1. What is medical malpractice?
The definition of medical malpractice is negligent treatment by medical providers, such as a doctor, hospital, chiropractor, nurse, therapist, or other medical practitioner. If a medical practitioner fails to act in accordance with accepted standards of practice in the diagnosis or treatment of a condition, they may be responsible for all damages that result, including pain and suffering, loss of wages, medical bills, or death.
2. What are some examples of medical practice?
Example A: A patient has headaches and goes to the emergency room, the doctor there fails to do a required standard test that would have disclosed the presence of a weakened blood vessel in the brain. If detected, the weakened blood vessel could have been repaired by surgery. Because the doctor that examined the patient did not do the standard test, the vessel ruptures, and the patient dies. The doctor and the hospital would be responsible for the losses to the family, including loss of the support, comfort, and love that the decendent would have provided.
Example B: A patient goes into a hospital to have a mammogram, a standard breast examination. The radiologist reads the resulting x-rays, but mixes up the report with another patient's results. As a result, the patient is told she has advanced breast cancer and needs to have her breast removed immediately, when in fact, her test were perfectly normal. The hospital and doctor are responsible for the resulting surgical costs, infections, loss of wages, disfigurement, and other damages that result.
Example C: During an abdominal surgery, a doctor becomes distracted and cuts into the patient's liver, seriously damaging it. The review of the case by other surgical experts demonstrates that in her distraction, the doctor failed to follow accepted protocols and procedures. The clinic would be liable for the medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of wages that result.
3. When should I suspect that medical malpractice might have occurred?
Sometimes, the presence of medical malpractice is pretty obvious, such as example 2 above. However, the fact that the result of a surgery or treatment is no what the doctor predicted or expected does not necessarily means that medical malpractice has occurred. Anytime a person learns that doctor, hospital, chiropractor, nurse, or other medical provider did not follow accepted medical procedure, they should be concerned that medical malpractice has occurred. Quite often, the presence of a medical practice case can only be learned through consultation with an attorney experienced in handling medical malpractice matters.
4. How can I determine if a doctor, hospital, or health care provider has committed medical malpractice?
This is often not possible for the layppersons to determine. Instead, review of voluminous medical records, x-rays, or other tests might be necessary to determine whether the medical provider was negligent.
5. Should I report an act medical malpractice to any organization or institution?
Absolutely, if you have a reason to suspicion that a doctor, hospital, nurse or medical provider has failed to act in accordance with the requirements of standard medical practice, this should be reported to the State Medical Practices Board.
6. What is the Statute of Limitations for filing a claim for medical malpractice in the my local state?
Depending on your state, for any injuries, the general Statute of Limitations is four years and for wrongful death, it is 3 years. But specific cases may have other time limits applicable to them that would be shorter than the 3 or 4 years respectively. In addition, the date on which your claim arose can affect the length of the Statute of Limitations because of changes in the law. Again, please check with your local state laws.
7. Whom can I sue for medical malpractice?
The responsible medical provider, and any other organization such as a medical corporation or hospital for which that individual worked.
8. How do I know if I have a valid medical malpractice lawsuit?
Generally, the only way to make such a determination is for review by an experienced medical malpractice attorney who in turn will consult with medical experts in the field.
9. What is meant by "a breach of the standard of care" in a medical malpractice case?
Standard of care is the expected method of treating a condition, injury, or disease. Failing to follow that standard of care is negligence or in other words, medical malpractice.
10. If I'm able to prove that the defendant violated the standard of care, does that mean I have a good chance of winning my case?
Generally, you must also prove that damages, such as loss of earnings, medical bills, pain and suffering, and/or death resulted from that failure to follow the standard of care.
11. Am I able to sue a doctor for malpractice even though my case did not involve a surgery?
Yes, for example, failing to identify and treat a disease like cancer can give a great chance for a claim.
12. What are some of the common malpractice allegation involving surgery?
A good example is the doctor operating on the wrong part, causing injury to healthy organs that should not have been damaged by the surgery, and failing to catch and correct the condition that was supposed to be treatedd by the surgery.
13. What damages can I recover in a medical malpractice case claim?
Where the injury results, the damages include medical bills, wage loss, future pain and suffering for all past and future, as well as any disfigurement caused by the malpractice. In wrongful death cases, damages include the usual medical bills, loss of support for family members, and loss of the aid, comfort, society, and companionship that the deceased person would have provided to the family members had he or she lived.
14. What must be required to prevail in a medical malpractice case?
You are required to show that the medical treatment violated the standard of care, that is, was negligent, and the damages resulted.