Doctors, nurses and other health care providers spend a great deal of time learning how to treat a great variety of illnesses and physical maladies. As a group they are professionals dedicated to helping alleviate the ailments that can plague mankind. Unfortunately, health care providers can also make mistakes. When mistakes are made the effects can be devastating. In fact, according to the National Academy of Sciences, approximately 98,000 Americans die from “medical mistakes” each year.
Medical malpractice is a form of negligence involving a medical treatment provider. If someone is injured as a result of a treatment provider’s digression from the standard of care, that treater may be liable for the injury that has occurred. The determination of whether a medical professional has met the standard of care is based on a comparison to other professionals in the same field and the same geographical region. In other words, what would a reasonably competent medical professional practicing in the same field as the defendant, and in the same area of the defendant, do under the circumstances that the defendant was facing with respect to care and treatment of the patient?
Medical malpractice does not occur every time there is a bad outcome from treatment. It is simply a duty to provide good care according to the accepted standards of the community and/or the accepted standards of a particular medical specialty. The law generally recognizes the practice of medicine as an “art” rather than as an exact science. Therefore, some latitude is given to practitioners with respect to the manner in which they choose to address the problems of specific patients.
If a medical treatment provider causes a patient to suffer a disease or injury by his or her negligent actions or failures to act, that health care professional may be guilty of medical malpractice. Even if a patient already suffers from a disease or injury, the treatment provider may still face liability for malpractice if his or her actions or inactions increase a patient’s risk of harm or causes the condition to worsen.
Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can occur in many different scenarios. Here are some of the more common medical mistakes:
- Failure to diagnose and properly treat medical emergencies. In emergency situations, prompt and correct treatment is essential.
- Failure to diagnose and properly treat serious medical conditions. Often symptoms are overlooked or a patient is taken for granted. Sometimes x-rays and other test results are misread.
- Surgical mistakes. A slip of a knife can cause severe problems. Sometimes medical instruments or sponges are left inside a patient after surgery by mistake.
- Errors with medication or treatment. A wrong prescription or treatment can cause serious injury or illness.
- Delays in diagnosis. Many times, diagnostic delay can have dire consequences, especially in the case of various types of cancer.
- Birth Injuries. Malpractice can often occur during labor. Complications arise that require immediate and proper reactions from doctors and nurses. Cerebral Palsy cases sometimes arise as a result of such medical mistakes.
- Failure to advise of diagnosis. A patient has the right to know the diagnosis so that he or she can properly assess treatment options.
- Lack of Informed Consent. A patient has the right to understand the risks associated with a particular type of treatment.
- Abandonment. A treatment provider cannot always simply stop treating a patient, especially in emergency situations.
If you or a loved one has suffered due to medical malpractice, call The Law Office of Ed Ryan at (518) 465-2488 or contact us online. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds. In many cases, a lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations. Please call right away to ensure that you do not waive your right to possible compensation.
- Complaint Form: Office of Professional Misconduct Enforcement for New York State
- Lectric Law Library Lawcopedia’s: Medical Malpractice
- New England Journal of Medicine
- Agency for Quality Health Care and Research
- Anatomy of the Human Body
- National Library of Medicine
- Health Grade – Hospital Report Cards
- Merck Manuals
- Medical Dictionaries