When a condition warrants physician expertise to treat, we put our faith in doctors to help us. Whether the ailment is a sudden emergency or has been expected for some time, we rely on a doctor’s knowledge to skillfully guide us through a solution and recovery. Sadly, thousands of Americans every year are victims of medical malpractice and end up worse off or with new problems they didn’t have before receiving treatment. Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by the negligence of their doctor, in which a doctor of similar skill and expertise would have not made the same mistakes that caused the harm. Therefore, a patient simply not receiving the outcome they expected isnot satisfactory grounds for a claim. The most common causes for patients to seek out medical malpractice compensation are listed below.
- Failure to diagnose or misdiagnose. If a physician fails to diagnose someone with a serious condition or diagnoses incorrectly, the patient could miss vital treatment opportunities that could prevent further damage or even death. If the diagnosis was given too late, the damage to a person’s body could be irreversible or require extra treatment to make up for lost time. The foundation to these types of claims is making sure a physician with the same skill level, under similar circumstances, would have made the diagnosis faster than the original physician.
- Suffered injury before, during, or after surgery. Surgery related injuries can occur that severely affect a patient. Even before a surgery begins, anesthesia errors such as administering too much or not enough, failing to properly warn patients of pre-operative orders regarding eating and drinking, or even using defective equipment can cause damage that can last a lifetime. Puncturing organs, leaving surgical tools inside the body, or even operating on the wrong body part all count as negligence on the part of the physician and would be grounds for a lawsuit. Post-operative negligence includes improperly caring for bandages and wounds, infection, failing to monitor vital signs, and many more. Sometimes these “accidents” occur because a doctor or nurse is sleep deprived or have a high level of external stress that is affecting the attention they give to their jobs, but it does not excuse a medical professional from injuring a patient in this way.
- Negligent prenatal care or birth related injury. If a doctor fails to diagnose any abnormalities of the fetus, fails to diagnose the mother with a condition such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or Rh compatibility, or fails to diagnose a disease that could potentially affect both mother and child, such as genital herpes, this could count as prenatal negligence and be grounds for a case. Any of the above listed examples could have lasting impacts on both mother and child, cause severe damage, and even be deadly, so it is critical a doctor be thorough in prenatal care.
Sometimes injury can occur during birth to an otherwise healthy fetus. Failing to respond to signs of fetal distress, failing to order a cesarean section when one was needed, improperly using tools such as forceps or vacuum extractor, and failing to anticipate complications during vaginal delivery due to size or position of the fetus are all considered negligence on the part of the doctor. Some complications during birth can lead to cerebral palsy, nerve damage, fractures, brain damage, or even death.
- Medication error. A medication error can occur if a doctor writes a prescription for the wrong medication or writes the wrong dose, a doctor fails to anticipate a negative reaction to the drug itself or with other drugs the patient is taking at the same time, a nurse administers too much or too little of a medication to a patient, the pharmacist doses out an incorrect amount of medication or gives a patient the wrong medication in general, or if the medication administration tool is broken or malfunctioning, such as an insulin pump or other device. Some medication errors go unnoticed, and some can be deadly. Although it is important for patients to always double check their medications, the courts see these errors as the fault of the doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or drug company who made the mistake somewhere in the process.
If you think you have been a victim of medical malpractice, it is important to talk to a lawyer right away as every state has different laws regarding statute of limitations on these types of cases. An Albany based law firm, Powers and Santola, insist that if a patient has suffered significant and permanent injury, the physician failed to comply with industry standards and best practices in that particular instance, and the outcome was a direct cause of the injury, the patient has a strong foundation for a medical malpractice case. Medical malpractice cases not only benefit the patient seeking compensation, but they also keep medical care standards high and protect future patients from being injured in similar ways.