If you believe you might have the grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit, there are a few basics you need to know first. There are three prime elements in making a medical malpractice case. The caregiver must breach the standard of care, cause an injury through negligence, and the injury must result in significant damages.
Standard of Care
This is the idea that there are certain services all physicians provide in similar circumstances. Any patient has the right to expect this same quality of care from any caregiver in treating related medical conditions. Failing to provide this basic level of service is said to be a violation of the standard of care.
The standard of care must be violated to a degree that it caused an injury. This type of negligence must result in an injury in order to substantiate a medical malpractice case.
Finally, the injury must be to a degree that it costs or creates a financial burden for the plaintiff. This may mean the individual requires corrective treatment and continued medical care, due to the caregiver’s negligence. It may also include a loss of work time, pain and suffering, or some other hardship, such as a permanent disability.
Are There Trends in the Sources of Malpractice Lawsuits?
Since there must be an injury caused by the medical mistake in order to file a claim, not every error results in a malpractice lawsuit. However, there are common areas of medical treatment that are likely to produce the majority of medical malpractice lawsuits.
Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
As the doctor fails to correctly diagnose the condition, the patient’s health may suffer. A medical malpractice suit can be initiated, if the plaintiff can show another doctor wouldn’t have made the same error.
Childbirth Injuries or Prenatal Care Negligence
This is another common area for medical malpractice suits. When a physician fails to provide the appropriate standard of care for a pregnant woman, it can result in injury to the mother or in birth defects to the fetus.
This occurs in a number of ways. Either the doctor prescribes the wrong dosage, or he may prescribe a drug to which the patient has an allergy. In cases where the doctor should have reasonably been expected to know the patient would have an adverse reaction, negligence may be proven.
Anesthesia or Surgical Errors
Where anesthesia is involved, the patient may be given too much or may have an adverse reaction. If the patient isn’t continuously monitored, a reaction to anesthesia can risk the life of the individual. One of the most recent and more famous cases resulted in the death of celebrity gossip columnist Joan Rivers.
Surgical errors include damaging internal organs or operating on the wrong organ. Another common medical malpractice cause is leaving foreign objects in the body.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
If you feel you may have a case, it’s important to contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. First of all, you only have a limited period in which to file a claim. While each state is different, the statute of limitations on medical malpractice can be anywhere from one to three years from the date of discovery of the injury. In Georgia, the limit is two years, though special conditions may extend that time limit.
If you do feel as though you have a case, it’s important to gather as much information and evidence as possible. This means making copies of medical records and files pertaining to the malpractice issue. Consulting your attorney can help you discover exactly what documents and evidence you should make available.
Also, you should refrain from speaking with the doctor’s malpractice insurance carrier without the advice of your lawyer. Ideally, your lawyer should be present for any discussions of a possible settlement. Avoid signing any documents, until your lawyer explains the full implications to you. Insurance companies are out to settle the suit as quickly and cheaply as possible.
At Tate Law Firm, we are committed to getting you the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (912) 333-3915 and get the experts started as quickly as possible on your case.