We rely on doctors, nurses, surgeons, and specialists to maintain and protect our health. As patients, we trust that these people are qualified by years of schooling and medical training, and that they will act appropriately and competently while performing their medical duties. Unfortunately, this is not always the reality of the situation. Doctors and other healthcare professionals routinely make devastating errors which result in serious injuries, avoidable illnesses, and in extreme cases, wrongful death.
If you were injured by a negligent or careless doctor, or if a loved one passed away after receiving substandard medical care, your family deserves a closer investigation into the matter. The medical malpractice lawyers of Di Pietro Partners, LLP have on staff a physician to review medical malpractice and wrongful death matters. To start exploring your legal options in a free and confidential case evaluation, call our law offices right away at (800) 712-8462.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Do I Have a Case?
Needless to say, it’s important for claimants to understand how medical malpractice is defined from a legal standpoint.
Malpractice does not mean having pain or a negative outcome following a procedure which was performed appropriately in accordance with all normal industry standards. While having a bad outcome can be an immensely upsetting and frustrating experience, it cannot legally be considered malpractice if the doctor (or other healthcare professional) did not actually make any errors or mistakes.
In order for an incident to be successfully deemed true malpractice, there are several elements which must be in place:
- There must be a formal patient-doctor relationship established between the plaintiff and the defendant. This creates a formal “duty of care” from the doctor to the patient. (Note that taking casual advice does not constitute a formal patient-doctor relationship.)
- The doctor must breach his or her duty of care to the patient by acting negligently. In a legal context, negligence means that the party at fault failed to live up to the normal standard of care that a reasonable person would expect under the same set of circumstances. In other words, if one doctor makes an avoidable error which any other reasonable doctor would have noticed and corrected – such as failing to sterilize tools, or to ask the patient about other medications they were taking – the doctor who made the error may be considered negligent.
- The doctor’s negligence must have caused an injury to the plaintiff.
- The plaintiff’s injury, caused by the negligent doctor, must have led to damages.
Depending on the specific details involved in a claim, a plaintiff may be able to recover compensation for damages such as hospital bills, lost income, and physical pain and suffering.
What Are Some Common Examples of
Doctor Negligence and Malpractice?
Malpractice can manifest in many different ways, depending on factors like the patient’s health and the type of doctor or procedure involved. The following is a non-exhaustive list of some relatively common forms of medical and hospital negligence:
- Failure to monitor a patient’s oxygen levels while he or she is sedated. If a sedated patient is not closely monitored by a qualified anesthetist or anesthesiologist and an error occurs, he or she can aspirate vomit and can suffer brain damage, coma, and death.
- Failure to notice and diagnose an apparent early-stage disease.
- Failure to count all tools used during a surgical procedure. When items are forgotten and are left behind inside of patients’ bodies, it is referred to as surgical object retention or a surgical error. Whether a forgotten object is a soft pad of gauze or a sharp pair of scissors, the end result can be blockage, organ damage, internal bleeding, or death.
- Practicing in a field for which the doctor is not actually licensed or qualified.
- Improperly sterilizing tools and equipment, including failure to wash hands and take other hygienic measures prior to an operation or examination.
- Incorrectly filling out a prescription, resulting in death or injury to the patient.
- Failing to obtain a patient’s medical history and information regarding food, drug, and alcohol use. This can lead to deadly drug interactions and avoidable complications which should have been foreseen.
- Permitting unnecessary and dangerous delays in treatment, such as waiting too long to address a known infection or illness.
- In pregnancy-related cases, causing a birth injury to the baby and/or mother, such as accidentally cutting the baby with a surgical tool during a C-Section delivery.
- Physically or sexually assaulting a patient, or otherwise engaging in sexual contact, abuse, or harassment.
If any of these issues have affected you or a loved one, you may be able to receive financial compensation for your suffering and your losses.
To arrange a free and private legal consultation, call the medical malpractice attorneys of Di Pietro Partners, LLP at (800) 712-8462 today.