When you go to a hospital or doctor's office, you put an abundance of trust in the medical professionals responsible for your health. You expect a certain standard of care. Unfortunately, mistakes can occur, and your doctor, nurse, or surgeon may be liable if you are injured in their care.
If you or a loved one was a victim of a medical injury, contact Helping the Hurt. Medical malpractice cases are some of the most challenging cases in the legal field, and they shouldn't be taken on alone. We want you to have the best legal outcome.
Our legal team can refer you to a skilled medical malpractice attorney with extensive experience so you can get the justice you deserve. Our team of lawyers will review your claim during your free detailed consultation. We will work hard to take legal action and hold healthcare professionals accountable for their medical negligence.
Table of Contents
Medical malpractice is the intentional act of negligence by a medical professional that harms a patient. Medical malpractice is different than medical negligence, the unintentional act of harming a patient.
Malpractice can occur when a health care professional provides medical treatment to a patient that strays from the approved standards of care, therefore causing personal injury. The medical professional or hospital could be held liable for their error depending on the circumstances.
The accident victim has to prove that the negligent act was definitely responsible for their injury. This is why it is important to hire a personal injury attorney that deals with medical mistakes. Different damages can be awarded, such as; loss of income, pain and suffering, and medical bills.
There are many categories of medical malpractice. Types our lawyers handle the following:
Postoperative refers to the time following a surgery or procedure. Doctors, nurses, medical aides are all responsible for post-surgical medical care. Complications can arise from surgery, so it is essential for these medical professionals to be alert and competent. If a physician fails to monitor a patient properly following surgery, they could be held liable for medical malpractice.
Post-surgical care includes:
Common illnesses, infections, or conditions that can arise after a surgical procedure include:
Blood clots or pulmonary embolism- Tissue, collagen, debris, or fat can be released into the bloodstream during a surgical procedure. A pulmonary embolism is caused when one of these clots enters the lungs and blocks an artery.
Bloodstream infections- A bacterial infection lies somewhere else in the body and enters the bloodstream during surgery. Sepsis, MRSA, and Hepatitis A, B, and C are all types of blood infections that can come out of a surgical procedure.
Internal bleeding- Internal stitches may have come apart, which is why it is important to be closely monitored after all surgeries.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)- A rare infection after surgery that can be found in the chest, bloodstream, or surgical site.
Necrotizing fasciitis- A flesh-eating bacterial disease.
Organ perforation- A surgical error where an unintentional hole is made in one of the organs.
Peritonitis- Inflammation of the abdominal wall lining that covers the vital organs.
Respiratory infections such as pneumonia- Respiratory issues can be caused by visits from family and friends, sick hospital staff, other patients, lying flat for too long, or vomit in the lungs because the patient had food or liquids before surgery.
Sepsis- When the body tries to fight infection and chemicals are released into the bloodstream, triggering an inflammation response throughout the body. This sometimes damages multiple organs and can lead to death.
Staph infection- Typically an infection that occurs after an operation involving the chest or head. If left untreated, staph infections can be fatal.
Surgical site infections- An infection in the area where the surgery took place. It can involve the skin, and more seriously, the tissues under the skin, the organs, or any implanted material.
Tissue necrosis- Death of tissue in the body when too little of blood flows to the area.
Urinary tract infection (UTI)- Typically from a catheter inserted into the bladder during surgery.
Viral infections- Many types of viral infections can be acquired during a hospital stay, especially since post-op patients' immune systems aren't at 100%. Intravenous pain medications, such as morphine, can suppress the immune system making it easier to catch a virus after an operation.
Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
Misdiagnosing a patient can be catastrophic for both the patient and their family. They may suffer physical impairments, pain, or death from lack of treatment or delayed treatment.
If the doctor misdiagnoses and treats the wrong condition, the patient can suffer from severe side effects.
If hiring a medical malpractice attorney for misdiagnosis, the attorney will need to show the doctor acted carelessly. Examples are:
Medical Device Errors
This can include medical devices implanted in the body like hip replacement hardware, breast implants, and pacemakers, to name a few. These devices can cause serious injuries and even death if misused or if there are manufacturing defects.
