Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Attorneys
When you’re under a doctor’s care, you trust that your doctor will make decisions that are in the best interest of your health. Yet, every year, thousands of people suffer injury or die because of medical errors.
Medical errors may include:
- Undiagnosed or misdiagnosed conditions and diseases
- Medication overdoses and prescription error
- Surgical errors
- Infection or illness caused by unsanitary equipment
- Failing to advise patients about behaviors that could worsen their condition.
These types of cases require plaintiffs to prove many points in order to prevail on a claim of medical malpractice. Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller has litigated many cases on behalf of medical malpractice victims and their families, so we understand how to achieve favorable results for our clients.
If you or a family member has suffered an injury due to medical error, don’t wait to get help – medical malpractice cases must be filed within a certain time period after an injury is discovered. Call us today for a free consultation: (800) 529-6600.
Usually, in personal injury cases not related to medical care, proving that a defendant was negligent requires only a few conditions – plaintiffs must show that defendants knew their action or inaction could result in serious injury to another person. In medical malpractice cases the law requires additional proof as a means of protecting healthcare providers from false claims.
A plaintiff must prove:
- The existence of a doctor-patient relationship – This means the patient agreed to be treated, and the doctor agreed to be hired.
- Doctor negligence caused the injury – A patient may need to get the opinion of a medical expert to prove that the injury was caused by doctor negligence.
- The injury caused the alleged damages – A patient must demonstrate a causal relationship between the injury and damages such as loss of income, additional medical expenses, or pain and suffering.
- The doctor was negligent – To prove negligence, a patient must show a doctor caused injury by acting in a way contrary to how a competent doctor would behave.
Prevalence of Medical Errors
A study published in the September 2013 issue of the Journal of Patient Safety reported the number of deaths attributable to hospital error could be at least 210,000 – and perhaps as high as 440,000. Those figures are extrapolated from case studies and don’t include errors made in non-hospital settings.
According to the study’s author, a toxicologist for NASA, a number of factors make it difficult to say exactly how many deaths are caused by hospital error. Some medical errors are simply not reported. Another study found that 45 percent of physicians who believed fellow doctors were impaired or incompetent didn’t report their suspicions to anyone.
Medical errors may be immediately evident, such as a medication overdose that causes cardiac arrest. Symptoms of other medical errors may be delayed, such as a disease caused by contaminated equipment. And in one shocking case reported in the quarterly medical journal Hippokratia, a woman discovered three years after a liver operation that her surgeon had left the forceps in her abdomen.
Why Errors Occur
Medical mistakes can happen for a number of reasons:
Communication – When communication breaks down between two doctors treating the same patient, or among hospital staff, people making important decisions for patients may not have all the information they need.
Record-keeping – Inconsistent, outdated, or inadequate record-keeping can cause doctors to miss important details, like a patient’s medication allergies.
Procedures – A health care facility may lack adequate procedures for sanitation and patient handling.
Staff shortages – In understaffed health care facilities, people may try to get more done by cutting corners, or ignoring procedures.
Lack of sleep – Some doctors and surgeons work incredibly long hours – so much so, that their ability to think clearly and handle medical instruments may be compromised.
Chemical dependence – Medical professionals encounter a lot of stressful situations that could increase their risk of alcohol and drug dependence. In a 2012 survey of 7,197 surgeons, 15.4 percent who took the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) had scores indicating alcohol abuse or dependence.
Getting the Right Care
A sloppy surgery, misread X-ray, or incorrect prescription are just some of the errors that can cause injury or death. It’s true that everyone makes mistakes. But medical professionals are expected to abide by a higher standard – and to understand how their actions or inaction could affect their patients.
If you or a family member has been injured because of a medical mistake, you need a lawyer who will look out for your best interests. Pursing a claim of medical malpractice could help you recover from your losses, as well as protect other people from dangerous or careless doctors. Call us today at (800) 529-6600, or fill out our contact form, for your free consultation.