Doctors work hard to help you regain health and wellbeing, and most of us have implicit faith in whatever our doctor tells us. In many cases, the doctor’s recommended treatment may not yield desired results, but the decisions taken by healthcare providers in good faith are never questioned by patients or juries.
But ,there are unfortunate circumstances where doctors or other care providers fall short of their expected standards of care, causing harm to patients. Medical negligence occurs when you are not given care that is normally administered to similar patients under similar circumstances. A patient has every right to sue the doctor, clinic, or hospital for medical negligence, and receive deserving compensation for the injury or damage sustained.
When a patient sues a healthcare provider, the onus falls on the patient to prove medical malpractice – and it is much more than just negligence on the part of the defendant that one needs to prove. If you are a doctor facing a medical malpractice lawsuit, you will have to adopt a reactive approach.
Healthcare professionals need to know more about medical malpractice and how vulnerable they are, despite their best intentions. Read on to know more.
Understand What Constitutes Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice is a punishable offense where medical negligence on the part of a healthcare provider causes injury or damage to a patient.
The plaintiff will have to prove that the doctor did not provide the standard of care that is expected from a professional with similar qualifications, experience, and expertise. A breach in the standard of care alone will not be ground for medical malpractice. The breach also should have caused considerable damage, harm or grave injury, or worsened an existing condition, which led to health complications.
The law requires the plaintiff to show the cause-effect relationship between the negligence and injury. If there is no causal relationship, then there is no medical malpractice case. Medical negligence alone does not constitute medical malpractice. If a patient is injured but cannot prove that injuries are due to negligence, then again, the case holds no water. It is also not possible to take a doctor to court if a patient has not gotten the desired results from treatment or if, during treatment, developed other complications, since there is no way to prove a breach in the standard of care.
Avoid Common Errors
There are several errors that healthcare professionals commit that can lead to complications and injuries to patients. Awareness about them will help you avoid these serious mistakes.
a) Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
Wrong diagnosis can affect the health of a patient adversely. It is not often that doctors misdiagnose a disease, and the plaintiff will have to compare what the doctor did or did not do with how a similarly qualified professional under similar circumstances would have delivered care. Delayed diagnosis of a life-threatening disease is also considered medical negligence.
But, sometimes the conditions under which doctors work are so incredibly difficult that they have no precedents to guide them. The quick decisions made sometimes yield results and sometimes don’t, but as long as they are made in good faith, juries tend to side with doctors.
b) Medication Errors
Sometimes, wrong medicines are prescribed for a misdiagnosis, causing injury. Wrong medicines to treat a correctly diagnosed condition will also lead to complications.
Errors in administering medicines lead to medical negligence lawsuits. Medication errors arise when dosages are wrongly prescribed, the nurse administers wrong dosage, or the pharmacist misreads prescription and packs the wrong dosage.
It is important that you are careful while prescribing medicines and dosages. Also, check whether the patient has any kind of allergy to medicines.
c) Anesthesia Errors
Anesthesia errors are very dangerous because even a small margin of error can lead to brain damage, paralysis, coma, or even death. An anesthesiologist can err by not staying fully informed about a patient’s medical history, and by not informing the patient about all potential risks involved in the process of anesthesia.
Wrong dosage or administration of anesthetic, and failure to monitor the vital signs of the patient, both constitute medical negligence during anesthesia.
d) Surgery Errors
Surgery errors involve negligence in operating rooms that can lead to puncturing of internal organs, operating on the wrong body part, or leaving surgical tools in the body. These are acts of gross negligence and can result in huge fines.
Poor post-surgical care can also deteriorate the health of a patient, and can lead to serious infections.
e) Childbirth Errors
Negligence on the part of the obstetrician can cause serious harm to the life and wellbeing of both the mother and child.
Negligence during childbirth can lead to fetal injuries. However, in many cases, brain injuries and other serious problems seen in newborns can be due to a combination of causes. Failure to diagnose problems in the fetus, potential complications in childbirth, and poor health of the mother can lead to medical malpractice cases. Only when negligence is jaw-dropping and astoundingly evident are criminal charges pressed against doctors. In such cases, you will require the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer to fight for you.
Be Wary of Medical Malpractice Causes and Effects
Medical malpractice cases can be a big blot on a doctor’s track record. But, if you are careful and never leave anything to chance, the probability of a case coming against you will likely be small. The assistance of a seasoned attorney can also help you get through this difficult and stressful period.
Guest post by:
Elizabeth Stepp is Senior Counsel at Oberheiden Law Group PLLC, one of the leading criminal law firms in Dallas, Texas. She graduated from the prestigious Yale Law School. She has much experience in dealing with financial services litigation and professional malpractice cases.