Medical malpractice takes place when healthcare practitioners harm or injure patients through poor medical treatment, lack of informed consent, breach of confidentiality or negligent diagnosis.
Patients hold legal rights to obtain the same standard of care from every medical provider.
So, when doctors, nurses, technicians, hospitals or healthcare workers fail to provide patients with the same reasonable healthcare as their peers would have given under similar circumstances, the law presumes they commit negligent acts.
A healthcare worker’s careless conduct must have further caused foreseeable damages to be actionable. This means individuals are entitled to medical malpractice recovery only if they are injured.
The following negligent acts are common claims found in medical malpractice lawsuits:
Lack of Informed Consent
Individuals have legitimate legal rights to make informed decisions about their health care and treatments. Doctors, therefore, own duties (i) to give their patients accurate healthcare information; (ii) to assess if their patients can understand the medical advice; (iii) to check if their patients are competent to give consent based on the information present; and (iv) to complete the proposed medical care after obtaining consent.
State laws protect informed consent rights; when healthcare professionals breach any of the duties mentioned above, the law deems patients cannot make informed decisions and can file medical malpractice complaint when damages arise.
Many medical malpractice complaints spawn from a healthcare practitioner’s misdiagnosis or late medical inquiry. When treating doctors make diagnostic errors, patients lose opportunities to treat their illnesses and to prevent further harm or death from occurring.
Legislation affirms healthcare facilities and professionals hold duties to diagnosis patients as competent doctors within the same specialty would when evaluating and treating health issues.
Invasion of Privacy
Government regulation guides healthcare confidentiality law. American Medical Association ethic rules further offer patients privacy protection; id est, all communications between patients and most medical professionals are confidential when disclosures take place privately without third parties present. Sometimes healthcare professionals invade patients’ privacy by revealing their confidential information to other people. When this happens, individuals can sue under medical malpractice theory and seek damages for emotional distress and damage to reputation or likeness from the disclosure.
Prenatal Birthing Injuries
Injuries may arise before birth when healthcare professionals fail to give reasonable medical treatment during a woman’s pregnancy. Prenatal birthing negligence can harm the fetus or the mother. Most antepartum medical malpractice lawsuits spawn from doctors failing to diagnose dangerous prenatal medical issues in pregnant mothers or from obstetricians neglecting to detect treatable fetal birth defects.
Postpartum Birthing Injuries
Negligence may further take place during childbirth. These acts may harm mothers and/or newborns when healthcare workers omit to foresee birthing delivery complications or fail to act during postnatal fetal distress. Medical batteries may also take place when doctors carelessly use of forceps and extractors to deliver newborns.
Healthcare facilities and professionals owe duties to all patients to administer drugs properly when warranted. This obligation starts with doctors prescribing correct medication/dosage to patients, running to pharmacist correctly filling orders, and finishing with nurses or hospital workers making certain their patients get what doctors ordered.
Medication errors exist when individuals breach any one of duties named in the chain above.
Careless Surgery Practices
Besides the overt act of not performing medical operations properly, patients can hold surgeons liable for damages when doctors carelessly: (i) pierce neighboring tissue or organs; (ii) remove body parts without consent; or (iii) leave surgical equipment or devices in wounds.
Careless administration of anesthesia during surgery can lead to permanent brain damage or death. Anesthesia malpractice may further take place before surgery happens if healthcare officials omit to examine patient medical history for adverse anesthesia reactions or if anesthesiologists forget to offer pre-op instructions to patients.
Now, let’s glance at the steps in bringing medical malpractice lawsuits to finality:
- Locating Medical Malpractice Authorities
Marc Grossman at Sanders Phillips Grossman and other expert lawyers use their skill and resources to win medical negligence lawsuits.
Malpractice victims should only contract skilled attorneys to represent them because winning medical negligence lawsuits can get complicated. Lawyers must have experience in examining complex medical evidence and in dealing with uncooperative insurance companies.
Keep in mind most attorneys absorb legal debts and only get reimbursed if they win their lawsuits. Law firms therefore should hold enough working capital to finance expensive medical expert testimony and bankroll costly evidence gathering for proving liability; these expenses can drain a smaller practice’s economic resources rather quickly.
- Investigate and Scrutinize Medical Records
After interviewing clients and contracting with them to bring civil action, lawyers will subpoena medical records and healthcare bills relating to the case for proving damages in court. Infrequently, attorneys may hold their clients did not sustain enough legal damage to warrant action after reviewing gathered evidence.
- Hire Medical Experts
If damages support the malpractice claim, lawyers will hire medical experts to examine all evidence and concur that medical negligence exists. These authorities will serve as expert witnesses if the case heads to trial.
- File Lawsuit
Lawyers file medical malpractice lawsuits after establishing negligence and damages exist. The courts will distribute copies of the lawsuit to defendants who afterwards can (i) file responses; (ii) settle with plaintiffs; or (iii) counter sue for damages.
The discovery process begins after filings and service. Parties attempt to study legal issues and defenses surrounding the facts of their cases during discovery.
Lawyers exchange information via court-ordered interrogatories and mandatory depositions. Once both parties review discovery evidence, they may enter negotiations to settle their medical malpractice lawsuits.
- Mediation and Negotiation
Statistics indicate that only five percent of personal injury lawsuits actually make it to trail. This means that most plaintiffs settle their medical malpractice claims out of court. Healthcare professionals often pay medical settlements to ward off unwanted publicly. Parties may try to negotiate settlements on their own while other advocates may use independent mediation services to help them come to fair agreements.
- Go to Trial
Lawsuits proceed to trial when parties fail to reach medical settlement agreements. Plaintiffs and defendants present their facts and evidence to juries at trial. Judges control medical malpractice proceedings and interpret the law for lawyers and juries when needed. After final summations, juries will deliberate and render a verdict for or against the plaintiff.
- File Appeals
Sometimes, losing parties ask higher courts to review proceedings and to reverse lower court decisions. Parties may further appeal for new trials, often citing: jury misconduct; impropriety from opposing parties; unheard evidence, mistake of law interpretation; or other issues that deprived of them of receiving fair trials. Many parties return to settlement negotiations instead of waiting out the appeals process, which may take years to adjudicate.