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What You Need to Know About Medical Malpractice

 

Medical malpractice law enables patients to get compensated for any injuries they sustain as a result of sub-standard treatment. According to a report by the Medical Malpractice Center, between 15,000 and 19,000 medical negligence lawsuits are filed in the U.S. every year. While the regulations and standards for medical malpractice differ between states and countries, some underlying concepts are the same. Here is a brief coverage of the basic concepts of medical malpractice.

 

What is Medical Malpractice?

 

Medical malpractice is used interchangeably with medical negligence. A healthcare professional, doctor, or hospital is required to provide a particular standard of care. When a patient is harmed or injured because a health provider or institution deviated from the standard of care required in similar situations, this is a typical case of medical malpractice.

 

For medical malpractice to be considered, the following factors need to be satisfied:

 

  • Failure to provide the appropriate standard of care: Health care professionals are required to abide by certain standards or face liability for negligence.
  • An injury is caused by negligence: If a patient is not injured by a health care provider’s negligence, they have no room to make a claim. However, if the patient can prove that a health care provider’s negligence caused harm or injury and that if the practitioner was not negligent there would have been no harm or injury, the practitioner may be held liable for negligence.
  • The injury has damaging consequences: The patient needs to show that the harm or injury caused by a medical practitioner’s negligence resulted in significant damage. Some typical examples of significant damage include disability, constant pain, enduring hardship, suffering, and loss of income.

 

Examples of Medical Malpractice

 

Some examples of cases where negligence or an error can lead to a malpractice lawsuit include:

  • Incorrect or unnecessary surgery
  • Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis
  • Failure to order the right tests or to act on the results of a treatment
  • Wrong prescription
  • Discharging a patient prematurely
  • Leaving things in the patient’s body after surgery
  • A patient acquiring fatal infections while in hospital

 

The Procedures of a Medical Malpractice Case

 

A medical malpractice lawsuit involves two parties: the one making a claim (plaintiff), and the accused (defendant). The plaintiff is the patient unless they succumb to their injuries and die. The defendant is the doctor, nurse, surgeon, or health institution.

 

The first step in a medical malpractice case is filing a lawsuit. The plaintiff (patient) through a law firm in Oklahoma will file a lawsuit in court. The lawsuit will address issues such as the plaintiff’s complaint, and who the plaintiff holds responsible.

 

Before the trial begins, the court will allow the plaintiff and defendant some time to share information related to the case. This helps both sides prepare their cases without unexpected surprises during the trial. As a rule of thumb, if either side fails to share information at the discovery stage, such information cannot be used in the trial. The discovery stage involves depositions, interrogatories, and requests for documents.

 

After the discovery stage, the parties can agree on a settlement to avoid going to court. If a settlement does not work out, the case will go to trial.

During the trial, both sides will call upon experts to explain the standard of care that was required for the patient’s treatment. The judge or jury will listen to the arguments of both sides, and consider the evidence presented in court before arriving at a final judgment.

 

If the court rules in favor of the plaintiff, the judge will order for a set amount of damages to be paid to them. In some cases, if the plaintiff is unsatisfied by the settlement, they may make a claim for additur. This means asking the court to conduct an assessment of damages and award a higher amount. If the defendant is dissatisfied with the increment, they may make a claim for remittitur. This means asking the court to decrease the number of damages.

 

What Damages Are Awarded in Medical Malpractice Claims?

 

There are three types of damages that are recoverable in a medical negligence claim: general damages, special damages, and punitive damages.

 

General Damages

 

These damages are related to the patient’s cost of suffering. Although general damages are real, they don’t have a fixed price tag, hence the name non-economical damages. Typical examples of general damages are:

  • Pain and suffering (both physical and mental)
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of future earning capacity

 

Special Damages

 

These damages cover quantifiable expenses that arise from the act of medical malpractice. Special damages include past missed work and medical bills.

 

Punitive Damages

 

These damages are rare but may also be given to punish the doctor for intentional behavior. To qualify for punitive damages, the plaintiff must show that the doctor knew that they were behaving in a risky manner but proceeded anyway.

 

Caps on Damages

 

Many states place a limit on the maximum amount of damages that patients can recover for a medical malpractice claim. In some states, the cap is on the total damages. For example, a patient may not be able to recover damages worth more than $500,000. In other states, the cap is a specific type of damages. For example, some states may place a cap on general damages. In California, you cannot recover non-economic damages of more than $250,000 in a medical malpractice claim.

