Whenever a patient requests medical care from a healthcare professional and they agree, the two form a professional doctor-patient relationship. When this happens, the doctor becomes ethically and legally bound to provide reasonable medical care to their clients that meets or exceeds medical standards.
If you feel that a New York medical professional gave you improper treatment or otherwise subjected you to medical negligence and failed to provide reasonable care, you can file a medical malpractice case. According to the Medical Malpractice Center, unsatisfied patients file anywhere between 15,000 – 19,000 malpractice cases in the country annually.
Before filing a medical malpractice suit, it’s essential to understand whether you have a case. Losing your legal action against a defendant doctor can cause a massive financial strain since the losing party has to shoulder the other’s attorney fees.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about medical malpractice. Read on to assess whether you have a personal injury case against a medical expert.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Like legal malpractice, medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor, or other medical professional causes injury to a client through a negligent act or omission. For instance, if a doctor’s negligence has caused diagnostic, treatment, or health management errors, the patient must file a medical malpractice claim against that medical expert.
Remember, dissatisfaction with treatment outcomes does not automatically give you enough grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Instead, these three factors should be present before a medical malpractice attorney can help you file a case:
- Standard of care violation: The law acknowledges that a competent doctor or healthcare provider observes reasonably prudent patient treatment known as the standard of care. A patient can expect professionals to meet these benchmarks. If a doctor fails to meet industry standards, the doctor’s negligence can make them liable for medical negligence lawsuits.
- Negligence-inflicted injury: Apart from a doctor violating the standard of care, a patient should also prove that they sustained an injury because of such negligence. Keep in mind that an unfavorable outcome does not always mean you can win a medical malpractice claim.
- Significant damages: Lastly, an injured patient should show that a doctor’s negligence caused significant damage. If the doctor caused income loss, unusual pain, or unforeseen medical bills, the case might be worth pursuing. After all, filing a medical malpractice lawsuit requires significant time and monetary investments.
Types of Medical Malpractice
Now that you know the definition of medical malpractice, it’s time to read about its types so you can determine if you need personal injury lawyers by your side. There are various causes for medical malpractice claims; below are the seven most common ones:
#I. Disregarding Patient History
Patient history and records are critical for providers to give every patient the care they deserve. When a doctor fails to take into account check-up details, the results can be disastrous. Medical staff should always include patient history in the decision-making process because it informs other professionals about diagnoses and treatments that might affect the patient’s case. Doing so will help everyone provide the best possible care for the patient.
When it comes to patient history, errors can come from transcription, procedure, and treatment processes. Doctors and nurses may also commit blunders when recording symptoms, medications, and past illnesses. However, the gravest fault is when they completely disregard a patient’s medical history, even if they have access to all available data. When doctors fail to take note of such information, they may put their patients at serious risk.
Any wrongful action or inaction from the doctor’s office that does not meet accepted medical practices may constitute negligence and successful medical malpractice cases. To move forward with a malpractice claim, the patient must prove duty of care between them and the doctor or medical facility, the breach in care, and the injury caused.
#II. Surgical Errors
A surgical error is a preventable medical error during an operation. For instance, if a doctor administers too much anesthesia, cuts in the wrong location, or leaves a sponge inside the body during surgery, you might have a chance to sue the healthcare professional for a medical malpractice claim.
As a patient, you typically sign an informed consent form stating the known risks of any procedure. However, surgical errors are those that injured patients cannot foresee. They are unexpected mistakes on the part of the doctor or another medical professional, such as:
- Neglect: The assigned surgeon should always adhere to strict protocols. A doctor who chooses to skip sterilization steps or use unnecessary surgical equipment with too many known risks may face a medical malpractice claim.
- Drug or alcohol use: Unfortunately, like many high-stress professions, some medical community members may turn to addictive substances to deal with the pressures of their work. No matter how shocking it seems, some healthcare professionals enter the operating room under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Fatigue: Sometimes, medical malpractice suits involve tired professionals running long shifts. Medical malpractice law does not excuse a doctor’s action caused by fatigue.
- Miscommunication: When doctors, nurses, and other team members fail to communicate, they might miss valuable information from a patient’s medical records, such as allergies. Such mistakes are valid grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Insufficient staffing: In some cases, the lack of staff can cause medical errors. This scenario may cause a surgery patient harm.
#III. Misreading Lab Results
Misreading lab results can lead to misdiagnosis. Afterward, when doctor diagnoses are incorrect, a patient might have to endure unnecessary medical treatment and procedures. For this reason, misreading lab results can be enough for a patient to file a medical malpractice claim.
