What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is treatment by any type of health care professional which does not meet the standard level of care and results in harm to the patient. This includes failing to take a necessary action or taking an inappropriate action. In order to qualify as malpractice three elements must be present:
- There must have been a professional relationship between you and the health care provider
- The health care provider must have acted beneath the standard level of care that any other health care provider would have used in the same situation
- This substandard care must have harmed you in some way
What is the standard of care?
When speaking and reading about medical malpractice and medical negligence, we often hear the words “standard of care.” In tort law, standard of care is the degree of prudence and caution required of a medical professional who is under a duty of care. A breach of standard of care is necessary to prove medical negligence.
Legally speaking, standard of care is how similarly qualified practitioners would have managed the patient’s care under the exact same or similar circumstances. A medical malpractice plaintiff (and his legal team) must establish the appropriate standard of care and demonstrate that the standard of care had been breached by defendant (medical professional).
What are some common types of medical malpractice?
- Emergency room malpractice
- Failure to diagnose cancer
- Failure to diagnose heart attack
- Failure to diagnose stroke
- Birth injury/birth trauma
- Brain damage and injury
- Spinal cord injury and paralysis
- Surgical error
- Anesthesia error
- Medication error
Who can be held responsible for medical malpractice?
Any type of health care professional can be held responsible for medical malpractice. So can the facilities and companies that they work for. There can be multiple responsible parties in one malpractice lawsuit. Responsible parties may include:
- Emergency room staff
- Nursing homes
- Government institutions
- Pharmaceutical companies
What should I do if I think I am the victim of medical malpractice?
You must act quickly because time limits will apply to your case. Delaying action could mean forever losing your right to seek compensation. Some steps you should take include:
- Contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney
- Get copies of all of your medical records
- Get a medical evaluation from an independent party
- Gather and continue to keep all financial records and receipts for any and all related expenses and records of income loss
- Keep a journal of your experiences and how the malpractice has affected your life physically and emotionally
Is medical malpractice a crime?
It is estimated that up to 30% of malpractice cases may be criminal in nature. However, criminal cases are handled very differently to lawsuits, and require a much higher standard of proof in order to win. It can be difficult or impossible to get the necessary government agencies to pursue a criminal case, and response time is very slow, often taking 18 months or longer. Your chance of receiving the compensation that you and your loved ones need and deserve is much greater if you pursue a civil lawsuit.
My spouse died because he was turned away by an emergency room. Since he did not receive any medical treatment, is it still medical malpractice?
Yes. Many emergency rooms have an unethical and illegal policy of discriminating against patients who cannot prove their ability to pay for treatment. This practice is called “patient dumping.” It is unethical, immoral, and it is a form of medical malpractice.
What kind of compensation can I expect to receive?
The amount and type of compensation that you may be entitled to is dependent or the extent of harm, the nature of the harm, and the extent of the negligence or wrongdoing involved in your individual case. Compensation which you may be entitled to can include:
- Current and future medical bills
- Current and future loss of wages
- Long-term disability
- Long-term care expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
- Burial expenses
New Jersey medical malpractice attorney Michael L. Weiss, Esq. has tried several medical malpractice cases to a jury and has successfully recovered millions of dollars on behalf of medical malpractice victims and their families.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by medical malpractice, contact medical malpractice attorneys Weiss & Paarz, P.C., today.