The Experience of Your Attorney Counts When Medical Malpractice Occurs
Although some people feel there are too many “frivolous” lawsuits, in reality, there may simply be an epidemic of medical negligence. A significant number of patients suffer serious harm from any number of negligent practices, dangerous drugs or medical devices. Of the hundreds of thousands of patients injured from the health care system each year, few of them actually bring suit—only about one in eight of those harmed by medical negligence file a lawsuit.
In 1999, the Institute of Medicine stated that 98,000 people in the United States die each year as a result of preventable medical errors, while hundreds of thousands more suffer non-fatal injuries due to preventable medical errors. Some 16 years later, estimates of that number have quadrupled; Healthcare IT News concluded in 2015 that 400,000 people die in the U.S. each year from preventable medical errors. Of those who do file a medical malpractice lawsuit, the motivation can be much more than money. Many patients just want to know what went wrong in their case, while others want to ensure the same thing does not happen to another innocent patient.
Many people mistakenly believe that malpractice claims drive up health care costs. In reality, the cost of settlements, jury awards and defending claims amounts to only 0.3 percent of all health care costs. Further, the threat of liability has been proven to improve health care outcomes—a 10% increase in malpractice costs has been found to reduce mortality by 0.2%. Patients who have been harmed by the medical profession are often confused, anxious and frightened and need solid legal help.
If you or a member of your family suffered harm as a result of a negligent medical practice, you need an experienced, knowledgeable Alabama attorney who will advocate for your rights. Your attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of your lawsuit; a medical malpractice attorney must not only have legal expertise, he or she must also have a thorough understanding of medical practices in order to successfully represent you. Martinson & Beason has all these things and will protect your rights from start to finish.
What is Medical Malpractice?
When a patient is harmed by a medical professional who has failed to competently perform his or her medical duties, medical malpractice has occurred. In order for a medical malpractice claim to be successful, the following elements must be proven:
- Your attorney must show there was a doctor-patient relationship between yourself and the doctor or medical professional named in the suit—in other words, you hired the doctor, the doctor agreed to be hired. By virtue of the fact that the doctor began treating you, there was obviously a doctor-patient relationship, however remember that medical advice overheard at a party is not the same thing.
- Your attorney must show that negligence occurred; simply being unhappy with the results of a medical procedure or with your overall treatment does not constitute negligence. Your attorney must show your medical professional failed to act in the way a competent doctor, under the same circumstances, would have done.
- Your attorney must show the negligence of the doctor or medical professional directly caused your resulting injury (causation). Because most people who seek medical treatment are sick or hurt in some way, it must be shown that the harm came directly from what the doctor did—or did not—do, rather than from the underlying disease or injury.
- Your attorney must prove that the injury caused by your doctor led to specific damages which can include physical or mental pain, additional medical bills and lost wages or lost earning capacity.
Various Types of Medical Malpractice
While there are many different types and levels of medical malpractice, some of the most common are:
Anesthesia errors—Perhaps one of the most common forms of medical malpractice, anesthesia errors occur when a patient experiences unnecessary harm as a result of the administration of anesthesia. Anesthesia errors can be caused by defective equipment, but more often occur due to negligence or incompetence on the part of a medical professional. Too much or too little anesthesia may be administered, the wrong anesthesia drug can be administered, failure to administer oxygen during surgery or properly monitor the patient may occur, a patient with known allergies may be given anesthesia, or there may be a failure to account for anesthesia interactions with the patient’s prescription drugs. The effects of anesthesia errors can be minor or extremely serious.
Emergency Room Errors—Although emergency rooms certainly save lives and are, understandably, a chaotic and rushed environment, medical professionals must nonetheless exercise a high standard of care. When medical professionals fail you in an emergency situation, the results can be devastating. The mistakes which commonly occur in an emergency room generally happen for one or more of the following reasons:
- Failure to treat due to lack of medical insurance;
- Delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis or failure to properly diagnose;
- Doctors or nurses who are improperly trained, overworked, or overtired;
- Unsanitary conditions, leading to a serious infection;
- Insufficient number of doctors and nurses on a particular shift, and,
- Failure to take a complete medical history.
Hospital Malpractice—The hospital where your injury occurred—such as Huntsville Hospital or Crestwood Medical Center—could be liable for your injury and may be included in your lawsuit. Hospitals must properly evaluate the qualifications of all medical personnel; providing privileges to a medical professional who is unqualified or incompetent can lead to serious or tragic consequences. The hospital may be liable for the following as well:
- Refusal to offer treatment or neglect of a patient
- Failure to offer necessary diagnostic tests
- Use of equipment which was not properly sterilized
- Improper use of anesthesia
- Administration of an incorrect drug or an incorrect dosage of a drug
- Failure to properly read or interpret test results, x-rays or a patient’s chart
- Post-op infections which may be caused by the hospital (staph infections), may be unrecognized by the hospital or could go untreated by the hospital and can be caused by failure to adhere to hospital protocol
- Surgical errors, including operating on the wrong part of the body
Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis—Patients’ health can be severely compromised when an illness is not correctly diagnosed or is diagnosed too late. The most commonly misdiagnosed illnesses include cancer (breast, lung, ovarian, prostate, brain) infections, ectopic pregnancy, vascular diseases and appendicitis. When illnesses go undiagnosed or are incorrectly diagnosed, the illness can progress, leading to further injury, suffering, and even death. In order to prove misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, you must prove negligence on the part of the medical professional.
Postoperative Negligence—Patients must be monitored and must receive a certain standard of care following surgical procedures. When doctors or medical professionals fail to recognize symptoms of infection, fail to monitor vital signs or fail to give detailed instructions regarding post-op care to patients, they may be held responsible for adverse results including: tissue death, internal bleeding, infections at the site of the surgical incision, viral infections, or unnoticed organ perforation.
Damages You Might Expect from a Medical Malpractice Claim
If your malpractice lawsuit is successful, you may be entitled to medical expenses, past, present and future, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, physical and emotional pain and suffering and loss of consortium. If a loved one was the victim of medical malpractice and died as a result, the family may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Why Choose Martinson & Beason for Your Huntsville Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Without an experienced Huntsville medical malpractice attorney by your side, you may find it very difficult to recover the compensation you are entitled to following a medical malpractice incident. The attorneys from Martinson & Beason will work hard on your behalf to recover compensation from the doctor, nurse, hospital or other medical professional who exhibited negligence in your medical care. If your medical treatment fell below accepted standards of medical care, and was responsible for your injuries, or the death of a loved one, we have the necessary knowledge and experience to help you during this difficult time.
We understand that your medical bills may be mounting alarmingly, and that you may have been unable to work since your injury, leaving your normal bills to go unpaid. The Huntsville attorneys of Martinson & Beason can fully comprehend your medical records; we have an extensive understanding of the injuries which can result from medical malpractice. If you want an attorney who will go the extra mile for you, call Martinson & Beason today.