Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes injury or death to a patient.
Medical malpractice is a significant healthcare problem that includes surgical errors, medication errors, birth injuries, misdiagnosis of cancer and other diseases, improper emergency room care and many other medical mistakes. Medical practitioners are responsible for hundreds of thousands of patients receiving improper care every year, causing a staggering number of deaths and injuries.
Physicians are not the only health care providers responsible for medical malpractice claims. Nurses, pharmacists, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and other caregivers and institutions are also subject to medical malpractice claims.
To be considered “medical malpractice” under the law, we must prove the following:
A violation of the standard of care – The law acknowledges that there are certain medical professional standards recognized as acceptable treatment under the same or similar circumstances. This level of care is known as the “standard of care.” A patient has the right to expect that health care professionals will deliver care that is consistent with these standards. Negligence may be established if it is determined the patient received sub-standard care.
An injury was caused by the negligence – It is not sufficient to establish that a doctor was negligent or violated the standard of care. The patient must also prove that a serious injury would not have occurred in the absence of negligence. A bad outcome alone cannot establish malpractice. The patient must prove that the doctor’s negligence caused the injury. If there is an injury without negligence or the injury was not caused by negligence, there is no case.
The injury resulted in significant damages – Medical malpractice lawsuits are extremely expensive to litigate. We must show that significant damages resulted from an injury caused by medical negligence. If the damages are small, the cost of pursuing the case might be greater than the eventual recovery. To pursue a medical malpractice claim, the patient must show that the injury resulted in disability, loss of income, unusual pain, suffering and hardship, or significant past and future medical bills.
Gold, Khourey & Turak has successfully helped clients throughout West Virginia and Ohio with their medical malpractice claims. If you think you have a case and want to protect yourself, contact us as soon as possible so we can help. It’s easy, it’s free, and it’s worth it.
Medical Malpractice Case Examples
- Failure to Diagnose or Misdiagnosis
- Delay in the Diagnosis of a Serious Disease or Illness
- Misreading or Ignoring Laboratory Results
- Misreading or Ignoring X-Ray, CR scan or MRI Results
- Birth Injuries
- Unnecessary Surgery
- Surgical Errors or Wrong Site Surgery
- Improper Medication or Dosage
- Poor Follow-Up or Aftercare
- Premature Discharge
- Disregarding or Not Taking Appropriate Patient History
- Failure to Order Proper Testing
- Failure to Recognize Symptoms
Medical Malpractice Frequently Asked Questions
What is “medical malpractice?”
Medical malpractice is used to describe the mistreatment, lack of treatment or deviation from the accepted standards of medical care by a health care provider, thus causing harm to a patient. Examples are a failure to treat, improper treatment, misdiagnosis, and prescription medication errors.
Do I have a case if I’m unhappy with the treatment I received?
Only if your medical provider (doctor, nurse, hospital, dentist or other) deviated from the accepted standard of care and caused serious injury or death. If so, you may have a claim against that individual or organization. But just because you experienced a bad result doesn’t mean your doctor is responsible.
How long do I have to file a medical malpractice case?
Statutes of limitations vary by state and course of action. In Ohio, claims against a health care provider must be filed within one year of the date the incident occurred. In West Virginia, you have two years from the date of injury, or from the date the injury should have been discovered, to file a claim. There are also special rules for minors. Contact an attorney as soon as possible after any suspected malpractice incident. Missing the statute of limitations deadline may limit your right to file a claim and recover damages.
Will my attorney tell me right away if medical malpractice has occurred?
Not necessarily. Your attorney can’t know everything about every medical procedure. During your initial call, you’ll be asked for details about your procedure and the resulting injuries. You may also need to meet with the attorney to discuss your claim. Your attorney will then conduct research to evaluate whether you have a malpractice claim. Sometimes an attorney can decide if you have a claim that same day. However, oftentimes a review of your medical records is needed. An attorney who has a medical background will be able to answer your questions with more knowledge than an attorney with limited experience.
How much will it cost to have an attorney represent me in a medical malpractice case?
At Gold, Khourey & Turak, we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that our fees are based on a pre-agreed percentage of the settlement or verdict we receive for your claim. In addition, we advance all the costs of handling your claim. So you pay us nothing until we resolve your case.
If I signed a consent form, have I waived my rights to pursue a claim?
No. Typical consent forms indicate that you have been informed of the complications that might arise from a given procedure or treatment. It does not give the health care provider the authority to commit malpractice, or relieve the provider from the duty of meeting the standard of care expected.
Who can be held accountable for medical malpractice? What must I show to pursue a case?
A medical malpractice claim can be brought against a person or company that provides medical or health care to a patient. This includes physicians, registered nurses, hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacists and even dentists. Claims may be brought against partners, individuals, corporations, and associations. Generally, the following must be proved to be successful:
- The health care provider owed a duty to the patient
- The health care provider breached that duty
- The patient suffered an injury as a result of the health care provider’s breach of duty
- If the breach of duty results in no harm to the patient, you generally have no right to recovery
Why do I need an expert to establish that medical malpractice resulted in my injury?
Your attorney should always prepare as if your case is going to trial. To win a medical malpractice case in court, you must prove that the standard of care was not followed. Courts recognize certain experts as having the experience, training, and understanding of medical procedures in order to testify about the level of care that was provided. Attorneys experienced in medical malpractice cases have access to medical professionals who are recognized as experts by the courts.
If my case is settled and I have problems down the road, can I reopen my case and pursue another claim?
In general, once a case has been settled, it cannot be reopened. As part of a settlement agreement, you’ll typically sign a release stating that you will not pursue a claim based on the same incident. That’s why it’s important to make as full of a recovery as possible before considering any settlement offer. Failure to do so may put you in financial trouble in the future.