With a reliable lawyer by your side, you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a professional who gave you improper treatment – including misreading lab results. Such an act can take a toll on your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Plus, the medical bills might start piling up on procedures you never needed in the first place.
A medical expert may misread various results, including blood tests, X-rays, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. These tests determine the presence of components like blood cell counts, fractures, or tumors. Whether the lack of experience, communication errors, or care fragmentation caused the mistake, the act may still be considered medical malpractice.
If you have suffered because of misread lab results and negligence caused by such errors, you may be entitled to economic damages covering medical expenses and lost wages. You may also file for punitive damages for gross negligence in a malpractice suit.
Misdiagnosis refers to an incorrect conclusion about the patient’s illness or health condition. Under medical malpractice law, this act and delayed diagnosis may be grounds for a malpractice claim.
However, a diagnosis error by itself is not enough to sue a medical professional. Instead, the act should cause wrongful death or make any sickness worse. In most cases, a patient must prove the presence of the following factors:
- A professional doctor-patient relationship existed.
- A doctor’s negligence caused the misdiagnosis. Any medical professional should always provide appropriate treatment in a reasonably skillful and competent way.
- The misdiagnosis led to an injury or death.
If a patient wants to file a medical malpractice claim, they should be able to prove that a different doctor with a similar specialty and under the same circumstances would not have caused them such an injury. For instance, the doctor might not have included the correct condition on the differential diagnosis list or failed to perform necessary tests to prove the detection process.
#V. Failure to Treat
Contrary to popular belief, failure to treat is not the same as failure to diagnose. Failure to treat means a doctor fails to perform the tasks necessary to save a patient’s life. On the other hand, failure to diagnose is the same as misdiagnosis.
In most cases, failure to treat leads to tragic consequences. It may refer to delayed treatment, treatment for the wrong condition, or no treatment at all. If a medical professional fails to appropriately treat a patient, the latter may suffer injury or damage.
Below are some examples of this medical malpractice type:
- Rushing an examination to get to another appointment, meeting, or personal matter
- Diagnosing a patent based on incorrect test results
- Neglecting to refer a patient to a specialist despite the requirements of their medical condition
- Releasing a patient too soon from professional medical care
- Failing to provide instructions for postoperative care
Failure to treat has an exhaustive list of scenarios. For more information, you may consult with personal injury lawyers near you.
VI. Prescription Drug Errors
Sometimes, medical malpractice cases involve patients who experience prescription drug errors. The strength of the malpractice claim often depends on the amount of evidence of medical procedure negligence. Below are some examples that might prove an error on the part of a medical professional:
- Administering incorrect medications
- Prescribing medicines that the patient is allergic to
- Miscalculating drug dosages
- Failing to identify drug interactions
- Failing to warn a patient about potential side effects
In these cases, a physician or medical professional can face a malpractice lawsuit for prescription drug errors. Depending on the nature of the mistake, a patient may face minimal to fatal consequences.
If you suspect that you received the wrong medication, it’s best to contact your doctor and pharmacist immediately. However, if you were a victim of a prescription drug error and it caused you to suffer physical harm or emotional distress, get in touch with trusted personal injury attorneys right away.
#VII. Poor Aftercare
Postoperative care is essential to keep patients from harm. The postoperative period is vital for them to regain their strength and heal accordingly. When healthcare facilities become negligent in their aftercare tasks, patients can relapse or acquire otherwise preventable infections.
Professionals must observe several steps to provide any patient with the best care possible, including:
- Preventing complications: A consulting physician should help any patient avoid complications, like infections, at all costs. If doctor negligence results in improper medication and infection, they may face medical malpractice cases.
- Monitoring patient health: Healthcare facilities and staff members should attentively monitor patients after medical procedures to ensure their safety. With mediocre medical care, patients may not heal as well as they should.
- Recognizing new concerns: Sometimes, initial treatment may cause another condition. For this reason, the doctor should always be attentive to a patient’s postoperative care.
- Avoiding postoperative care mistakes: A doctor or staff member can make mistakes during aftercare. For instance, they may lack attention to detail or administer the wrong medications. In New York, any error that causes injury may lead to a medical malpractice suit.
Do you think you have a case on your hands? Click here for a free consultation. Personal injury attorneys can help you determine if you can file a claim against your consulting physician.
Do I Have a Case?
You’ve now read the definition of medical malpractice and some of its top examples, so can a personal injury attorney help you file medical malpractice claims? Below are the elements of such a lawsuit. Read on to ascertain whether you have the right to claim actual damages for your case.