 

Some states go further and reduce the number of damages a doctor is required to pay the amount that an injured patient will receive from sources such as their insurance providers. In many states, there are statutes that also limit the amount of money an attorney can charge their patient for a medical malpractice case.

 

Damages Involving a Dead Patient

 

There are laws that determine the damages that can be recovered when a patient dies from medical malpractice. These laws are known as survival and wrongful death laws.

 

Survival Statutes

 

These laws allow the heirs or estate of a deceased patient to recover damages arising from the time a medical malpractice action was performed to the death of the patient. The compensation derived from survival statutes includes all the damages that the deceased would have received had they survived. In addition to these damages, the beneficiaries of the deceased are also entitled to damages associated with the future, like future earning capacity. Some survival laws also allow recovery for funeral expenses.

 

Wrongful Death Statutes

 

These statutes are meant to compensate the family of a deceased patient for their future financial loss. However, depending on the state, some family members cannot recover any future monetary damages. For example, the patient’s children and spouse may recover damages but not the patient’s parents.

If you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice, you need to find a law firm in Oklahoma that will represent your claims against the doctor, nurse, or health institution responsible for your injuries. Medical malpractice claims allow patients to recover damages for their harm and may also provide relief to a patient’s family if they are to die from their injuries. While proving and arguing a case of medical malpractice may not be easy, with the assistance of a well seasoned and experienced lawyer, you can beat the odds and get justice.

 

Basic Requirements for Medical Malpractice Claims

 

Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. This is an alarming statistic that says a lot about the medical profession at large.

Armed with the above fact, It is of utmost importance to keep the medical community honest and engaged in practicing safe medicine by holding them accountable for any negligence on their part. One way to do so is to file for malpractice suits.

 

The Ball is in Your Court When it Comes to Malpractice

 

If you reside in Oklahoma and feel that you or a loved one is the victim of medical negligence, you can file a medical malpractice suit within the state. There are certain procedures you will have to be aware of while filing so that the process will go smoother for you.

While it is always good to seek the assistance of a good Oklahoma medical malpractice lawyer when filing a malpractice claim, there are certain guidelines, that when followed, can help both you and your lawyer to successfully attain the compensation you are entitled to.

 

What is Medical-Malpractice?

 

Before discussing the basic requirements for filing, it is important to understand what constitutes medical negligence and how to ascertain if you are a victim of it, without which any legal action would be rendered useless.

A healthcare provider is said to be engaged in malpractice when they do not follow the proper guidelines while caring for their patients.

The medical community in the U.S. must follow certain “standards of care” when treating someone. If they fail to follow such standards, they are considered negligent and are guilty of malpractice.

While injuries occurring from not following set standards of medical care are always the fault of the healthcare practitioner, a negative outcome is not, however, always the result of malpractice.

There are certain procedures and treatments that always carry risks associated with them and if the medical practitioner has done their best to explain those risks to the patient, then they are not negligible should those risks manifest themselves under standard care procedures.

Medical mistakes which lead to malpractice are often caused by mental mistakes and not by the actual medical procedures themselves.

There are various reasons for healthcare providers to suffer from mental errors, but the fact remains that whatever the reason, mental mistakes should never go unnoticed.

If any injury was caused by a mental lapse or faulty medical procedure, then the patient has every right to seek legal justice.

 

Requirements for Malpractice Claims

 

Step 1: Always consult an attorney first. This should seem obvious as most people do not know the law as well as one who practices it.

Your malpractice attorney will help you file your claim on time. Since malpractice cases must be filed before the state’s statute of limitations runs out, your attorney can tell you how long you have to file.

The statute of limitations for malpractice varies from state to state, but if you would like to find out what the statute of limitations is for Oklahoma, you can ask Steven E. Clark, an Oklahoma medical malpractice lawyer at www.clarkmitchell.com.

An attorney who specializes in malpractice cases can also help you with any further requirements your state may have for filing. Some of these requirements include, but are not limited to: notices of intent, medical and expert affidavits, and review board hearings.

Depending on the state you file from, failure to meet such requirements can lead to the dismissal of your case, which is why you should always find a lawyer in your state that is an expert in handling malpractice suits. Going at it alone may ultimately result in your case never going to trial.

