Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Where Medical Malpractice Injuries Can Occur
Most medical services providers are sworn to “First, Do No Harm” and to uphold the Hippocratic Oath – a decree that is taken by physicians to practice medicine honestly and with the best intentions.
Unfortunately, medical malpractice can happen in any field of the healthcare industry and at any time. While there are a large variety of reasons why malpractice can happen, many are attributed simply to the large volume of patients that many medical facilities and their practitioners treat.
Some of the common areas of malpractice include (but are not limited to):
- Emergency room errors
- Injuries in a birthing room
- General hospital negligence
- Ingesting improperly prepared or stored hospital food
Common Types of Medical Negligence
Medical negligence is generally defined as the failure of a healthcare provider to provide an adequate level of treatment for their patient that causes or results in serious personal injury or death.
Negligence can be attributed to a number of different medical practitioners including (but not limited to); physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, anesthesiologists, and surgeons.
Several types of the most common medical negligence include (but are not limited to):
- Pharmaceutical / Medication miscalculations
- Birth defects or injuries
- Nursing home injuries and elder abuse
- Anesthesia errors
- Wrongful death
- Hospital, physician, or nursing negligence
There are many areas in the healthcare industry that can be the source of negligence. What is most important is that before you visit a doctor, be sure to research their history online and, if possible, ask your friends and family for their recommendations.
All medical professionals must make snap decisions during surgery that ultimately could determine the patient’s fate. Unfortunately, costly mistakes happen during surgery. Medical professionals sometimes are not properly trained. They work long hours and face workplace stress. Any of these factors can lead to hospital negligence and potentially may set the stage for a wrongful death lawsuit.
How to Handle Health Industry Insurance Companies and Underwriters
After a medical malpractice claim, it is common for an insurance assessor to be dispatched by the insurance provider of the at-fault party to help determine the level of injury and to perhaps talk with the victim about a settlement.
It is very important to remember that insurance company representatives do not have the victim’s interests or needs in mind. First and foremost they are employees of the insurance company and are trained to obtain sensitive information about the victim and their injury. All of which the insurance company can and will use against the injured party in a court of law.
Employing the services of a law firm will assist in answering questions the insurance companies will ask and provide direct correspondence with the insurance company through the firm.
How frequently Does Medical Malpractice Occur?
Statistics show that up to 15 million individuals are injured in medical errors yearly, and a shocking 100,000 die from preventable medical mistakes. Medication errors are causing 1.5 million Adverse Drug Events (ADE) annually that are supposed to be reported to the Food and Drug Administration. At least 40 times each week, patients in the U.S. are undergoing surgeries on the wrong site or the surgery is being performed on the wrong patient.
Negligence by health care providers causes far more injuries annually than the general population realizes. For example, a study published in September 2013 by the Journal of Patient Safety places the number of people dying every year from preventable injuries caused by hospitals at a figure somewhere between 210,000 and 400,000.
Misdiagnoses are among the most common and most dangerous errors made by doctors. In addition, they rank among the most costly physician errors. Over $38 billion was paid between the years 1986 and 2010 to cover misdiagnosis claims, per Johns Hopkins Hospital researchers.
Hospital and Emergency Room Errors
In hospital settings, medication errors top the list of most common mistakes. In some cases, the wrong medicine is given, and in others, the medicine is right, but the dosage is wrong. Other errors in hospital settings include surgical mistakes, leaving surgical tools inside a patient’s body, performing an operation on the wrong part of the body, or incorrectly administering anesthesia.
Anyone who has visited an emergency room knows how rushed and hectic the setting can be. Yet, medical personnel must still uphold the appropriate standard of care for each patient. At times, though, a nurse or doctor can negligently let down this standard and create a scenario that leaves a patient with debilitating injuries. In such cases where medical staff makes a crucial error in the emergency room, the victim could be eligible to recover compensation for their injuries.
Some of the most common emergency room errors are:
- Failure to properly diagnose cardiac issues, leading to a heart attack
- Medication error
- Misread x-rays, chart, or test results
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, usually for appendicitis, blood clots, stroke, aneurysm or pulmonary embolism
- Failure to monitor, recognize or treat post-operative problems and infections
Errors with Medical Devices
Medical devices are routinely used to diagnose, prevent or treat disease. However, when these devices malfunction, are misused or otherwise fail, a patient can be severely injured or killed. If any of the following three defects are involved with a medical device, the manufacturer could be liable for the resulting harm or death of a user. This would constitute a defective medical device lawsuit.
