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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 examples 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 a free initial consultation to potential clients. If you are in Oklahoma and looking for an Oklahoma City (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.
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 during 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 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
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
Some medical negligence acts result from errors 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.