Medical facilities and healthcare providers hold a position of great trust in the eyes of patients and their families, who rely on their expertise and care for their well-being. Unfortunately, these expectations are not always met, and errors can occur, leading to severe harm or life-altering consequences.
It is crucial for victims and their families to recognize that if these errors amount to medical malpractice, they may have the right to seek compensation. This article aims to illuminate the necessary steps for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. If a healthcare provider has wronged you or a loved one, continue reading to discover more about your legal options.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a critical part of tort law that encompasses the harm patients endure due to negligence from healthcare providers. This negligence occurs when medical professionals, like doctors, nurses, or other experts in the field, fail to meet the expected standard of care, thereby causing harm to the patient.
The standard of care refers to the level of care that another healthcare professional with a similar background would have provided in the circumstances leading to the alleged malpractice.
However, it’s important to note that not all medical errors equate to malpractice. The crucial factor is that the care provided falls below the acceptable standard and directly causes harm to the patient.
Establishing Standard of Care
Recovering damages from medical malpractice hinges on proving a deviation from the expected standard of care. This task is demanding and necessitates the expertise and know-how of a specialized lawyer in this field.
An expert witness plays a pivotal role in establishing the standard of care and the deviation thereof. They are typically healthcare professionals with specific domain knowledge who can provide an informed perspective on the standard of care relevant to the case. They examine the situation’s specifics, compare the provided care to the expected standard, and help identify any deviations.
“These deviations, if proven, substantiate the allegations of malpractice. Given the technicality and complexity involved, victims are strongly advised against pursuing these cases without professional legal assistance,” says Attorney Christina Hanna of Berkowitz Hanna Malpractice & Injury Lawyers.
Affidavit of Merit in Medical Malpractice Cases
The Affidavit of Merit in medical malpractice cases is a legal document often required in some states when filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. It signifies a medical expert’s opinion that the healthcare provider’s care deviated from the accepted standard, causing harm.
The contents of this affidavit, which must be signed under oath, vary between states. Typically, it includes information about the standard of care and how it was breached. Consulting with a lawyer is paramount, as they can guide you through your state’s specific requirements, ensuring your affidavit is accurately and thoroughly prepared.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice takes on many shapes and sizes, but some instances are unfortunately more common than others. Misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis, for example, can leave a person grappling with an untreated condition while time slips away.
Surgical errors, too, are a chilling reality—from operations on the wrong site to unintentional harm to surrounding organs. Errors in medication – wrong doses, wrong drugs, or even drugs administered to those with known allergies – can have dire consequences.
Then there are the heartbreaking birth injuries, where errors during labor and delivery can cause lasting harm to the mother, the newborn, or both. And let’s not forget negligence in patient care, where a lack of adequate monitoring or premature discharge can disrupt a patient’s recovery.