Is Your Relationship With Your Doctor Professional?
The first element that medical malpractice attorneys check is the presence of a professional doctor-patient relationship. A doctor and a patient usually develop this connection through a series of check-ups, diagnoses, and treatments. Because of this professional bond, doctors owe patients the duty of care and treatment with the utmost care, diligence, and skill that another professional would provide under similar circumstances.
Here are the components of a healthy professional-patient relationship:
- Communication: A patient must see a particular doctor as needed to indicate a professional relationship.
- Doctor empathy: If a doctor chooses to understand a patient’s history, symptoms, and experiences, such acts might prove the bond between physician and client.
- Trust: Patients should trust doctors enough to provide them with sensitive or confidential information.
- Informed consent: Similarly, a doctor should be honest with patients and their family members about treatment options and potential side effects.
- Professional boundaries: A doctor should always follow industry standards when treating patients.
Can You Prove Medical Negligence?
Being dissatisfied with your treatment results does not mean that you are a victim of medical negligence or that you can sue your doctor in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Two core components of medical malpractice claims are:
- Proof that your doctor displayed medical negligence.
- Proof that your doctor’s medical negligence resulted in your injury.
To move forward with malpractice claims, a patient must prove that the doctor showed medical negligence during diagnosis or treatment. You must show that a professional harmed you in a way that a competent doctor would not have under the same circumstances.
While industry experts do not expect all doctors to be the best in their field, they expect that all professionals be reasonably skillful and careful. In New York, patients must present medical experts in court in medical malpractice lawsuits to discuss standards and show how the defendant did not meet them.
The next factor to consider is whether the doctor’s medical negligence caused the existing injury. For instance, if a patient dies after bone cancer treatment, grieving family members cannot just file medical malpractice lawsuits. Instead, the patient’s family carries the burden of proving that medical negligence is what most likely caused their loved one’s death.
Did the Doctor Provide Standard Care?
When visiting a doctor, a patient can expect reasonable treatment for any illness or injury, regardless of which physician and hospital they choose. It’s also logical to think that your doctor will treat any other patient suffering from the same condition in the same way to achieve a similar outcome. If a doctor or facility cannot adequately treat your symptoms, they should refer you to a specialist who can best serve your medical needs.
This is the ideal standard care that patients should expect from doctors. Industry best practices define these rules, which are widely accepted in the medical field.
In most medical malpractice cases, standard care is crucial because it determines whether the court can hold a doctor responsible for a patient’s injury. The injured party should establish the following:
- The standard care that the professional owed to them
- The physicians’ negligence
- The negligence-induced injury
Hiring medical malpractice attorneys is the ideal next step when dealing with such concerns, as they can help you strengthen your legal case.
The Benefits of Hiring an Attorney
If you’re ready to file medical malpractice lawsuits after your physician acted negligently, having a personal injury attorney by your side can make the experience smoother. After all, navigating the legal system can become overwhelming, especially if you have yet to heal from an injury caused by medical malpractice.
Below are some of the benefits of hiring a medical malpractice attorney:
Value Your Medical Malpractice Claims
How can you evaluate your injury, income loss, and emotional distress? It may be challenging to perform this task on your own, but a seasoned medical malpractice attorney can help you objectively and accurately determine an amount for your claim. They have connections to medical experts, financial professionals, and investigators who can find similar cases to yours.
Get the Best Settlement Possible
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions to putting together the best medical malpractice claim, but legal professionals are bound by your attorney-client relationship to act in your best interests. They will give you valuable insight into the possible compensation that you can expect and boost your chances of a successful claim.
Handle All of the Paperwork
When you’re nursing an injury, the last thing you want to worry about is collecting and filing all of the necessary paperwork for your medical malpractice claims. For instance, you will have to prepare insurance and medical bills along with supporting evidence of your lost wages. If you hire a medical malpractice attorney you can focus on more important things, like bouncing back from your illness or injury.
The Pagan Law Firm Can Help You Win Your Case
At The Pagan Law Firm, we specialize in personal injury complaints, including medical malpractice cases. All of our top attorneys have over 25 years of experience in this field, so we can help you evaluate your medical malpractice claims, get the best settlement that you can, and handle all of the paperwork flawlessly.
We know how frustrating it is to fall victim to medical malpractice, especially since many top healthcare names and insurance companies play hardball in such cases. However, our top New York medical malpractice attorneys will be there with you every step of the way to increase your chances of getting the maximum compensation that you deserve.
Call 212-967-8202 now for a free case evaluation.