Doctors take an oath to “first do no harm.” It’s a simple promise. Patients should expect all physicians and healthcare providers to live by it. Unfortunately, healthcare providers don’t always do that. They are not perfect. They make mistakes. Some of these mistakes cross the line into medical malpractice and can do serious harm to patients.
The New York Times estimates that around 200,000 Americans die each year from a preventable medical error. Many more suffer injuries due to inadequate care. Those who lose loved ones or suffer injury as a result of medical negligence know that it can be devastating to be injured by someone who was supposed to help you.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to medical errors by an Alabama physician or hospital, contact Belt & Bruner, P.C. Call our toll-free number or use our online form
. We’ll review your case and discuss your options in a free consultation.
When Healthcare Professionals Break the Medical Negligence Law
Every doctor or healthcare provider has a duty to his or her patients to act with a certain level of expertise and professionalism. This is called a “professional duty of care.” When a care provider breaches that duty, he can be found liable for medical malpractice
To determine if a care provider breached his duty of care, the provider’s behavior is held up against a hypothetical “reasonable professional” with the same type of background and specialization. For example, a surgeon would be judged against an average surgeon with a similar education and work history.
If the average reasonable care provider would not have made the same mistakes or acted in the same way as your provider did, then your provider can be considered to have breached his obligation to you. If this breach or failure caused you to suffer harm, you should consider filing a medical malpractice claim.
Types of Medical Malpractice
When comparing your physician or care provider’s behavior to an average reasonable doctor, there are a number of different ways that your physician can fall short.
For example, a doctor can be considered negligent on the basis of:
- Misdiagnosis – When a doctor or care provider either misinterprets symptoms or mixes up test results. You may end up being treated for a medical problem you don’t have or not getting the treatment you need.
- Delayed diagnosis – When a physician fails to recognize symptoms or to order tests to diagnose your condition, such as a delayed diagnosis of cancer. This can occur when lab tests are misread or when samples are contaminated.
- Anesthesia mistakes – Anesthesiologists must give you the right dose of medication, and you must be carefully monitored for signs of complications or distress. A mistake with anesthesia can cause death or permanent harm.
- Mistakes during childbirth – These mistakes can be devastating to a mother and her baby. A failure to order a C-section or to recognize fetal distress, overly prolonged labor or aggressive use of vacuums and forceps can cause cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, brain damage and a host of other conditions.
- Medication errors – A doctor may prescribe the wrong medication, a nurse may administer the wrong dose or a pharmacist may mix medication incorrectly. Doctors may also miss drug interactions. These errors can be fatal.
- Surgical mistakes – These mistakes range from doctors’ simply being careless to doctors’ making egregious errors like operating on the wrong body part or the wrong patient or leaving surgical sponges or tools inside the patient.
- Failure to treat – If you are discharged from a hospital without proper treatment, or if a healthcare provider otherwise fails to provide you with medical treatment that you need after you have sought help, then the care provider can be liable for harm that results from the absence of treatment.
How Does a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Work?
A medical malpractice claim is a civil cause of action. You can go to court and file a lawsuit similar to a personal injury
lawsuit. Filing a claim allows you to seek monetary compensation from the doctor or caregiver who hurt you.
Almost any type of medical care provider can potentially be liable for medical malpractice as a result of negligence.
For example, a claim can be brought against:
- Nurse practitioners
- Health clinics
- Medical technicians
- Nursing home care providers.
In some cases, multiple parties may face liability. For example, you can typically sue both a physician and the hospital or clinic that he/she is affiliated with if you were harmed in a hospital.
An Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help Prove a Medical Malpractice Claim
When you are the victim of medical malpractice, you have the burden of proving your case.
There are four elements to proving a claim, including:
- The care provider owed you a duty of care.
- The duty of care was breached.
- The breach direct caused your harm, or “causation.”
- You sustained damages.
You should be entitled to compensation to pay medical bills for all treatment that you incur due to the medical malpractice. If you miss work and experience pain and suffering or emotional distress, then you should be compensated for these losses as well. If your loved one is killed by malpractice, you are entitled to wrongful death damages. Speak with our wrongful death lawyer
These cases are highly technical. You generally will need expert witnesses to testify as to what your doctor or provider did wrong. The provider will likely have his or her own experts countering your evidence. Doctors also often argue that you would have had the same medical outcome regardless of what they did or did not do.
Speak with our Birmingham medical malpractice lawyer to get legal help with medical malpractice lawsuits.
Medical malpractice claims can be resolved by settling outside of court. They can also be decided in a trial, where a jury determines whether the doctor was negligent and decides how much to award in damages. In either case, you need a strong legal advocate on your side.
The Alabama medical malpractice lawyers at Belt & Bruner are experts in medical negligence law. We here to help with your medical malpractice claim. We have extensive experience with malpractice cases in Birmingham
and across the state, and we have the legal knowledge, skills and experience to help you achieve the best outcome possible. Give us a call today at our toll-free number or complete our online form
to set up your free consultation.