negligence may not have been the cause of the harm, but a patient may nevertheless have a claim on the basis that he or she was not adequately informed of the risks involved with the medical procedure. Where such cases there is a lack of what is known as “informed consent,” an injured patient may have be able to bring a case with the help of a medical malpractice attorney if the patient would not have undergone the treatment had he or she been made aware of the risk. A medical malpractice attorney can review the informed consent documents that are included with a patient’s medical records to determine whether the risks disclosed to a patient were adequate.
Finally, medical records themselves, which comprise a large part of the evidence in medical malpractice cases, are complicated and use terminology that most people outside of the healthcare industry are unfamiliar with. An experienced attorney can read and decipher medical records, employing expert assistance when necessary, in order to get a better understanding of the facts of a patient’s treatment and medical history.
Additional Medical Malpractice Information
It is generally thought that only a small number of medical malpractice victims file claims. While the exact reasons for not filing claims are unknown, the Institute of Medicine estimates that at least 98,000 patients die from medical errors each year and hundreds of thousands more patients suffer from non-life-threatening injuries.
Reportedly, many of the deaths that occur from medical negligence are preventable. For instance, wrong site surgeries could have easily been prevented by proper identification of the patients and a thorough review of their medical charts and or history.
There has been a steady decrease in the number of medical malpractice cases that are filed each year. Many cases come about because patients are encountering problems getting their doctors to be forthcoming about their care and any mistakes that may have occurred while they were under their treatment.
Patients who have questions about the adequacy of care they received from a healthcare provider can seek the counsel of a medical malpractice attorney to learn more.
How a Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help
To be eligible for compensation, victims must prove that their doctor’s negligence caused harm. Most states have a limit on the amount of compensation you can receive from a malpractice case. Some states, like Wisconsin, have placed restrictions on which individuals can file for medical malpractice, in addition to the amount of money they can seek and where the funds will come from.
Medical malpractice awards and compensation can be classified three ways:
- General damages, which include mental and physical pain and suffering, loss of quality and enjoyment of life, and loss of current and future wages. General awards are often not based on a specific monetary loss and are usually determined from the facts and circumstances of the case.
- Special damages, which cover past and future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity and other out-of-pocket costs attributable to the injury.
- Punitive damages, which are only awarded in rare and special circumstances. They are also regulated differently from state to state. Punitive damages may be assessed when harmful conduct is found to be intentional or so reckless that malicious intent may be inferred. The purpose of these damages is to punish a wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future.
Affected patients and their families are encouraged to speak with a medical malpractice attorney to learn more about their rights and remedies.
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For more information, contact Attorney Group. When you contact us, an attorney will follow up with you to speak with you about your case or answer questions that you might have. There is no cost or obligation to speak with us, and any information you provide will be kept confidential.
Please note that the law limits the time you have to pursue a claim or file a lawsuit for an injury. If you think you have a case, you should not delay taking action.
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