The hospital itself can be held liable in a lawsuit. When interviewing hospital staff, the hospital must do thorough checks into their prospective employee's work history, certifications, and education. If the hospital hires any unqualified hospital employees, they can be liable for any injuries the employee causes.
Hospitals are also mandated to accurately keep track of all patient records. Not meeting these high standards makes the hospital liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Emergency Room Errors
The ER environment is fast-paced, and medical professionals are trained to deal with high-stress situations. Negligence can still occur, no matter how highly a doctor or hospital system is rated.
Instances of emergency room negligence are:
The birth of a baby is an amazing, joyous event. Unfortunately, there can be complications for both the mother and baby if the medical team does not provide a safe childbirth process. Birth injuries such as Erb's palsy, cerebral palsy, and brachial plexus palsy can result from a negligent doctor.
There are many reasons to bring a birth injury lawsuit against a medical center or the doctor. Causes of birth injuries that could have been prevented include:
Oxygen Deprivation- Sometimes, the umbilical cord can wrap around the baby's neck. Lack of oxygen can lead to brain damage or cognitive problems. An attorney can sue for obstetrical malpractice.
Excessive Force- When the Obstetrician applies too much force on the newborn's neck or limbs when using a vacuum or forceps, leading to nerve damage.
Delayed C-Section- Failing to perform a C-section in a timely manner.
Failure to Monitor- If the nurses and doctors do not monitor the baby and the mother during and after labor, they can be charged with obstetric malpractice. Ruptured uteruses and hemorrhaging can cause long-term effects and can even be fatal.
The types of anesthesia error are general, local, and regional.
Complications usually arise during general anesthesia. One in 1,000 patients will experience anesthesia awareness where they partially wake up during their procedure. Most patients report not feeling any pain during anesthesia awareness.
If anesthesia is misused and the patient is injured as a result, the negligent anesthesiologist may be liable for any damages. Some examples of negligence include:
Medication Errors by Nurses
Medication mistakes are more common amongst nursing staff. Problems consist of giving out the wrong medication, administering medication at the wrong infusion rate, administering medication at the wrong time, giving the wrong dosage, giving more than one dose at a time, or giving one patient's drug to another patient.
Other Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can be proven in a number of ways. The most common way to prove medical malpractice is the patient and attorney must prove the health care professional directly caused harm. The attorney must prove the doctor breached their duty of care, that the breach of duty was the cause of the injury, and the injury must have caused damages, both economic and non-economic. This includes both medical bills and pain and suffering.
A harmed patient or the family of a patient who died because of medical negligence may be compensated for the damage caused by a careless medical professional, hospital, or another party. These damages are intended to compensate the victim for losses suffered and may include:
Contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney today at Helping the Hurt if you believe your physician has been negligent. An experienced attorney will know the exact questions to ask to build the strongest case possible. We have decades of combined experience representing injured patients. Our personal injury lawyers are dedicated to helping our clients obtain fair compensation for all injuries caused by medical negligence.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, click the link below for a free consultation and let us get you the maximum compensation you deserve.
Medical malpractice is negligence by a professional health care provider where a treatment or surgery causes injury or death to a patient, primarily because of medical error.
Medical professionals are human and postoperative errors do happen. Hospitals in the United States protect their employees with medical malpractice insurance. If it is a smaller practice, the physicians typically pay into their own medical malpractice insurance. Complications do arise, and some specialties are at a higher risk of getting sued. High-risk specialties include:
Why do errors occur so often in health care? Most negligence is because of a doctor's inexperience, lack of training, lack of proper sleep, or time off. These circumstances can lead to serious harm for the patients.
Some health care professionals work "locum tenens" jobs as an independent contractor, where they fill in when a hospital is short-staffed. Not being familiar with the work environment can cause an error. There is also a higher error rate between morning and evening shifts when patients are handed off to new medical staff or transferred to a different facility.
If the medical practitioner does not keep up with training, surgical techniques, or is not familiar with medical innovations.