 

Step 2: Contact your insurance company and the hospital from where you received your injury. Notifying them of your malpractice suit can sometimes activate coverage and reviews, and even procure settlements out of court.

Having an attorney help you with claims adjusters is critical, as she can often negotiate an acceptable pre-trial settlement and save you and everyone else involved both time and money.

What is more, an expert malpractice lawyer can prevent professional claim representatives from taking you lightly and bullying you into unacceptable compensation.

 

Step 3: Get your medical records ready. The minute you and your lawyer feel that you may have a valid malpractice case, contact your hospital and ask for your medical records.

In most malpractice cases, medical records are often the best source of evidence to prove medical negligence. Your hospital must grant you access to your complete medical history and you must sign a release stating that your attorney and the defendants’ attorneys may have access to them as well.

Armed with your medical records, your attorney can ascertain if you have reasonable chance of success. If so, she can then gather expert witnesses according to the findings within your records and begin the filing procedures with earnest.

If after reviewing your medical records your attorney feels that your case is not worthy of a malpractice suit, they will notify you and dismiss the filing process altogether. While this may not be the desired outcome, it will save you a ton of money in the long run.

 

Step 4: Follow all of the pre-suit standards of the state. Many states require sworn statements from medical experts that define the normal standards of care for a malpractice case. These standards and requirements must be met before you can even begin filing.

Pre-suit requirements are meant to inspire pre-trial settlements and dissuade superficial malpractice cases from going to trial. This helps to reduce the number of malpractice suits resulting in a more efficient litigation system.

If you fail to file any pre-suit requirements in Oklahoma, your malpractice case may get dismissed, therefore be sure to find a good Oklahoma medical malpractice lawyer that can guide you in fulfilling all the requirements outlined by the Oklahoma court system for malpractice suits.

 

Step 5: File a complaint. Your complaint will outline your reasons for filing and list the defending hospital and/or doctors who you have accused of medical negligence. It is the final step in the filing process and the beginning of the actual malpractice lawsuit.

As with all the other filing steps, registering a complaint can be complicated, which is why you want to elicit the service a professional attorney specialized in such cases. Failure to do so may lead to either dismissal, unfair settlement, or reduced compensation.

 

Oklahoma Medical-Malpractice Laws

 

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of medical negligence while residing in Oklahoma, you are entitled to filing for a malpractice case and can be awarded compensation under the state’s malpractice law.

Before you begin the filing process, you should know of several key requirements needed by the Oklahoma court system. These include the state’s statute of limitations and calculation and distribution of compensation.

 

Oklahoma Statute of Limitations for Malpractice Lawsuits

 

If you have been injured by medical malpractice in Oklahoma you have two years from the time of injury to file your claim. If, however, the date of actual injury cannot be determined then it the time period begins when you first felt there was a problem.

 

Damage Limits

 

The normal cap for malpractice cases in Oklahoma is $350,000. However, if the judge feels that the defendant was extremely negligent, fraudulent, reckless, or acted out in malice, the damages can be much higher.

 

Medical Affidavit

 

In the state of Oklahoma, you must attach an affidavit to your complaint when you file. The affidavit must state that a medical expert has looked over your case and believes that your healthcare provider acted out in negligence and caused your injury.

While the above requirements by no means represent all of the standards which must be met under Oklahoma malpractice law, they do give you a brief outline of what you must do when filing a malpractice lawsuit within the state.

If you would like to learn more about filing a malpractice claim in Oklahoma, please contact the law offices of Clark & Mitchell, situated in Oklahoma City.

 

Claims Involving Defective Medical Devices

 

The advancement of technology in the medical field has resulted in many people to depend on medical devices to better their health. In the federal law, medical devices are defined as devices used by medical practitioners to treat disease, injuries, or disabilities. These medical devices encompass

 

  • Contraceptive devices such as IUD
  • Stents: Usually drug-coated tubes inserted into an artery to prevent blockage
  • Defibrillators: tiny electronic devices that are implanted in the patient’s heart to maintain a normal heart rate (pacemakers)
  • Implants: synthetic devices implanted in a patient’s impaired body part such as a hip or shoulder to restore their function

The US Food and Drug Administration oversees all the medical devices that hit the market and make the public aware of any defects with the products. The FDA uses the premarket notification process or the 501 (k) clearance process, which ensures that manufacturers of medical devices seek approval for new products by stating their substantial equivalent. Despite the strict regulations put in place by the FDA, Federal and State Laws, many people still end up suffering injuries by defects in the products. Should a defective medical device injure you, the constitution allows you to file a lawsuit against both the manufacturer and the medical provider.

