Doctors are supposed to provide their patients with quality care to help them resolve medical ailments. When a doctor is negligent in their treatment, it could result in injuries that the patient would not have sustained otherwise. In some cases, these injuries are severe, leaving patients with permanent damage to their brains. What options do these patients have, and how can they pursue them?
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice happens when a healthcare provider causes injury to a patient through negligent actions or failure to act when necessary. For a claim to be considered medical malpractice in court, the following 3 criteria must be met:
- The standard of care was violated: When treating a patient, a doctor must meet the same standard of care, i.e. be reasonably careful, that any other similarly trained doctor would reasonably have provided in the same situation.
- The violation caused the injury: In breaching the standard of care expected of them, the doctor caused injury to the patient. The injury must not have been possible if the doctor had not behaved negligently.
- The injury caused damages: The patient must prove that their injury resulted in major damages, such as significant medical bills, pain, suffering, diminished quality of life or death.
Malpractice that Could Result in Brain Injuries
There are endless reasons for seeing a doctor, which means there are almost as many opportunities for malpractice. However, the number of malpractice incidents that can lead to brain damage are fewer, including:
- Infection as a result of surgery
- Prescribing the wrong medication
- Overmedicating a patient
- Surgical error, such as excessive bleeding
- Improper intubation
- Failure to diagnose or treat pulmonary embolisms
- Anesthesia error
- Failure to treat a patient experiencing respiratory problems in a timely manner
- Certain birth injuries, such as brachial palsy or forceps injuries
- Failure to treat or diagnose strokes, heart attacks, and aneurysms
Brain Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice
Any brain injury that occurs due to a doctor’s negligent behavior is considered an acquired brain injury, or an ABI. An ABI is not genetic or degenerative. There are two types of ABI (traumatic and nontraumatic), and each has its own list of symptoms and lifelong impacts.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
A traumatic brain injury is any injury caused by something external, such as shaking, being hit in the head with a blunt object, or being stabbed in the head with a foreign object. An example of a traumatic brain injury that would occur due to medical malpractice would be one caused by forceps used during birth. If a doctor misuses forceps, they could make contact with the child’s brain and cause damage. Specifically, concussions are considered traumatic brain injuries.
Nontraumatic Brain Injuries
Nontraumatic brain injuries are caused by issues within the body, such as a lack of oxygen or an infection. For example, a decrease in oxygen to the brain due to blood loss during surgery could cause permanent damage, and that damage would be classified as a nontraumatic brain injury. The severity of the injury depends on how long the brain lacked sufficient oxygen. If a doctor fails to diagnose a blood clot or tumor that another reasonable doctor would have discovered, they may have committed malpractice.
How Brain Injuries Impact Patients
Some examples of the way brain injuries can impact patients include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty speaking or forming words
- Changes in physical coordination, such as decreased mobility
- Weakness of the arms and legs
- Loss of reasoning
- Changes in vision and hearing
- New behavioral issues
- Mental health issues, such as depression
Many people who suffer from brain injuries require ongoing care for the duration of their lives. Severe brain injuries can even lead to long-term comas or death. Anyone who has sustained a brain injury due to medical malpractice or lost a family member for the same reason should consider their options, as compensation may be available to help cover medical expenses.
Seeking Justice for Brain Injury Patients
Florida Statute 95.11 may allow people to make claims for malpractice issues up to 4 years from the date the incident giving rise to the claim occurred. If the malpractice is not discovered until later, the patient or family may have up to 4 years from the date of incident giving rise to the claim of malpractice, or 7 years from the date of incident giving rise to the claim of malpractice if fraud, concealment or intentional misrepresentation of facts is proven as to why it was not discovered sooner.
Victims of medical malpractice can sue for a number of different damages, the value of which will depend on the specifics of their case. Damages may include:
- Diminished quality or enjoyment of life
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental distress caused by the injury
- Loss of earning ability
- Medical bills
- Cost of physical therapy
- Cost of medical equipment needed because of the injury
Reach Out for Help
If you or a loved one suffered a brain injury due to medical malpractice, contact Rash Mueller today. We have extensive experience working with victims of malpractice, and our team can help you fight for fair compensation and justice. We understand that brain injuries are life-altering, which is why we provide our clients with compassionate legal counsel they can trust.
Contact us online or at (954) 914-7116 for a free, no-obligation consultation today.