The American Association for Justice released a report in 2011 stating that preventable medical errors represents the 6th biggest killer in the country. As confirmed by the Institute of Medicine nearly 100,000 patients die and many more are injured each and every year as a result of inadequate medical care. In other words, this is a huge problem that continues to affect hundreds of thousands of patients and families.
If a medical professional causes a patient to suffer disease or injury by her negligent actions or failures to act, that medical professional could be guilty of medical malpractice. If a patient already suffers from a disease or injury, the treatment provider may still face malpractice liability if her actions (or in actions) increase the risk of harm to, or worsen the condition of, the patient. Medical malpractice can occur in many different scenarios. Some of the more common types of medical malpractice are:
- 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's health 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 even left inside a patient after surgery accidentally.
- Errors with medication or treatment: An unnecessary or uncalled for 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: Sadly, malpractice can and does 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 a physician's 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. Refusal to treat a former patient can sometimes result in a medical malpractice claim.
Securing a Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you think you or someone you know has suffered an injury due to the above, or any types of medical malpractice, call The Rothenberg Law Firm at 1-800-624-8888 or submit an online questionnaire. The initial consultation is FREE of charge. If we agree to take on your case, we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that we collect fees for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds.
In most cases, a lawsuit must be filed before an upcoming expiration date, known as the Statute of Limitations. It is important, therefore, to call right away to ensure that you do not waive your right to possible compensation.
Medical Malpractice Damages
There are two types of damages available in medical malpractice cases: compensatory damages and punitive damages.
1. Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages are designed to compensate. To the extent possible, these types of damages are meant to make the person as "whole” as they were before the incident occurred. Generally, these damages can be broken up into two sub-categories:
a) actual damages (economic); and
b) general (non-economic) damages.
a) Actual Damages seek to reimburse a plaintiff for financial losses sustained and typically include:
- Medical Expenses - Medical and hospitalization bills incurred to treat your injuries.
- Wages or Loss of Income - lost due to work missed while you recuperate.
- Life Adjustment Costs - Costs of household or nursing help during recovery, including costs of wheelchair or crutches required.
b) General damages can, in addition to actual damages, be sought by malpractice victims and are designedtocover things that cannot be assigned an accurate dollar amount.
General damages are awarded if the plaintiff experiences significant and continuous pain and suffering:
- Pain and suffering - endured due to injuries and any subsequent mental anguish.
- Value of medical expenses you are likely to incur in the future.
- Value of wages you are likely to lose in the future.
- Loss of consortium (benefits of a relationship).
- Loss of normal life.
2. Punitive Damages
In certain cases, punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, may be awarded. Punitive damages are not based on actual injuries sustained. Instead, they are a way to punish the medical professional for intentional or grossly negligent conduct that caused the injury to the plaintiff. Although it is fairly uncommon to see punitive damages in a medical malpractice case, it does occur with some regularity.
One example where punitive damages may be appropriate is when the victim is able to prove that she was not provided with proper informed consent (e.g. by surgeon before operation, or anesthesiologists before consenting to going under before a procedure). Other such examples of medical malpractice so shocking that courts have awarded punitive damages include, but are not limited to:
- Misrepresentation or fraud regarding surgery;
- Improperly performing a surgery or providing follow-up care following surgery;
- Improper administering drugs or anesthesia;
- Manipulation of medical records; and
- Failing to perform adequate tests in establishing the health of a child.
Obtaining a Malpractice Attorney
If believe you or a loved one have suffered an injury due to malpractice and deserve medical malpractice damages, call The Rothenberg Law Firm at 1-800-624-8888 or submit an online questionnaire.
The initial consultation is FREE of charge. If we agree to take on your case, we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that we collect fees for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds.
In most cases, a lawsuit must be filed before an upcoming expiration date, known as the Statute of Limitations. It is important, therefore, to call or contact us right away to ensure that you do not waive your right to possible compensation.