Even if there is nothing inherently wrong with a device, medical personnel can misuse it and cause devastating injury for a patient. In a situation where improper training is involved, or inadequate knowledge or recklessness leads to a patient’s injury, the medical professional misusing the device could be held liable.
Delayed Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis
Failure by a physician to properly diagnose a disease can ultimately lead to the death of a patient. Whether it’s a misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis, the results for an individual can range from severe ongoing pain to permanent physical impairment or even loss of life.
A list of commonly misdiagnosed illnesses includes:
- Breast cancer
- Brain tumors
- Lung cancer
- Ectopic pregnancies
- Ovarian cancer
- Vascular diseases
- Prostate Cancer
In order for an individual to receive compensation for a misdiagnosis, the injured person has to prove negligence on the part of the healthcare professional. One disastrous result of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is that the length of time that passes without proper treatment allows the illness to progress to a more advanced state. Tragically, this ends in death for some patients.
Another calamity befalling misdiagnosed individuals is the unnecessary, risky and painful treatments they are given for the wrong disease. Whether a physician misdiagnosed or failed to timely diagnose a patient, this constitutes negligence, and the doctor could be held liable for resulting damages to the patient.
Below are some reasons for negligent misdiagnosis by physicians:
- Failure to recognize symptoms
- Failure to listen to a patient
- Ordered an improper/wrong test
- Failure to correctly interpret tests
- Failure to properly examine medical history
Elements of Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Health care professionals are by no means responsible for all negative medical outcomes. Only if a medical provider deviated from established practice guidelines does liability become an issue. The legal actions surrounding medical malpractice are extremely complex, and a medical malpractice lawyer has to successfully establish and prove the following:
- Duty – Health care professionals are responsible for providing patients with a reasonable standard of care.
- Breach – When a health care professional fails to deliver a reasonable standard of care, duty is breached.
- Causation – The breaching of the standard of care caused injury or contributed in some way to illness.
- Damages – These are the losses a patient sustained due to the injury.
Damages in a Medical Malpractice Case
For the harm done to an injured patient, damages can be legally awarded. In an effort to make a patient “whole” again, compensatory malpractice damages may be provided in the form of financial compensation to cover non-economic and economic losses.
Economic losses, also called “actual damages,” that are suffered by the injured patient can include:
- Medical costs
- Loss of wages
- Lost earnings capacity
- Loss of consortium (relationship with a spouse)
- Pain and suffering
What Can Be Expected From a Medical Malpractice Attorney?
Two specific areas intertwine when dealing with medical malpractice lawsuits. An attorney must have expertise not only in law, but also in medicine. Because of the complexity of these cases, the victim’s legal counsel must have a high degree of skill and be well-versed in both areas. When searching for the right attorney to handle a medical malpractice case, the victim should look for one who:
- Firmly understands medicine
- Can navigate readily through complex medical records
- Knows the right experts to contact and consult
- Knows the right questions to ask
- Can anticipate the other party’s legal tactics
Even if all of the facts and evidence point toward medical malpractice, a victim needs the right attorney who can make the crucial tie between the injury and the cause. The legal professionals at The Eichholz Law Firm have the expertise and experience to conduct a thorough investigation, develop all evidence into a solid case, and effectively present it to a jury. Our attorneys will acquire expert witnesses to dispel negative innuendos from the negligent party’s side.
Give us a call to discuss your injuries and determine what steps to take next with a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Coulter Boeschen. “Medical Malpractice Basics”, Nolo, https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/medical-malpractice-basics-29855.html. Accessed March 4, 2020.
- B. Sonny Bal, MD, MBA. “An Introduction to Medical Malpractice in the United States”, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2628513/. Accessed March 4, 2020.
- Demetrius Cheeks. “10 Things You Want To Know About Medical Malpractice”, Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/05/16/10-things-you-want-to-know-about-medical-malpractice/#717fb352416b. Accessed March 4, 2020.
- FDA. “Medical Device Safety“, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/safety/default.htm. Accessed March 4, 2020.
- Trisha Torrey. “How Common Is Misdiagnosis or Missed Diagnosis?”, Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-common-is-misdiagnosis-or-missed-diagnosis-2615481. Accessed March 4, 2020.