Every time we enter the doors to a hospital, doctor’s office, or other type of medical facility, we trust that our needs will be taken care of and that no harm will come to us. Medical professionals have a legal duty to care for us to the best of their abilities. Sometimes, however, mistakes are made and patients are harmed. This is a rare occurrence in the United States, but today’s hospitals are more understaffed than they’ve ever been. This small fact leads to more medical mistakes than many believe.
In the legal world, when a preventable medical error is made and a patient is harmed, we call this mistake an act of negligence. Medical malpractice is a form of negligence where an injury results from the failure of a medical professional or medical facility (doctor, nurse, medical technician, psychiatrist, hospital, or other health care facility) to exercise adequate care, skill, or diligence in performing a duty.
When medical malpractice occurs and can be proven, the victim and their family can file what is known as a medical malpractice lawsuit against the guilty doctor, medical professional, or institution. Doing so can grant a family peace of mind as well as help them recover medical costs, loss of wage costs, etc. A medical malpractice claim can additionally help that facility’s patients receive better care. After a claim succeeds, you can rest assured that no one will be harmed in a similar manner.
If you or a loved one has been harmed in a medical institution and feel a doctor, nurse, or other type of medical professional made a mistake that caused harm or injury, you should consider your legal options. If you’re located in the state of Georgia, an Atlanta, GA medical malpractice lawyer can tell you if filing a medical malpractice claim is in your best interest. First, let’s go over some basic facts about medical malpractice claims.
Learn the Facts: Medical Malpractice at a Glance
Many individuals are under the impression that there is no recourse when medical professionals make mistakes. This assumption couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s a simple fact that medical institutions have a lot to lose when a medical malpractice case is successful. Facilities can lose a great deal of malpractice insurance money if multiple errors are made—as well as lose reputation and even be placed under criminal investigation.
When a mistake is made in a medical setting, doctors, nurses, and other medical staff are trained to do anything and everything they can to provide “damage control” and divert the real cause behind the injury or harm that occurred. They may tell you there is nothing anyone can do. It’s a good idea to remember that they are not looking out for your best interests.
Concrete statistics about medical malpractice cases are difficult to come by. According to a report issued by the Civil Justice Resource Group, somewhere in the range of 25,000 to 120,000 deaths are estimated to be caused by medical malpractice every year in the United States. Most of the family members of these victims choose not to file a wrongful death claim, however, so most cases go undocumented. This figure can be compared to the 65,000 to 200,000 total estimated deaths that occur every year due to medical accidents—some of which are not considered malpractice.
In order for a mistake to be classified as an act of medical malpractice, it must be proven that the medical professional failed to exercise their duty of care. In the state of Georgia, two things must be proven for a medical malpractice claim to be successful:
- The health care provider failed to exercise a duty of care.
- The failure was the proximate cause of the injury.
When a health care provider acts negligently or makes a mistake that could have been prevented, we say that they have failed to exercise their duty of care. For example, if a surgeon is forced to cut a patient’s toe in order to reach a tendon in their foot, we would consider this unfortunate but necessary.
If, on the other hand, that same surgeon managed to operate on the wrong foot due to the fact that a technician failed to label the correct foot, this is an act of negligence. The staff had a duty of care to ensure they did everything to prevent the latter mistake from happening. They failed that duty. Both examples should be avoided whenever possible, but the separation of negligence is what differentiates the two.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice Claims
Medical malpractice lawsuits come in many shapes and sizes, but there are some types of claims that are more common than others. These include but are not limited to:
When a doctor or nurse prescribes or administers a wrong type of medication or dosage amount that harms a patient, this counts as medical negligence. This may also apply to a pharmacist who incorrectly fills a prescription and causes harm or a hospital staff member who fails to ask a patient regarding any medication allergies.
Misdiagnoses or Delayed Diagnoses
Misdiagnoses are fairly common in the medical world, but when a misdiagnosis costs a patient their life or causes them to suffer due to receiving the wrong treatment options and/or delaying effectual treatment, a simple misdiagnosis becomes far more complicated—and tragic. Similarly, when a major diagnosis such as cancer is delayed until the point where symptoms cannot be relieved, there is often no going back.
Most mothers give birth without issue, but occasionally a doctor, nurse, or delivery room attendant will make a mistake by failing to properly monitor the baby or mother or use the wrong tools or techniques to help the baby if complications occur. These issues can be detrimental to the health and development of a newborn. Cerebral palsy is one such example—and is often caused by medical negligence during the prenatal stage or childbirth.
Negligence-caused errors that occur during surgery and cause harm to the patient have consequences. These errors can range from failing to properly monitor a patient during surgery to not using the right equipment, leaving equipment inside the patient, or operating on the wrong limb/body part.
When a surgical patient undergoes anesthesia, the doctors and attending anesthesiologist have a duty to monitor the patient, be aware of any potential risk factors the patient may have, and properly handle any anesthesia-related complications which may occur. When this duty isn’t met, legal recourse can be taken.
Find Recovery with an Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or a family member has suffered from any of the above medical mistakes, you understand the massive ramifications an error by a professional can have. Medical professionals are trained to take their work seriously and treat patients with care, professionalism, and respect. When negligence gets in the way of their duty to issue quality care, lives are placed at risk.
When we take the time to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor, medical professional, or facility that allowed this negligence to happen, we help protect future patients and generations from harm. We force hospital corporations to train their employees better and hire more nurses and technicians. Together, we can keep Georgia residents safe.
At Bey & Associates, we can help you and your family obtain justice for a patient who should not have suffered. Our personal injury firm has the legal expertise your case requires. Contact our office to be paired with an Atlanta, GA medical malpractice lawyer who can evaluate your case at no cost to you. Call us today. Time may be running out to file a claim.