At one point, researchers estimated that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. The most alarming part of the 2016 study is that the numbers may be even higher due to poor reporting.
It is not just a privilege for someone to get proper care when treated by medical professionals and institutions — it’s the law.
Patients who experience negligent or inadequate medical care have the right to make a personal injury claim in the court of law. You can discuss it further with a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer.
Medical Malpractice Definition
Medical malpractice is when a hospital, doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional causes injury to a patient due to negligence.
In other words, it is an act or omission during treatment by a healthcare professional that departs from the accepted standards of the medical community and leads to injury.
Medical malpractice is a subset of tort law, which is a body of law that aims to provide relief to people injured by others and prevent the harmful acts from happening again. The laws surrounding medical malpractice are not codified in federal law. Instead, medical malpractice law has typically fallen under the authority of the states.
Common Examples of Medical Malpractice
The types of medical malpractice patients can experience are varied. These are some of the most common examples of negligent care.
When a doctor misdiagnoses or fails to properly diagnose a patient, the results could be deadly. As the most common type of medical malpractice, misdiagnosis can occur when a doctor does not thoroughly examine symptoms, fails to follow up with a patient, or comes to the wrong conclusion.
According to a study that looked at medical malpractice claims around the world in 2013, death was the most common consequence in misdiagnosis claims.
These are some of the most common missed diagnoses that malpractice lawyers in Maryland encounter:
- Heart Attacks
- Ectopic Pregnancy
- Bone Fractures
Countless things can go wrong before, during, and after surgery that lead to unnecessary injury. Sometimes a doctor will recommend a surgery that is not needed. Other times, a surgeon may make an error during the operation.
In some of the most severe errors during surgery, surgeons have been known to leave items inside patients, including equipment and phones.
Another example of a surgical error is operating at the wrong site. One doctor was accused of amputating the wrong leg thanks to a series of errors.
Even though anesthesia has been used for more than 150 years, administering the drug remains dangerous. If an anesthesiologist does not properly investigate the patient’s history or does not monitor the patient’s vital signs during an operation, he or she could face a medical malpractice claim.
Mistakes Prescribing Drugs
Prescription drugs are important in combating all types of symptoms and illnesses. However, errors prescribing and administering medications can be fatal.
If a doctor prescribes the wrong, too much, or too little medication, it could be classified as medical malpractice. Pharmacists or nurses can also be held accountable for errors in prescribing or administering prescription drugs.
Errors During Childbirth
Every year, there are nearly four million births in the United States alone, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. While the vast majority do not encounter any issues, errors during childbirth are not out of the ordinary.
Examples of errors during childbirth include inadequate care for the mother or baby, harmful medication administered to the mother, or a failure to anticipate complications.
Negligence in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Not every patient who suffers while in the care of a healthcare professional can claim medical malpractice. For the injury to be considered medical malpractice, the offending party must be found negligent.
Negligence is at the center of all personal injury lawsuits. According to Cornell Law School, negligence is “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.” It typically includes actions someone takes that result in injury, but it can also be an omission of duty.
Although the law differs by state, four elements are typically required to establish a case of negligence for medical malpractice.
Duty To Care
There must be a legal duty that the defendant has to care for a patient. When a patient goes to a medical facility, the institution or healthcare professional has a duty to care for the patient.
Breach Of Duty
Next, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached their duty to care with a mistake or failure to act.
The patient has to show that the breach of duty led to the injury. There is also a proximate cause, which deals with the harm caused within the scope of the defendant’s duty.
Finally, the patient must prove they were harmed and suffered from actual damages related to the breach of duty.
Hire a Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical malpractice lawsuits are common. However, they can be complicated and time-consuming.
Maryland medical malpractice lawyers have the skill and knowledge needed to bring lawsuits. This includes first-hand experience gathering the necessary documentation, thoroughly investigating local law, and negotiating with companies.
Not only do those who hire a lawyer for their medical malpractice suits often get larger settlements but they also report higher levels of satisfaction and peace of mind. Those who think they may have a case against a healthcare professional or institution should contact a lawyer to find out more about next steps.