With their education and experience, it’s no wonder that doctors consistently rank first among respected professionals.
Still, they’re human like everyone else, which means mistakes can (and do) happen. Consider these sobering facts:
- Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the US
- Over 85,000 doctors were sued for medical malpractice between 2009-2018
- Over 250,000 Americans die every year because of medical mistakes
The reality is that medical malpractice cases across the country are on the rise. Although these fall under a broad umbrella of personal injury cases, there are some important things you need to know about medical malpractice.
In this post, we’ll answer some common questions and help you determine if you have a legitimate malpractice claim. Keep reading to learn more.
1. How Do You Define Medical Malpractice?
Many people think that getting less-than-optimal results from surgery or other treatments could constitute medical malpractice. But as you might expect, there’s a lot more to it than that.
Medical malpractice cases occur as the direct result of negligence on the part of a doctor, pharmacist, or other medical professionals. The resulting injury happened because of an error in diagnosis, treatment, or aftercare.
In short, the healthcare provider failed to meet the accepted standards of their profession and the patient was injured as a result.
2. What Are Some Examples of Medical Malpractice Cases?
Now that we’ve defined medical malpractice, let’s look at some real-world examples.
Medical malpractice cases usually fall into one of the following areas:
- Error in medical records
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
- Dangerous conditions within a medical facility
- Preventable hospital infections
- Birth injuries to the baby or mother
- Pharmacy negligence or malpractice
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Injuries caused by medical devices
As you can see, surgical errors are only the beginning. Medical malpractice can occur in any healthcare facility. It can affect newborn infants, elderly ones in nursing homes, and people of all ages in between.
One of the most common types of cases involves an error in medical records. By mistake or omission, a patient is given the wrong medication. The result could be an allergic reaction, interaction with other medications, or even wrongful death.
If you’ve been injured by a faulty medical device, you could also have grounds for a malpractice case. The most common devices in these types of cases include pacemakers, insulin pumps, ventilators, and contraceptive devices.
Sadly, each year over 2 million seniors fall victim to nursing home abuse—another common type of medical malpractice. Caregiver neglect, physical or mental abuse, and financial exploitation all constitute a valid malpractice claim.
3. What Do I Need to Prove in a Medical Malpractice Case?
Because of their complex nature, medical malpractice cases require substantial amounts of evidence to build a strong case.
By law, a medical malpractice case must meet these 3 requirements:
- The healthcare provider violated or failed to meet the standard of care
- The patient’s injury would not have occurred in the absence of medical negligence
- The patient’s injuries are significant enough to merit a lawsuit
What does this look like in real life? Every patient has the right to expect that their healthcare provider will deliver the acceptable standard of care. If you can determine that they failed to do so, negligence can then be established.
Because of this negligence, error, or omission, the patient suffered injury they would not have otherwise. The resulting injury has caused severe hardship for the patient, including significant medical bills, disability, chronic pain, and/or lost wages.
A skilled malpractice attorney can help you determine if your situation meets these requirements.
4. What Are Some Common Obstacles to Medical Malpractice Claims?
One of the biggest hurdles to medical malpractice cases is time. A patient who’s suffered at the hands of a medical professional may finally decide to take legal action—only to discover it’s too late.
In the state of Texas, the statute of limitations to file a claim is two years from the date of injury.
The other obstacle that looms is producing enough evidence to build a solid case. You must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the healthcare provider breached the standard of care through negligence.
You must also be able to prove that a different provider, under the same circumstances, would not have made the same decisions (or mistakes).
5. How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me?
For starters, a lawyer will investigate your case to see if you have enough evidence to pursue a claim. Because litigation for medical practices is costly and may on for months (or even years), you need to be sure you have a strong enough case.
If your attorney determines you do have a solid case, they’ll be there to guide you through every step of the legal process. They have resources at their disposal that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. They can obtain expert witnesses to testify on your behalf and maximize your chances of winning your case.
They also understand the ins and outs of the justice system and know how to prove that you’ve suffered because of malpractice. They can obtain your medical records, associated bills, and lost wages information. They also know all pertinent state and federal laws that apply to your case.
Rest assured that winning a medical malpractice suit is possible—as long as you have the right legal representation.
Are You Ready to File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Like other legal matters, navigating the world of medical malpractice cases is a challenge. To increase your chances of winning your case, you need an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.
If you think you have a medical malpractice claim (or you’re still trying to determine if you do), don’t wait any longer.
Contact this attorney for a free consultation to discuss your case.