As a human, making mistakes is inherently attached to our nature. Whether it is our work life or professional life, we always have some room for mistakes and improvement. An accountant may file the wrong document, or a chef may use an incorrect ingredient. However, this room for errors is incredibly intolerant when saving patients’ lives. Medical malpractice can lead to insurmountable consequences, such as life-long injuries or death, when a doctor or healthcare professional fails to provide the standard of care and acts with negligence, causing severe harm to the patient.
The United States has the highest standards in medical treatment. While millions of people receive treatment without any incident, it still does not stop thousands of incidents caused by medical malpractice. According to a study, medical errors may account for as many as 250,000 deaths annually in the United States. Despite the peak rates of medical malpractice cases, fewer than 15% of lawsuits are filed against it. If you wish to learn more about medical malpractice causes, types, and how to file a lawsuit against it, here’s an ultimate guide to medical malpractice lawsuits.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE COMMON TYPES OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?
Despite the advances in the field of obstetrics, injuries during delivery occur at an alarming rate. Most of these injuries are due to medical negligence by doctors or midwives. This negligence can cause lifelong injury to the newborn and the mother. One of the most common birth injuries includes nerve damage around the neck and shoulder of the baby during labor resulting in paralysis. Such a case would qualify for a medical malpractice lawsuit, and you can consult an erbs palsy lawyer to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the healthcare professional. These lawyers specialize in filing a strong claim in your favor and help you get the due compensation. Other common birth injuries include cephalhematoma, spine injuries, and more.
Misdiagnoses are one of the most common types of medical malpractice. It occurs when a doctor fails to diagnose your condition accurately or gives a diagnosis at a very late, progressed stage of the disease. It causes the patient to either get the wrong or no treatment at all for a very long time until the disease worsens to an irreversible point. The patient may also receive unnecessary harmful treatment for a condition he never had. To prove a delayed diagnosis, you must show that the doctor’s assessment was less competent. For example, if a physician misses any important diagnostic test or skipped any crucial physical examination?
Although surgeons are trained highly, they may fall short in the operating room. They can make various mistakes, from operating on the wrong body part to damaging surrounding vessels and nerves and leaving cotton swabs or surgical instruments inside the body. Their slight negligence could damage otherwise healthy organs and cause life-long debilitation to the patient. Such mistakes could lead to an increased burden of additional corrective surgeries, causing patients financial and physical constraints and emotional challenges.
It is not uncommon for patients to get the wrong prescriptions with either unnecessary dosages or harmful drugs. Medication errors often go hand in hand with misdiagnosis but may occur under normal circumstances. It can lead to overdose or adverse side effects and allergies. You must provide the miswritten prescription or prove that the drug was filled incorrectly to prove medication negligence.
WHEN CAN I FILE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LAWSUIT?
Where many injuries result from a doctor’s negligence, not all will qualify as medical malpractice. You can only claim medical malpractice against a healthcare professional or hospital when evidence of four of the following elements of medical malpractice is proven:
- Duty of care was owed
When a patient comes for treatment, the doctor owes a duty of care not to harm the patient. Healthcare professionals must meet a certain standard of care, and anything below that standard can cause harm to the patient. This element is relatively straightforward to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Breach of that duty
A medical malpractice lawyer must be able to prove that the medical professional did not meet that standard of care while the patient was under their supervision. This element is the most difficult to prove as it requires legitimate evidence, such as a copy of medical records, expert testimony, and relevant data, to verify that the doctor failed to exercise the specified standard of care.
- The injury resulted from that breach of duty
Evidence alone in the form of medical records is not enough to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. An attorney must prove that the harm to the patient is due to a breach of duty. This damage must be a direct result of the doctor’s negligence.
- Established financial or intangible losses
The final thing to prove is the extent of damages and their nature. Damages include injuries sustained, medical expenses, lost wages, or any other damage from medical negligence. This element requires the law to compensate the applicant for injuries through monetary compensation for costs or property repair.
Along with the above-listed four elements, you also need to ensure that your claim is within the statute of limitation. The time limit is within which the plaintiff can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The time limit in the U.S. is around five years. If you file a complaint later than five years, the court will dismiss it even if it is valid.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF COMPENSATION AWARDED?
Compensation depends on various factors, including the severity of the injury and the strength of your case. In case of a successful medical malpractice lawsuit, the court will compensate the plaintiff for the following:
- Special damage includes medical bills directly related to the patient’s injury.
- General damages include pain and emotional suffering, making putting a dollar figure on harder.
- Punitive damages are the rare damages that usually occur due to unintentional negligence.
An ordinary man trusts doctors and nurses with his health, but this trust is only sometimes warranted. Medical malpractice happens more often than we think; the stats are way higher for unreported cases. Nevertheless, cases reported also fail to receive the rightful compensation. As a patient, it is your right to hold medical professionals accountable for their actions. To have the best chances of getting what you are entitled back, we suggest you hire an attorney early in the process. We hope this guide helped you to become aware of the many aspects of medical malpractice lawsuits. If we missed anything, let us know in the suggestion box below.