Medical issues can be scary and confusing, and we turn to doctors to help us get better. When medical treatment is needed, an immense amount of trust is placed in doctors, nurses, surgeons, and all other medical professionals. We count on them to ensure we are being treated in the best and safest ways possible. We trust that they are correctly diagnosing and taking care of us or our loved ones correctly and safely.
Unfortunately, sometimes medical professionals are negligent, and their negligence can be life-changing and can cause a significant amount of pain and suffering. Medical malpractice is the reckless and negligent treatment of a patient by physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, or other healthcare professionals.
Potential Cases/Examples of Negligent Medical Mistakes Involve:
o Wrong Diagnosis (Misdiagnosis): When a medical professional wrongfully diagnoses a serious condition, it could lead to the incorrect treatment or a missed opportunity for timely treatment. The correct treatment might have been able to prevent pain, suffering, serious harm, or death. The following can lead to a misdiagnosis:
· Failure to examine medical history;
· Failure to listen to the patient or recognize symptoms;
· Failure to interpret tests correctly;
· Failure to order the correct test; and
· Failure to follow protocol.
o Improper or Delayed Treatment: Sometimes medical professionals can be negligent by not providing timely treatment and if a patient is not treated within a reasonable amount of time, their state or condition can decrease or worsen. Far too delayed treatment can cost someone their life.
o Pharmaceutical Errors: Potentially dangerous results can occur when a drug is improperly administered, a patient is given too little or too much of a dose of a drug, or when the prescription is inaccurate. These medication errors harm millions in the United States each year and the responsibility is on the pharmacists, nurses, and doctors involved to ensure these errors are avoided.
o Surgical Errors: Going into surgery is a scary thing to undergo, especially when the patient is unconscious and cannot see what is being done to his/her body. During surgery, internal organs can be punctured, surgery can be performed on the wrong site, surgical instruments or sponges can be left inside the patient’s body. All of these are mishaps that can have a detrimental impact on the patient’s body.
o Postoperative Care Negligence: After undergoing a procedure, surgery, or treatment, adequate monitoring and subsequent care is expected and needed. Medical professionals are responsible for monitoring complications, vitals, and following instructions for postoperative care. The medical professionals are also required to give detailed instructions to the patients for how they are to properly partake in the healing process after they leave the hospital. If a medical professional fails to monitor, prescribe, or notice symptoms, the patient may suffer from pain or severe injuries or infections.
o Birth Injuries: Before, during, or after childbirth, injuries may arise that could have been prevented had the medical care provider met their duty of care.
Examples of birth injury claims involve:
o C-section injuries
o Improper use of vacuum extractors, forceps, or other devices
o Failure to monitor fetal heartbeat
o Cerebral palsy
o Lack of oxygen
o Compression of the umbilical cord or nuchal cord
o Collar bone injuries
o Shoulder dystocia/Erb’s palsy
o Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
o Improper use of labor-inducing drugs
o Infant brain damage
o Failure to identify complications
o Anesthesia Errors: There are four main categories of anesthesia used during surgery and other procedures:
Other Medical Providers May Be Liable
Hospital employees, such as nurses, can also be held responsible for negligence and the hospital itself may be held liable under the doctrine of Respondeat Superior. The hospital can be held responsible for an employee’s negligence if the employee is acting within the scope of their employment at the time the negligence occurred. To the plaintiff this liability is very important in a medical malpractice case because it ensures that the plaintiff can recover money damages from a responsible party.
Generally, the theory of recovery used in medical malpractice cases is negligence whereby the medical professional was negligent and violated the standard of care for the patient.
There are four elements to a negligence for a medical malpractice claim:
(1) the medical professional owed a duty of care;
(2) the medical professional violated that duty of care;
(3) the medical professional’s conduct was the actual cause of the injury; and
(4) the patient was injured in some way.
To show that the medical professional violated the standard of care owed to the patient, expert testimony is necessary. This means that other medical professionals (experts) come into court and explain what a medical professional would have or should have done if they were in that same situation. This helps to show the court how the medical professional in the patient’s case acted differently than how a reasonable medical professional in that profession and in that same situation would have or should have acted.
If you believe your case meets the elements stated above, you may be able to seek compensation for what you have been through.
Consent is very important, especially when it comes to patients and medical professionals. Informed consent generally means that the medical provider must inform the patient of the potential benefits, risks, and alternatives of any treatment, medical procedure, or surgery and must obtain the patients written consent to proceed. Issues can arise when consent is given to perform a certain medical operation or treatment, but the physician or nurse thereafter extends the operation or treatment beyond the boundaries of the consent given initially. Issues can also arise when the medical professional fails to adequately explain to the patient the risks involved with the treatment or procedure to which the patient consented or when a treatment or procedure is performed without the patient’s informed consent or authorization.
Other Theories of Recovery
In a small number of cases, doctors promise results and if the patient is not satisfied with the results promised, they may file a claim for violation of the contract or violation of the warranty. There may be a way to recover damages when the patient does not know what caused the injury, but since the medical professional was in control of the treatment, surgery or procedure, the burden is transferred to the medical professionals involved to show that they did not violate the standard of care.
What You Need to Know About Limitations:
A very commonly used term in the legal world is “statute of limitations.” The statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to bring your action. If the statute of limitations has expired, your case cannot be brought. This is why it is so important to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you believe you have a case or think something is wrong. If you call Nader Shunnarah, you can get a free consultation!
In Kentucky, the statute of limitations for bringing a Medical Malpractice claim is one year from the time of the negligent act or omission. The statute of limitations begins to run on the date that the injury was discovered or should have been discovered. So, once you discover the injury, it is very important to act on it in order to have the opportunity for compensation.
There are exceptions to the rule, for example, the one-year period may be extended if the negligence was not immediately discovered or if the person injured was a minor. It is essential that you contact Shunnarah Law within that time period, or you may be barred from filing your claim.
Indiana has a two-year statute of limitations for bringing any Medical Malpractice claims. However, there are also several important exceptions. For example, Indiana follows the time of discovery rule, which means the statute of limitations begins to run when the plaintiff knew, or in the exercise of ordinary diligence, could have discovered the injury that resulted from the medical professional’s negligence. There is also the minor rule, where the statute of limitations is longer for children. Lastly, there is the Governmental entity rule, which states if a “Governmental Entity” is involved, a claim must be filed within 180 days.
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