 

Types of Defective Product Claims Involving Medical Devices

 

Under the strict product liability claims, medical devices just like any other products must be free from any medical defects. Defective product liability in Oklahoma claims fall under three major categories and liability claims should be based on one of them.

 

Design Defect: Defectively designed medical devices are those that are properly manufactured but have unreasonable designs likely to cause injury. Sometimes, medical devices may have been in the market for a long time but due to mishandling and breakdowns, the device causes injury to the patient. In some case, the victim may claim that the manufacturer was aware of the defect, but out of negligence deliberately concealed it or delayed taking the product off the market.

 

Manufacturing Defect: These are defects occurring from improperly manufacturing processes. Defectively manufactured devices arise from errors of omission at the manufacturing facility, during shipping or in the hospital or doctor’s office. If the defect occurs anywhere between the factory and the place where you received the device, the liability falls on the manufacturer. Any member of the chain of distribution (manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer) may be held liable for the defect. The law imposes liability on each party that reaps the rewards from the sale of a dangerously defective product.

 

Marketing Defects: Marketing defects in medical devices are considered to involve any recommendations, warnings or instructions regarding the use of the specific device by a potential defendant. The manufacturer has a legal liability to warn patients of foreseeable and non-obvious dangers likely to occur from the use of the device. Additionally, manufacturers should provide adequate information regarding the appropriate use of the device, failure to which they are liable. The manufacturer, doctor, hospital or sales representatives may provide wrong marketing information, hence are all held liable should an injury occur.

 

Proof of Claim

 

Defective product liability in Oklahoma is based on the ruling of Kirkland v. General Motors Corp. 1, 1974 where the plaintiff must prove three major claims.

 

  1. That the defective device was the cause of the injury and a mere possibility that it might have caused the injury is not enough
  2. That the defect existed in the product if the action was against the manufacturer at the time the product left the manufacturer’s control and possession. If the action is against the retailer (in this case the medic), the plaintiff must be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the product was defective at the point of use or consumption at the time it left the retailer’s possession or control.
  3. That the defect caused unreasonable danger (under Section 36) to him

When medical devices are manufactured or marketed defectively, there could be another person who has already sustained similar injuries. It is thus important to seek help from a personal injury attorney to see if there is a class action lawsuit already initiated with similar injuries.

 

Potential Defendants Defective Product Claims Involving Medical Devices

 

When filing a lawsuit for involving defective medical devices, it is important to include all potential defendants in your claim. A personal injury Attorney in OKC should be able to help you identify every person or entity involved in the chain of distribution of the defective medical devices. The following forms of people or entities that might be liable for the defective device

 

Manufacturer: Mostly entities involved with the technical development of the new medical device that caused harm to the defendant.

 

Testing Laboratories: Any laboratories involved in the testing of medical devices, especially if they are independent of the manufacturer.

 

Medical sales representatives: Manufacturers use sales representatives as the link between them and members of the medical community to introduce and make recommendations regarding potential applications. The sales representatives may be held liable for the device that caused injury.

 

Doctor: The medical practitioner who recommended the medical device may be held liable for failing to inform the defendant of the potential risk and damages or provide adequate instructions on the use of the medical device.

 

Retailer: Though the majority of the medical devices are delivered to patients through hospitals, those obtained from pharmacies and drug stores hold the retailer or hospital liable in the event they cause harm to the patient.

 

Recoverable Damages

 

If you suffer injury from a defective medical device, your personal injury Attorney in OKC will help you file a lawsuit against the manufacturer or the medical practitioner. However, you must ensure to keep the device in the same condition it was at the time of inflicting the injury. If the device is lost or tampered with, it becomes difficult to prove claim resulting in a dismissal of the lawsuit. If you are successful with the lawsuit, the court can award you punitive or compensatory damages.

 

Punitive damages

 

The award of punitive damages by Oklahoma courts is usually based on the case of Thiry v. Armstrong World Industries, where the Supreme Court held that plaintiffs could claim exemplary or punitive damages as an element of damage in a product liability action. The aim of punitive damages is to punish the defendants where they acted wrongfully and deter others from acting in a similar manner.