Sleep deprivation leads to medical errors. In an effort to reduce medical errors, the ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) now limits doctors to work no more than 80 hours per week, and they are required to take at least one day off every week. They also cap their on-call work to once every three days. This encompasses clinical work from home, moonlighting, and any clinical education. Doctors must now have at least 14 hours off after 24 hours of in-house call.
Understaffing, or patient overload, seen largely in this Covid-19 era, is also a significant cause of medical error. A larger patient load causes doctors, especially younger interns, to make mistakes they wouldn't normally make.
Problems with electronic health records (EHR) can cause significant medical errors. Computers are not always 100% accurate, and the hospital staff should always double-check before administering treatment or releasing a patient from their care.
Hospitals with inadequate medical resources and insufficient funding in more rural areas of the country. These facilities often lack experienced professionals and are primarily staffed by nurse practitioners and locum tenens (travel doctors) who are only there for a short time.
Errors in communication can happen between the nurses and doctors or between the patients and staff. Information can easily be misinterpreted. It is crucial as a patient to truthfully fill out the questionnaire given before your medical procedure. If your medical injury is found to have happened because you were not truthful to the staff, a lawyer may find it difficult to charge a doctor with medical malpractice.
The Statute of Limitations on a medical malpractice claim can range anywhere from one year to five years in the United States. Certain states like California have two types. One is when the plaintiff sustains the injury, and the other is when the plaintiff discovers the injury.
For example, if you live in California, you have three years from the date of injury to file a medical malpractice claim ONLY if you were unaware of your injury. Once you are aware of your injury, the clock starts ticking, and you have one year to file a claim.
Let's say you went to your primary care doctor for stomach pains. The doctor does a simple exam of your abdomen, blames it on indigestion, and doesn't order further tests. Two years later, you see a different doctor because the pain has gotten significantly worse. The second doctor makes you an appointment with a gastroenterologist, who orders bloodwork and a CT scan. This specialist finds a tumor. Receiving a diagnosis of cancer would be grounds to contact a law firm to bring a lawsuit against the first doctor for negligence.
Before hiring an attorney, please find your state below to see your statute of limitations :
Alabama- 2 years
Alaska- 2 years
Arizona- 2 years
Arkansas- 2 years
California- 1 year / 3 years
Colorado- 2 years
Connecticut- 2 years
Delaware- 2 years
District of Columbia- 3 years
Florida- 2 years
Georgia- 2 years
Hawaii- 2 years
Idaho- 2 years
Illinois- 2 years
Indiana- 2 years
Iowa- 2 years
Kansas- 2 years
Kentucky- 1 year
Louisiana- 1 year
Maine- 3 years
Maryland- 3 years / 5 years
Massachusetts- 3 years
Michigan- 2 years
Minnesota- 4 years
Mississippi- 2 years
Missouri- 2 years
Montana- 3 years
Nebraska- 2 years
Nevada- 3 years
New Hampshire- 2 years
New Jersey- 2 years
New Mexico- 3 years
New York- 2.5 years
North Carolina- 3 years
North Dakota- 2 years
Ohio- 1 year
Oklahoma- 2 years
Oregon- 2 years
Pennsylvania- 2 years
Rhode Island- 3 years
South Carolina- 3 years
South Dakota- 2 years
Tennessee- 1 year / 3 years
Texas- 2 years
Utah- 2 years
Vermont- 3 years
Virginia- 2 years
Washington- 3 years
West Virginia- 2 years
Wisconsin- 3 years
Wyoming- 2 years
Medical malpractice settlements will vary when it comes to how long it will take to settle.
The timeline does not start the second you contact a medical malpractice lawyer; it begins when the malpractice occurred. If you hold out on contacting an attorney, the legal process will take longer, and you will lose some credibility for waiting so long to file a claim.
How serious the incident was and the extent of injuries can cause the length of time to vary. Some insurance companies will wait to settle until the medical bills are all accounted for, and the victim is entirely healed. Your personal injury attorney can set up a medical lien, so you do not have to pay out of pocket. Once you win your case, all medical bills will be covered with part of the settlement.
If your case goes to trial, it will take significantly longer than if your case was to go into mediation. It is important that you do your research and hire a lawyer with expert legal experience inside and outside the courtroom.