When an injury results from medical treatment that deviates from accepted standards of care or as a result of negligent doctors, hospitals and other medical professionals, you may be entitled to compensation. Medical malpractice lawsuits, which are extremely complex and expensive cases, can help you recover damages to compensate for your pain and loss of enjoyment of life, in addition to lost wages and medical bills.
What are Standards of Care?
Though medical care is highly complex, there are a finite number of issues that afflict people with any regularity. Because of this, standards have emerged that the medical community has agreed should be followed in almost any given medical situation.
Therefore, if a patient arrives at a medical facility with one or several symptoms, the attending physician should perform a series of predetermined steps to diagnose and treat the patient. These rather inflexible, predetermined steps are standard; they’re standards of care. Standards of care can vary by specific circumstances but most often involve questions and steps, such as:
- Was an investigation conducted and did the doctor take steps that they would have been reasonably expected to take?
- Was a diagnosis pursued?
- Was treatment provided in a timely manner?
- Was the patient informed of risks (This is known as informed consent.)?
- Did the healthcare facility provide healthcare professionals who were qualified to provide to the care that was needed?
Standards of care involve agreed-upon rules, but medical professionals can disagree on what action should have been taken in relation to specific situations. Questions regarding the medical issue itself may affect standards of care, as well as the location of the facility in which the care was provided and the resources at the facility’s disposal. Malpractice claims can be complex or difficult to prove.
The researchers at Johns Hopkins estimate that there are actually more than 250,000 deaths due to malpractice each year. If this were the reported number, medical malpractice would be the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.
Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
It’s important to note that being dissatisfied with the outcome of treatment is not the same thing as malpractice. For example, if a patient had plastic surgery and didn’t like the results, but the doctor executed the surgery as discussed and cared for the patient according to all guidelines, it’s not likely to be a malpractice case.
Malpractice is a failure to care for the patient according to established standards. As a result of this failure, an injury with damaging consequences occurs:
- The medical professional failed to care for the patient according to certain standards. Laws regulate the medical profession requires doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to follow established standards and protocol for patient care.
- The patient suffers from harm or injury.
- The patient must prove that the medical professional caused them harm or injury that would not have happened if proper standards and protocol had been followed.
- Resulting damages. The harm or injury caused by the medical professional’s negligence caused considerable damage, such as pain, disability, inability to work/loss of income and suffering.
Medical malpractice can occur as a result of many different negligences or errors. At Stealey Law & Mediation, we most commonly see cases relating to:
- Misdiagnosis of cancer
- Misdiagnosis of cardiac conditions
- Misdiagnosis in pediatrics
- Prescribing experimental drugs or the wrong drugs
- Performing cosmetic surgery
- Birth injuries or death resulting from delayed C-section procedure, failure to monitor the fetus or improper delivery technique
- Falls in the facility which cause injury
- And more
Why You Need a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Malpractice cases are among the most complex legal cases and require extensive research and planning.
A lawyer that specializes in medical malpractice:
- Knows state laws
- Can identify medical malpractice more easily
- Can build out your case
- Can talk to insurance companies for you
- Has a network of medical professionals available for consultation and evaluation of cases
Medical malpractice is very complex, and navigating the case can be confusing, overwhelming and emotional.