 

Compensatory damages

 

Oklahoma courts have always followed the general tort principle in which, if a defendant suffers injury from the wrongful act or omission of another is entitled to fair and just compensation equivalent to the loss sustained. Compensatory damages are aimed at restoring the defendant back to the position he/she was before the injury occurred. Compensatory damages do this by attaching a monetary value to the economic and noneconomic losses suffered by the defendant.

 

Assessing the various types of damages, which one is entitled to, requires considerable legal expertise. Depending on your case, you require an experienced product liability attorney on OKC, who will help you in gathering the facts to file a successful lawsuit.

Medical Malpractice Cases and How They Work

 

What is medical malpractice? Malpractice occurs when a medical caregiver deviates from the professional norms in treating or diagnosing a patient. This means that the medical professional does something other than what another professional would do in the same situation.

This can include things like refusal to treat a condition, misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose, problems during labor and delivery, a botched procedure, issues with prescriptions, etc. Sometimes these issues are caused by negligence or are a mistake, or in extreme cases, they can be due to malice or an intent to harm a patient.

 

What should you do if you think you’ve been a victim of malpractice?

 

If you are a resident of the state of Oklahoma, your first step should be to consult with an Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney. A personal injury attorney can examine the details of your case and get a good estimate of whether you should seek damages or not. From there, they can begin the process of filing the claim.

There are some helpful first steps you can follow to facilitate the process. First of all, you should try speaking with the medical professional themselves. They may be able to answer questions such as how the injury occurred, what their thought process behind the procedure that caused it, and in some cases, they can facilitate contact between you and their malpractice insurance provider.

The next step is to speak with the provider of the medical professional’s insurance. All medical practitioners are required to carry malpractice insurance, as mistakes can happen to anyone. Sometimes the insurance is purchased by them, other times it is provided by the institution (such as a hospital or medical center) that they are employed by. If the practitioner cannot give you their insurance information, you can go to the heads of the institution to find out who to contact. You should always notify your personal injury attorney of any such contact, try to have them be involved in the conversation, and always consult with them before signing any paperwork or accepting any settlements. It is the job of the insurance company to pay out as little money as possible to keep you from filing a suit. Sometimes they will offer a fair amount when compared to the time, cost, and insecurity of going to trial, but this isn’t always the case. Your attorney can weigh the offered settlement versus what you can expect from a trial and advise you on which option would be best for you.

If you can’t get anywhere with the insurance company, you can contact your state’s licensing board that governs the medical license of the professional who committed the malpractice. These boards not only give out medical licenses, but they govern the field, with the ability to dole out punishments for professional misbehavior, such as limits on the practitioner’s ability to perform their occupation, fines, suspension and even removal of their license. No medical professional is allowed to practice without a license.

The licensing board can, therefore, put pressure on the medical profession and insurance company to settle the matter quickly and quietly to avoid punishment by the board. If the malpractice is particularly egregious, they will administer punishment regardless of compensation to the victim.

If none of these avenues provide compensation or relief for your injuries, then you will have to file a civil suit. If you haven’t done so already, hire an Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney. Your attorney can get your suit filed and take care of every detail of the paperwork, secure professional witnesses, and make sure you get the best outcome possible for your case.

 

Time is of the essence!

 

Every civil matter has a statute of limitations that governs how long a plaintiff has to file a case. In most cases, the clock begins on the date the injury occurred. In some cases, the statute can be pushed up to the date that the injury was noticed, if it took time to become apparent, but this is rare and at the discretion of the judge.

The statute of limitations varies from state to state. In Oklahoma, you have two years to file a suit, or seven years if the injured party is a minor under the age of twelve. It is definitely not in your best interest to wait on filing suit, as time runs out quickly.

 

Limits on compensation

 

Each jurisdiction or state has its own limits on how much a plaintiff can be awarded in a medical malpractice case. Limits are separated into economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are those incurred through medical costs, loss of income, legal fees, and anything that costs the injured party money stemming from the injury itself, including future medical treatment. The plaintiff has a right to compensation for any money they have spent or lost because of the injury. In Oklahoma, there is no cap on a number of economic damages they can receive.

Non-economic damages are those awarded by the judge based on pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and punitive damages against the practitioner. If the judge feels the practitioner acted out of malice or intended to cause harm, they may award punitive damages to the plaintiff. In the state of Oklahoma, non-economic damages are limited to $350,000.

