I have represented individuals who have been injured as a result of medical malpractice. Unfortunately, it's a tragedy which happens all too frequently. Every day, doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals across the country commit acts of negligence that can result in serious and permanent injuries for the unfortunate patient. Whether it involves a physician's failure to properly diagnose an illness, a pharmacist filling the wrong prescription, or a nurse's mistake resulting from her failure to properly read a patient's chart, medical malpractice in the U.S. results in millions of dollars of additional medical expenses for injured patients, and a lifetime of pain and suffering, both for the patient and for his or her loved ones.
Medical malpractice does not happen only in a doctor's office or hospital emergency room. Nursing home malpractice is a serious and relatively unknown problem which afflicts millions of our senior citizens who reside in long-term care facilities and receive substandard health care.
There are countless types of medical errors that can give rise to a medical malpractice claim. Some of the more common examples of medical malpractice include:
● A nurse's failure to remove a surgical sponge from the patient after surgery
● A surgeon's operation on the on the wrong body part or even on the wrong patient
● An anesthesiologist's improper administration of anesthesia prior to surgery
● A doctor's failure to diagnose cancer or other serious illness
● Neglect of an elderly nursing home patient
● Prescribing a medication to a patient who is allergic to the medication
● A hospital's failure to maintain sterile conditions
The injuries which result from medical malpractice are often worse than the underlying illness or condition that initially led the patient to seek medical assistance, and can involve permanently disabling, catastrophic and, sometimes, fatal conditions. As a result, if you are victimized by medical malpractice, you may be entitled to substantial money damages, even in cases involving what may appear to be only minor injuries. You can recover any additional medical expenses you have had to cover as a result of the malpractice, such as doctor and hospital bills, medications, therapy, home health care and all other related medical expenses, as well as any future medical expenses you reasonably expect to incur. You can also recover for the physical pain and suffering you have sustained, your out of pocket expenses, your mental and emotional anguish, your lost wages, benefits and other compensation, any loss of your future earning capacity, and the future diminishment of your enjoyment of life. Additionally, in some cases, if your spouse or child has been injured as a result of medical malpractice, you may be entitled to collect damages for the loss of pleasure or companionship you have experienced as a result of their injuries. And in certain extreme cases, where the wrongdoer's conduct is extreme and outrageous, you may be entitled to collect punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer and to prevent the misconduct from being repeated in the future.
Medical practice cases are incredibly complex, and provide many traps for the unwary. First, not all medically related mistakes give rise to a medical malpractice action. In order to establish medical malpractice, the injured patient generally must demonstrate that the doctor's conduct fell below the standard of care exhibited by similar medical professionals in the area, and that such misconduct was the cause of the patient's injury. Additionally, as a result of tort reform laws passed by many states, health care professionals are shielded from liability through laws which place limitations on the amount of damages which can be recovered, and the availability of punitive damages. Other laws, known as peer review laws, prohibit the discovery of internal hospital records and other medical information which could otherwise help an injured patient prove his or her case. Additionally, many states require an injured patient to obtain a statement from a medical professional before filing a lawsuit certifying that the patient has an injury caused by malpractice, and insurance companies bring their massive resources to bear on behalf of medical professionals, making life for injured parties even more miserable than it already is.
The number of nursing malpractice cases has been rising at an alarming rate over the past five years. Nursing malpractice is one of the most serious problems facing the medical profession today. Generally defined as negligence by a nursing professional, nursing malpractice can result in serious emotional or physical damage to the patient. Like other medical professionals, nurses can be held accountable for any negligence or wrongdoing that results in patient harm.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing malpractice, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your losses. Please contact me so I can inform you of your legal rights.
Common Forms of Nursing Malpractice
Nursing malpractice can take many forms. Some of the more commonly reported types of nursing malpractice are:
● Negligence during child delivery
● Failure to note a change in patient condition
● Misuse of a medical device
● Failure to get informed patient consent
● Documentation error
Nursing Malpractice: A Growing Problem
There are not nearly as many registered nurses in the United States as are needed. Nurses are often overworked, underpaid, and in some cases unqualified. To keep up with the demand, many hospitals are employing unlicensed and inadequately trained nurses from temporary staffing agencies.
Recently, a study was published in the Journal of Health Affairs found that when a nurse's shift lasts longer than 12.5 hours, nurse errors are three times more likely to occur. Unfortunately, such lengthy shifts are not uncommon given the shortage of qualified, registered nurses.
Nursing Malpractice and the Law
The law allows victims of nursing malpractice to hold responsible parties liable. Victims of nursing malpractice may be eligible to recover damages, including medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and more. If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury or harm as a result of nursing malpractice, you need to ensure that your legal rights are protected.
Hospital malpractice occurs when the staff of a hospital engages in improper or negligent medical care or treatment of a patient and the patient suffers harm as a result. This means that the care does not meet the standards that reasonable professionals in the same field and community would provide. Hospital staff includes more than just the doctors. It includes the hospital’s nurses, pharmacists, technicians and other staff as well.
Types of Hospital Malpractice
Hospital malpractice can take many forms. It can be based on: (a) a mistaken diagnosis, (b) failure of the hospital staff to treat a patient, (c) failure to monitor or stabilize a patient’s condition, (d) failure to refer patients to appropriate specialists, and (e) failure to order the necessary diagnostic tests. Likewise, improper treatment such as the incorrect administration of medication (wrong medication or wrong dosage), improper use of anesthesia, improper use of medical equipment, and unnecessary or non-consented-to surgeries may be hospital malpractice. Preventable infection resulting from sub-standard hospital procedures is another common cause for hospital malpractice suits.
Hospital Malpractice Statistics
Statistics on the number of injuries and deaths due to hospital malpractice are the subject of dispute in medical communities. There is no national system for monitoring or reporting the number of preventable injuries or deaths in hospitals, but a widely-cited year 2000 report from the Institute of Medicine titled, To Err Is Human, estimated that 98,000 people die annually as a result of medical errors. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in July, 2001 estimated that more than 22 percent of active-care patient deaths were possibly preventable.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics published a year 2001 report that cited 1,156 medical malpractice suits were litigated in the 75 most populous counties. Nine out of ten of the cases involved a patient who was permanently disabled or had died as a result of negligent medical care. The win rate in medical malpractice cases was 27%, significantly lower than the 52% average in tort cases. However, the median damage award of $425,000 was much higher than the average tort award of $27,000. It is important to note that these are only the cases that went to trial, and does not include cases settled out of court.
Not every failure of treatment or of a procedure is malpractice. Often doctors and hospital staff do everything they can for a patient and the patient still suffers pain or dies. But if you believe that the care you or a family member received in a hospital was insufficient and led to harm, it is important to contact me as soon as possible. I can assess your case and help you decide if it is worthwhile to pursue legal action. Most states have statutes of limitations that dictate how long you have to file a malpractice suit.