Medical malpractice is a term that refers to many mistakes a healthcare provider may make that results in injury to their patients. It can happen in any healthcare setting, and patients can be left with costly medical bills, emotional distress, and severe injuries. Although medical malpractice can happen in many situations, there are some that happen more commonly than others. Anyone who is injured due to the negligence of a medical professional may be able to seek both compensation and justice through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider causes injury to one of their patients by acting negligently. For an incident to be considered malpractice in terms of the law, the following conditions must be met:
- The standard of care was violated: The standard of care is the set of medical standards that are considered acceptable by medical professionals and the industry at large. Doctors are expected to provide patients with care that other reasonable medical professionals would provide in a similar setting. A doctor may be considered negligent if they fail to meet these standards or to act in a reasonable, timely manner.
- The negligence caused an injury: A doctor violating the standard of care is not enough for a claim of medical malpractice to be validated by law. The patient is also responsible for proving the negligence they endured resulted in an injury they could not have received otherwise. A patient’s case will be unsuccessful if they cannot prove the negligence caused their injury.
- The injury caused damages: A patient must prove that the injury they suffered resulted in significant damages for an expensive medical malpractice lawsuit to be worthwhile. If someone experiences medical malpractice but the damages are small, pursuing a lawsuit might not be worth their time.
Common Medical Malpractice Claims
Malpractice can occur at nearly any stage of the healthcare process. However, certain healthcare situations are more prone to malpractice due to their complicated or severe nature. Some of the most common types of malpractice claims are as follows:
Many people who are misdiagnosed may be eligible to seek compensation through a malpractice lawsuit. If a doctor diagnoses someone with the wrong illness or medical issue, it prevents that person from receiving accurate and timely medical care for the actual issue they’re experiencing. An accurate diagnosis provides a patient with the opportunity to receive treatment that could prevent harm. Alternatively, a misdiagnosis could cause harm by leading doctors to prescribe unnecessary medications. Note that a misdiagnosis only counts as malpractice if it results in an injury.
A delayed diagnosis can be just as harmful to a patient as a misdiagnosis. A delay in receiving an accurate diagnosis gives the existing illness time to worsen and, in some cases, become irreversible or terminal. For a delayed diagnosis to be considered malpractice, the patient must prove their doctor assessed them less competently than a different, reasonable doctor would have done in the same situation. For example, a doctor misreading an MRI scan and failing to diagnose cancer early on could lead to a successful medical malpractice lawsuit.
Injuries in Childbirth
Childbirth is a complicated process that requires a lot of precision and attention from healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, childbirth is one of the most common procedures in which malpractice can occur. This is true in part because there are two parties being worked on, those parties being the mother and the child. Birth injuries to the infant can be severe, such as brain damage, broken bones, and paralysis.
Some such injuries can arise at any point during a woman’s pregnancy. For example, a doctor could be considered negligent if they fail to diagnose a condition during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes. This is also true if they fail to identify a birth defect that any other reasonable doctor in their position would have identified. These situations can result in injury to the mother and child later on. Injuries that take place during birth can happen because a doctor fails to administer an emergency c-section or uses forceps improperly. Any birth injury that occurs due to a doctor’s negligence may be worth pursuing a malpractice lawsuit over.
Many American citizens rely on daily medications to live comfortable, productive lives. Prescription medications are prescribed on an incredibly frequent basis and are therefore prone to being the source of healthcare-related injuries caused by doctor negligence. Medication-related mistakes can occur at any step in the prescribing process. For example, a doctor may make a mistake when sending a prescription to a pharmacy, such as ordering the wrong medication or providing the wrong instructions. A doctor might also prescribe a patient multiple medications that react negatively.
Pharmacies can also be responsible for providing a patient with the wrong medication or failing to disclose important information about the medication to a patient. Doctors are also responsible for monitoring and managing a patient who is on certain medications. If they fail to do so and the patient has a negative reaction, the doctor may be held liable in court.
Patients entrust doctors with their bodies and overall well-being when they undergo surgical procedures. However, there are many complications that can arise during a surgery, and a patient can claim medical malpractice if a doctor doesn’t handle them appropriately. Some examples of surgery-related errors include operating on the incorrect body part, puncturing an essential artery, and leaving equipment within the body. Potential errors also extend into post-operative care, such as failing to clean major incisions, giving them the wrong medication, or failing to inform them of best practices to care for themselves after being discharged.
Seeking Justice in Medical Malpractice Cases
Anyone who is a victim of medical malpractice can seek justice for themselves through a lawsuit. A successful lawsuit will result in the injured receiving compensation for their damages and, in certain cases, a doctor may lose their ability to practice medicine or have their license restricted. Compensation comes in 2 forms for these cases: compensatory and punitive. Punitive damages are meant to act as a punishment to the defendant in a malpractice case, and they are awarded in particularly severe cases. Compensatory damages are designed to pay the plaintiff in a malpractice case for what they endured, and are broken down further into the following:
- Economic damages: Economic damages are verifiable financial losses that the plaintiff incurred as a result of the malpractice they suffered. Examples include medical bills, the cost of medical equipment needed for daily life, the cost of rehabilitation, transport to and from medical appointments, and more.
- Non-economic damages: Non-economic damages are paid to the plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit to compensate them for damages that do not have an objective monetary value. Examples include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment, and diminished quality of life.
The state of Florida imposes a 2-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice lawsuits. This means that a claim must be made within 2 years of the date the injury occurred or would have been reasonably discovered. Claims filed after this period might not be heard by the courts.
We Will Fight for You
If you have suffered medical malpractice and need legal representation, contact Rash Mueller today. Our goal is to uphold the rights you have as a patient and help you seek the maximum compensation available to you. We understand the serious nature of medical malpractice cases, which is why we will review your case extensively to provide you with personalized and empathetic counsel. With over 40 years of collective experience, our law firm can handle any case, big or small. Contact us at (954) 914-7116 or online for a free consultation.