 

Payment of damages

 

There are several different ways that damages won in a malpractice suit can be paid out. In most states, it is at the discretion of the judge, although there are some guidelines. If it is mostly economic damages, and the plaintiff has already lost or paid out the money, they may be awarded a lump sum disbursement, which means the payee, usually, the insurance company, has to pay all of the damages up front, at once. Non-economic damages can sometimes be awarded in smaller disbursements over time. In the case of minors, payments are usually paid in small increments at a time until they become adults when they will get what’s left all at once.

 

Have you been injured?

 

If you’ve been injured at the hands of a medical professional, contact an Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney today, before you take any further steps. An attorney can advise you on whether or not you could have a case, the best way to proceed, and make sure you get fair compensation for your injury. They can advise whether to settle out of court, whether the offer from the other party is reasonable, and what you can expect from taking it to court.

Medical Malpractice: Common Fault Committed by the Hospitals and Doctors

 

Although doctors take the Hippocratic Oath that includes them bringing no harm to their patients, cases of medical malpractice continue to crop up from every corner. Thousands of people suffer from serious injuries with others dying in the hands of their trusted medical specialists due to negligence on the doctors and medical professionals part.

 

OKC Medical Malpractice Attorney

Clack & Mitchell is a law firm that specializes in fighting such cases for its clients in Oklahoma. They are devoted to ensuring that their clients get the justice they deserve from such rogue doctors. Once they receive your case, they will let you know if they can take it and what your chances of winning are. What is more, they offer free initial consultation to potential clients. If you are in Oklahoma and looking for an OKC Medical Malpractice Attorney, this is the place to start.

 

What is Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence is usually committed when a medical doctor doesn’t meet the set professional standards of their field. It is categorized as negligence, which falls under tort law. This rule is based on the assumption that doctors owe patients the duty of care and are required to observe that duty. Also, they should be held liable for any injuries that result from behaviors that go against it, which is a breach of the duty of care. For you to win such a case, a lawyer has to prove that you sustained injuries due to substandard medical care. This involves the following:

 

  • Determining Harm- A patient is supposed to determine if he/she sustained injuries as a result of substandard medical care. Normally, doctors are not required by law to let their patients know they have sustained injuries through a treatment that was under industrial standards. This means the lawyer has to make the determination for the patient.
  • The Statute of Limitations- Filing a medical negligence case has to be done within a set period from when the incident happened. This period is also known as the statute of limitations and is determined by the state laws where the incident took place. When this period lapses, victims usually relinquish their rights to filing a claim.
  • Proving Negligence- The plaintiff has the task of showing that the doctor did not provide the required medical care in line with work standards. Also, the plaintiff has to prove that it was this negligence that led to the sustained injuries.
  • Establishing a Patient-Physician Relationship- The plaintiff has to prove without reasonable doubt that he/she was getting medical care from the defendant.
  • Establishing Damages- This is usually the last step in a tort lawsuit and it involves figuring out how much monetary compensation the plaintiff is supposed to get.

 

Types of Medical Negligence Cases

 

Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis

These are usually some of the most common medical negligence lawsuits. The fact that a doctor misdiagnosed a patient or even failed to detect a serious illness could mean that they fail to administer the proper treatment within the required time. This could lead to more serious health issues or even death.

For you to prove medical negligence that is based on delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis, you have to make a comparison of what the treating doctor did or didn’t do with how a competent specialist with the same specialty would have dealt with the case. If the skilled doctor would not have made the same mistake, the treating doctor should be held accountable as he or she is liable for medical negligence.

 

Childbirth Injuries

There are a number of fatal injuries that can occur due to negligence like brain damage, erb’s and klumpke’s palsy, and fractured bones. It should, however, be noted that the same injuries can be caused by other factors rather than medical negligence. An obstetrician’s negligence can occur either during childbirth or even before then.

