When you go to the hospital or see your family physician, there is an assumption that your doctor will, at the very least, “do no harm.”
While medical professionals in America are among the best in the world, there are exceptions. Bad things can happen while receiving medical care, and medical errors can result in serious injury or death.
Malpractice insurance is considered one of the major expenses of running a medical practice, and there are several cases of doctors’ offices closing because of the high premiums.
This has called for caps on medical malpractice case awards, dating back to the Clinton administration.
While malpractice lawsuits are considered by some to be frivolous, in reality they help patients recover damages when something goes horribly wrong.
Whether or not an incident is considered “below the accepted standard of care in the medical community,” is often the point of contention. Medical malpractice lawsuits need to establish what the expected standard of care is for a procedure. In a trial, both the plaintiff and the defendant would hire physicians as expert witnesses to testify that the act in question was, in fact, negligent.
Physician malpractice is also evaluated by the state medical board. If the medical board censures a doctor for his actions, it will go a long way to substantiating a claim of malpractice.
There are statutes of limitations on how long after the incident a patient can file a malpractice claim. Check your state laws carefully to confirm the length of time you have to file a lawsuit.
Medical malpractice cases are time consuming and costly. They require expert witnesses, pretrial discovery, depositions, subpoenas, and more. All this can take months, and cost many thousands of dollars.
Most medical malpractice cases are taken on contingency. There may be instances where it’s difficult or impossible to find an attorney to take the case, even if it has merits. “Winability” is an important consideration in medical malpractice lawsuits.
Medical Malpractice Case Specifics
Health Insurance and Malpractice
Many people have questions about how health insurance and malpractice affect each other. Is your health insurance company liable if they refer you to a doctor who commits malpractice? Must you pay back your insurance company if you win a settlement or court award? We answer these and many other questions in this section.
If a doctor refuses to provide medical treatment, is that malpractice? There are some instances where treatment denial is legally actionable, but in many cases it’s not.
Thousands of patients are treated each day at hospitals across the nation. The vast majority receive top-level care, but there are a fair number of patients who suffer undue harm due to negligence of medical professionals working at hospitals. Learn more about hospital error and medical malpractice in the following sections:
Dentists, orthodontists and endodontists are subject to the same malpractice laws as other doctors. You can learn more about dental malpractice lawsuits here.
Defective Medical Products
Lastly, if your injury or illness was caused by a defective medical device, you may want to learn more about medical device product liability.
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Visitor Questions on Medical Errors
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I’m a 29 year old female athlete in good health. In early 2014 I suffered from severe IT band syndrome in my left knee. I had gone through 6 months of physical therapy and 2 rounds of cortisone injections before my doctor suggested IT band release surgery. I had two prior arthroscopic knee surgeries due... Read More >>
Approximately 1 month ago I sustained an injury during a routine blood draw. The technician hit the radial nerve in my left arm. Immediately, it felt like a bolt of electricity ran down my arm to my hand. Then it felt like it was on fire just above my wrist. I yelled and the technician... Read More >>
I had a hysterectomy due to a fibroid, constant heavy bleeding, and very painful cramping. I was told (by the doctor that performed my hysterectomy) that the doctor that did my last c section had placed my uterus on top of my stomach instead of under it, and that is part of why I was... Read More >>
My pain management doctor had let go of their acupuncturist who used to do my acupuncture and injections. About a month and a half ago when I went in for my appointment, my doctor told me my past acupuncturist was no longer with the practice and she would be doing my injections and acupuncture. While... Read More >>
My son is 18 and attending college, and I am asking this on his behalf. My son got hurt while playing hockey at a school sanctioned hockey game. Initially he seemed ok, however the school trainer thought it would be best to pull him from the game and check him out for a concussion. She... Read More >>
I broke my ankle and needed surgery to repair it. During the surgery the doctor was drilling in a pin and it broke, so a new pin was used and the broken piece was stuck in my bone. In addition, 6 screws and a plate were inserted properly. Afterwards he said there would be no... Read More >>
I just recently learned that almost every blood count that I’ve had has shown an elevated white blood cell count. Of the doctors I have seen, the practice where this first happened never followed up on it, though the word “leukocytosos” was written in what little of my medical record that they sent me (as... Read More >>
My right arm was injured at birth due to medical malpractice, but I was unable to be compensated for because by the time I found out what happened the statue of limitations had ran out. However despite the disability I went on to become a master electrician. I have worked the last twenty years using... Read More >>
My mother past away 2 years ago and I just found out my brother filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against my mother’s doctor. I was not in her will. The doctor’s lawyers told me I had to take a deposition for the case. Since I didn’t know about the lawsuit I called my brother and... Read More >>
My dog went in for surgery to fix his broken leg after he was hit by a car. A few weeks later I took him into the vet cause he had a bump on the top part of his leg. The vet was trying to charge for x-rays and other treatments, and I said by... Read More >>