Medical Malpractice and How to Prove a Claim

What can go wrong with medical procedures that can lead to further injuries?

Patient Being Examined in A Pennsylvania Doctors Office
credit image: Mackesy Smye

Medical malpractice issues occur when a patient is harmed by a doctor, a nurse, or any medical practitioner who was not able to give proper health care treatment. Doctors, nurses, medical professionals, and even hospitals make errors in small numbers, however when they do happen necessary action should be taken.

Take note that although a doctor may have made an error, or a patient was not satisfied with a specific treatment or its results does not mean that malpractice has “necessarily” occurred. To meet the legal requirements of medical malpractice, the doctor or the medical provider must be proven negligent in some way. This means that the doctor or the medical provider was unreasonably competent or skillful, and this incompetence has harmed the patient.

The Common Types of Medical Malpractices

Delayed or Misdiagnosis

Delayed or Misdiagnosis
image credit: Donahue & Horrow

When a doctor fails or misdiagnosis a condition for some time, the patient may miss the chances of treatment that he/she deserves. This may cause serious patient harm or even death. Misdiagnosis may result in the prescription of treatment that may not be appropriate for the patient and cause serious injury.

The key to a medical malpractice case is to show that the treating doctor did wrong and what a competent doctor should have done on diagnosing the condition. If a reasonably qualified doctor would not have made the same mistake under the same conditions, then the treating doctor may be held responsible for malpractice.

Childbirth Injuries

Mother Holding Newborn Baby's Hand
image credit: BBC

Medical malpractices can cause several injuries to a fetus during pregnancy or to an infant during the birth process. Some of these injuries are severe like brain injuries, full or partial paralysis, and fractured bones. Many of these cases, however, are caused by natural causes. But if the negligence of the doctor has caused any of these conditions, or if the doctor has failed to do something to treat a condition that results to these conditions, medical malpractice may have been committed.

Injuries can occur in different situations. If there is negligent medical treatment occurred during pregnancy, it could cause harm to the fetus, the mother, or both. Negligent prenatal care includes

  • failure to diagnose a medical condition of the mother (Rh incompatibility, anemia preeclampsia, hypoglycemia, or gestational diabetes)
  • failure to identify ectopic pregnancy, failure to identify birth defects
  • failure to diagnose an illness that can be infectious to the fetus (HIV, lupus, or herpes).

Negligence during childbirth can be due to

  • failure to diagnose birth complications caused by the size of the child
  • failure to know that the umbilical cord is entangled around the child
  • failure to administer a cesarean when it’s necessary
  • failure to address signs of fetal distress
  • inappropriate use of forceps or a vacuum extractor.

Medication Errors

medication errors
image credit: Goodwin & Scieszka

Medication errors occur in many forms. For instance, a doctor may make an error on the initial prescription, fail to observe a potentially harmful drug interaction, or administer a drug improperly. A common type of injury in a hospital setting is caused by wrong medication given to a wrong patient, but the most common medication errors involve improper dosage.

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia Malpractice
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Anesthesia errors are rare but these can be very dangerous compared to surgery errors. A small error made by an anesthesiologist can lead to permanent injury, brain damage, or even death.

Common causes of malpractice made by anaesthesiologist include

  • failure to inform the patient of the preoperative procedure (such as not eating for a particular period of time before surgery)
  • failure to probe into the medical history of the patient for possible complications
  • failure to monitor the vital signs of the patients
  • use of defective equipment
  • administration of too much anesthesia
  • improper placement of a tube in the trachea to help the patient with breathing (intubation).

Surgical Errors

Surgical Malpractice in Philadelphia Operating Room
image credit: Burg Simpson

There are also cases where a surgeon makes a mistake in the operating room, like making errors during the surgery itself. Other common surgery errors include

  • operating on the wrong body part
  • puncturing an organ or blood vessel
  • leaving a piece of surgical equipment inside the patient’s body

Also, nurses may be negligent in postoperative care that can lead to giving wrong medications, failing to give sufficient instructions to the patient for their own postoperative recovery needs, or using an inappropriate procedure that can lead to infection.

What are the basic requirements for a medical malpractice claim?

You must show all of the following requirements to prove that medical malpractice happened:

A doctor-patient relationship does exist

You must show that there is a doctor-patient relationship between you and the physician you are using. This means that you employed the doctor and the doctor concurred to be employed. For instance, you cannot charge a doctor that you just overheard giving advice at a party. When the doctor started seeing you and treating you, it is easy to prove that there is a doctor-patient relationship existed. Usually, the questions of the existence of doctor-patient relationship arise where the consulting doctor did not treat you directly.

The physician was negligent

Being unsatisfied with the treatment or results does not necessarily mean that the physician is held responsible for medical malpractice. The physician must be negligent that involve treatment or diagnosis. The sued the doctor for malpractice, you must show that the doctor has caused you harm in a way that a competent physician with the same circumstances would not have. The physician’s care does not necessarily be the best, but should be “reasonably skillful and careful.” The key to a medical malpractice claim is whether the physician is reasonably skillful and careful. In most states, it is required that the patient show a medical professional to discuss the proper medical standard of care, showing that the physician deviated from that medical standard.

The injury is caused by the negligence of the doctor. Since there are many medical malpractice cases where the patients are already sick or injured, there is usually a question if what the doctor did, whether negligent or not, really caused the harm. For instance, if the patient dies after treatment for brain cancer, and the doctor did something negligent, it is difficult to show that the negligence of the doctor caused the patient’s death rather than cancer. The patient must prove that it is “more likely than not” that the incompetence of the doctor directly caused the injury. Most often, the patient must have a medical expert to testify that the negligence of the doctor caused the injury.

The injury results in specific damages. Although the doctor has clearly performed the expected standards in his/her field, you cannot pursue a medical malpractice claim if the patient did not suffer any harm. Common types of harm that the patients can claim are mental anguish, physical pain, lost work and earning capacity, and additional medical bills.

How to find the right lawyer

If you believe that you or anybody you know has suffered from medical malpractice, there is a legal way to get the compensation that you deserve. We will assign you a highly qualified Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney to speed up the process of getting compensated. The lawyer that will be assigned to you will assist you to get the maximum compensation from the doctor, medical staff, or the hospital liable to make sure that you receive the benefits properly.

We have a team of qualified and experienced medical malpractice lawyers to assist you to win your claim. Our team’s vast experience in handling medical malpractice makes us the best option for your case. We will also assist you in computing the number of benefits you are entitled to receive, depending on your condition and the severity of your injury. We consider each possible factor that can assist you to develop a strong case against the doctor, medical staff, or hospital liable for your medical malpractice benefits.