Negligent Prenatal Care- Negligent medical care during pregnancy could bring harm to a fetus, mother, or both. Some of these include:

  • Failure to detect ectopic pregnancies
  • Failing to detect any birth defects
  • Inability to diagnose a medical condition like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and hypoglycemia with the mother
  • Inability to diagnose a contagious disease that can affect the fetus like neonatal lupus

Negligence at Childbirth- A medical worker’s negligence at childbirth could lead to injuries to the baby or even harm the mother. Below are such medical mistakes:

  • Failing to act upon signs of fetal distress
  • Unskilled use of vacuum extractor or forceps
  • Failing to prepare for birth complications due to an entangled umbilical cord or the baby’s big size
  • Failing to order for a cesarean when it is clear that it is appropriate

 

Medication Errors

Medication errors harm thousands of people annually. They can occur in different ways; from the first drug prescription to its administration. The most common mistakes include patients getting overdosed or underdosed. This can happen in these ways:

  • The doctor writing the wrong dosage on the prescription
  • Malfunction of the equipment meant to administer the drug, which could lead to an overdose
  • The doctor writes the correct prescription but the nurse administers the wrong dose

 

Anesthesia Errors

These tend to be more dangerous than surgical errors. Even the tiniest mistake by the anesthesiologist can lead to permanent brain damage or even death. An anesthesiologist can make it a medical negligence way before administering the anesthesia by:

  • Failing to inquire about the patient’s medical history to know the possible complications
  • Failing to let the patient know the risks associated if preoperative rules are not followed

 

Errors that can occur at the operating table include:

  • Giving the patient too much anesthesia
  • Failing to keep an eye on the patient’s vitals
  • Improperly putting the breathing tube in the trachea to aid with breathing
  • Use of malfunctioned equipment

 

Surgery Mistakes

Some medical negligence acts result from errors that happen in the operating theater. It could be that a surgeon became negligent as the operation was taking place. Or, the nurses might fail to give post-operative care.

 

When to Sue a Hospital for Malpractice

Mostly, hospitals are held liable for incompetent care given by their employees. However, they are not held responsible for an individual doctor’s medical negligence.

 

Below are cases where a hospital might or might not be liable for the medical negligence of the employees.

 

Hospitals Are Liable for Employee Actions

If a doctor is an employee of a certain hospital, the hospital will definitely be held accountable when the latter ends up hurting a patient incompetently. This means that if the employee displays negligence, the hospital will be required to answer for injuries caused to the patient.

Hospital employees include medical technicians, nurses, and all the support staff. The fact that the employee was doing a job-related action when he inflicted the injury is sufficient grounds for the patient to sue the hospital for the damages caused.

On the other hand, if a doctor happens to make a mistake and causes harm to a patient while working at the hospital, the medical facility will not be held responsible. This is unless the doctor happens to be an employee.

Also, when an employee commits negligence while working under the doctor’s instructions, the patient can go ahead and sue the medical expert. The hospital will not be held liable in such a case. An employee being under the doctor’s supervision when the negligence happens depends on:

 

  • Whether the doctor was around
  • Whether the doctor had control to stop the employee’s negligence

 

A good example where a surgeon might be held liable is when the attending nurse miscounts the number of surgical sponges. This could lead to the surgeon leaving a sponge in the patient’s body.

 

Is the Doctor an Employee of the Hospital?

 

This is a tricky question when deciding whether you need to sue the hospital when an act of medical negligence has been committed and resulted in injuries to patients.

To determine whether a doctor is an employee of the hospital, you will need to know about the relationship between the medical expert and the health facility. Although some doctors are hospital employees, most are not. Doctors who are not employees are usually known as independent contractors by the law, meaning that the hospital will not be held liable for their negligence. It doesn’t matter if the negligence occurred at the hospital, or whether the doctor is officially associated with the institution. A doctor is in an employee’s position if:

  • The hospital has full control of his working hours and vacation breaks
  • The hospital dictates what the doctor should charge

 

Exceptions: When Hospitals Are Liable for Non- Employee Doctor’s Actions

 

Even if it is not common for a hospital to be held liable for independent contractor’s negligence, it can still be deemed responsible in some situations.

 

Hospital Appeared to be the Doctor’s Employer

 

If the hospital fails to clarify to a patient that the doctor is not their employee, the patient can go ahead and sue the institution for the medical expert’s error. This is why most hospitals make sure they inform their patients that doctors are not their employees in admission forms. Their primary aim is to avoid possible, future liability.

However, the situation changes when the patient gets harmed in the emergency room. Hospitals don’t get the chance to inform patients in such instances. This leads to ER patients sue doctors for negligence. In some states, a hospital can still be sued for ER negligence regardless of what the patient was told.