Medical malpractice claims vary widely because injuries could range from something you recover from in a few weeks to an injury that affects or disables you for the rest of your life. While you expect to get better when you see a doctor, that does not always happen. Sometimes doctors make honest mistakes, but in some cases, their actions or inactions are negligent—and you are the one who suffers for it.
Types of Medical Malpractice Errors
Medical malpractice comes in several forms. However, you must show that the medical professional’s error was below the standard of care for their field and that you suffered an injury because of it. A medical malpractice attorney will review your medical records, speak with witnesses, and take other steps to determine whether a medical professional was medically negligent.
To prove negligence, you must show:
- The defendant has a duty of care.
- The defendant breached the duty of care.
- The breach caused your injuries.
- You suffered damages because of your injuries.
Medical malpractice errors generally fall under the following categories:
In many cases, birth injuries happen because of mistakes that are not negligence. However, in some cases, the mother or baby might suffer injuries or even death due to the actions or inactions of medical professionals. This may include failing to diagnose, not ordering an emergency cesarean section on time, failing to properly use equipment, such as forceps and vacuums, medication errors, and failing to handle complications competently.
Birth injuries might include palsies, nerve damage, fractures, paralysis, developmental disorders, and other issues.
A misdiagnosis could cause an illness to progress into a more advanced stage, which means additional treatment when doctors finally find it. A misdiagnosis could also cause death. If a medical professional fails to diagnose a condition correctly or at all, and another doctor could have made a proper diagnosis, you could have a misdiagnosis claim.
To bring this type of claim, you need to hire expert witnesses to testify that a doctor was negligent because another doctor could have correctly diagnosed the condition and the reasons why another doctor could have made the diagnosis. You will also need to show that the misdiagnosis affected your health or caused a loved one’s death.
Medical professionals sometimes make medication errors, including giving the wrong medication, giving the wrong dosage, prescribing the wrong medication for a condition, and mixing up medications with other patients’ medications. In some cases, a medication error is due to misdiagnosis. Hospital equipment could also be defective and administer an incorrect dosage.
Medication errors could lead to illness and even death and are serious errors.
Surgical errors might include operating on the wrong body part, or the wrong person, leaving a foreign object in your body, or damaging another part of the body during surgery. Things that doctors agree should never happen, such as leaving foreign objects in the body, are negligence.
In some cases, if medical professionals do not adequately care for you after surgery, you might suffer from infections and complications. If you develop infections or complications, they could be part of the process or because of negligence on a medical professional’s part. Expert witnesses help medical malpractice attorneys review your medical records to determine whether an infection or complication is because of negligence.
Not many think about anesthesia because it is so common. However, anesthesiologists can also make negligent errors—which can be devastating. Anesthesia errors could cause brain injuries and death if the anesthesiologist gives too much or uses anesthesia the patient is allergic to.
If the anesthesiologist does not use enough anesthesia, the patient might feel everything the surgeon does but may be unable to move or talk to let the surgeon know. In other cases, the anesthesia equipment might be defective, and the injured person might recover compensation from the manufacturer.
Recovering Damages After Suffering from Medical Malpractice
You could recover compensatory damages in the form of economic damages and non-economic damages after a medical malpractice case. The amount you recover depends on several factors, including the severity of the injuries. For example, an error that takes medications to correct is not as severe as a surgeon amputating the wrong limb—and that is not as serious as causing a patient’s death by giving the wrong medication.
Legal professionals may also look at why a medical professional erred. For example, a doctor who operated on someone and amputated the wrong body part because they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol is more likely negligent than a doctor forced into working overtime and erred because of fatigue after a patient developed unexpected complications during the surgery.
Damages you might recover after a medical malpractice case include economic damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and death-related expenses.
Depending on your injuries, medical expenses might include additional surgeries, follow-up appointments, various therapies, and upgrades to your home, such as widened doorways and grab bars.
You might also recover non-economic damages, including:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life if you have to take prescriptions or use ambulatory aids for the rest of your life because of a medical professional’s negligent error.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer participate in or enjoy family activities and events.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer enjoy a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Loss of use of a body part, such as a foot or hand.
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your eyesight or bladder.
- Amputation of a digit or limb.
- Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you usually do, including but not limited to house cleaning and lawn maintenance.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one because of a medical professional’s negligence, contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible for a free case evaluation.