Medical Malpractice Attorneys
When patients suffer severe injuries or are killed due to the actions of a doctor, nurse, or other health care staff member in a hospital, rehab, or nursing home facility, medical malpractice may have occurred. Every year, patients become the victims of medical malpractice. According to a study by Johns Hopkins University analyzing medical death rates over an eight-year period, more than 250,000 patients across the country are killed by medical errors each year. Philadelphia has seen its fair share of health care failures, including multiple hospital closures across the city due to poor performance and substandard patient care. Currently, medical malpractice is the third-leading cause of death in America.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, or other health care staff member in a hospital, rehab, or nursing home facility causes an injury or death to a patient due to negligent actions or omissions. A variety of errors that directly inflict injury or further worsen a patient’s condition can rise to the level of negligence. Medical errors could include any of the following:
- Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis
- Premature discharge
- Failure to order proper testing
- Failure to recognize symptoms
- Misreading or ignoring diagnostic testing results
- Unnecessary surgery
- Surgical error
- Wrong site surgery
- Improper follow-up or aftercare
- Medication errors
These examples represent just some of the potentially negligent provider and/or facility actions that can inflict serious harm, worsen one’s existing medical condition, or kill a patient. Under Philadelphia law, the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim is two years from date the patient has or reasonably should have discovered the injury. In order for a claim to qualify for litigation, the negligent actions that caused harm to a patient must meet certain legal requirements.
Elements of a Medical Malpractice Case
Negligent medical errors unfortunately occur daily, and while they can cause a patient to suffer, negligence alone is insufficient to give rise to a successful claim. In order for a medical malpractice case to be valid, under law the claim must meet the following criteria:
- Duty of Care refers to the legal responsibility a medical provider owes to a patient to provide adequate care.
- Breach of the Standard of Care: Across the health care industry, health care professionals must adhere to medical standards. The standard of care addresses patients’ rights to receive quality care for their illness or injury. Failure to act in according with the applicable standard of care could not only result in a patient injury or worsening the patient’s condition, but it also establishes provider negligence.
- Causation establishes a link from the negligent actions of the defendant and the injuries sustained by the patient. In order to do so, the plaintiff must be able to prove the injury would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligence and that it was a foreseeable consequence of the negligent or wrongful act.
- Injury occurs when the negligent and wrongful acts of the defendant result in significant physical harm. The injury must align with and meet the previous three elements.
Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can manifest in many ways, as common the errors lead to preventable patient injury. The following are common specific types of medical malpractice:
- Hospital Negligence: Hospitals are meant to be facilities of healing, and patients trust that they will receive quality care in a timely manner. When hospitals and their staff fail to meet the applicable standard of care for treatment, patients pay the price. Hospitals are responsible for providing employees with proper training as well as ensuring employee credentials remain in effect.
- Prescription Medication Errors: Errors in prescribing medication are among the leading causes of injury and death among patients. Prescription medication errors include over and under-prescribing medication, prescribing the wrong medication, prescribing a medication that negatively interact with other patient medications, prescribing the incorrect dosage, preemptively stopping medication, and failing to collect a patient’s health history, including any drug allergies.
- Surgical Mistakes: All surgeries involve some level of risk, no matter how minor. Surgical errors occur when preventable mistakes are made during surgery. These errors include performing the wrong surgery on a patient, operating on the wrong body part, puncturing or causing damage during surgery, leaving surgical equipment such as tools and gauze inside a patient, and more. These errors are extremely serious and cause additional pain and suffering for patients, if they are even able to survive surgical mistakes.
- Anesthesia Errors: Anesthesia errors are also common. An anesthesiologist is responsible for administering the correct dosage of medication to a patient prior to a procedure or surgery and for monitoring the patient’s reaction thereafter. Anesthesia must be administered within a specific time period so a patient is properly medicated during a procedure. In addition to administering the correct medicine and dosage, anesthesiologists are also responsible for monitoring the patient and responding to any changes in health while under anesthesia. When a patient is not given the proper anesthesia medication and/or dosage at the correct time and monitored carefully, he or she can experience catastrophic injuries like strokes, traumatic brain injuries, and even death.
- Failure to Obtain Informed Consent: Health care professions must advise their patients of the known risks and benefits of medical treatment. Failing to fully advise a patient and thus obtained informed consent regarding medical treatment can be considered malpractice; and, if an injury results, it can serve as the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Wrongful Death: When medical malpractice causes a preventable death, the family of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim. The families of wrongful death victims are entitled to compensation for their massive loss.
Since the 2000s, Pennsylvania law has made the process of recovering damages for victims of medical malpractice claims as difficult as possible. The Commonwealth has gone to great lengths to stack the odds against victims; however, when a skilled and experienced Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney represents an injured patient or a victim’s family, they can successfully recover the financial damages they are due.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Attorneys
No patient should ever have to endure additional pain and suffering caused by those they trusted to heal them. The stress, pain, and suffering associated with medical malpractice injuries takes a tremendous toll on victims and their loved ones, preventing much needed emotional and physical healing. Health care professionals have an obligation to their patients to act in accordance with the oath they swore to “Do No Harm.” Philadelphia doctors, nurses, hospitals, nursing homes, and long term care facilities have failed patients without being held accountable for their actions for far too long. Serving as advocates for their clients, the attorneys at Lopez McHugh LLP take pride in effectively and efficiently arguing their clients’ cases to get them justice. If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, contact the Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys of Lopez McHugh LLP for a free case consultation.