Medical malpractice is not a new concept. In fact, the first medical malpractice case seen in the United States was in the year 1794. Although it is not a new concept, many people do not understand it. Why? The truth is, it is very complex in nature to grasp. Only those who have studied and practiced in that area can understand the term “medical malpractice” and all of its rules, laws, and regulations. Trying to understand these laws alone can provide difficult, and possibly impossible.
Seeking the assistance of a Tampa lawyer that practices medical malpractice is a wise choice if a person believes that they could have been a victim of a medical mistake that led to their injury. The lawyer will help their clients understand how they became a victim of medical malpractice, who can be held liable in that situation, what damages they can recover, how much they could possibly be compensated for, and how to proceed after being injured.
So, what is the easiest way to explain “medical malpractice” to someone who does not know its true meaning? Medical malpractice refers to a physician or other medical professional that made a mistake on a patient while they were either treating them, caring for them, operating on them, prescribing them medicine, and even diagnosing them which led to their injury.
The creation of medicine has been beneficial for many, but it has also led to many deaths and injuries within the United States. Many might not know this fact but medical mistakes are among the top three causes of deaths in our Nation. Throughout the years, there has been an increase in medical malpractice lawsuits against care providers. This increase can be attributed to the fact that it is harder for medical facilities to cover up their mistakes.
Understanding why these mistakes happen, what can result from them, who can be held responsible for them, the different types of mistakes that can be done, and its prevalence is important when deciding to pursue a claim. Percy Martinez Law Firm located in Tampa, FL can provide their clients with all of that information and beyond.
Understanding Why These Mistakes Happen
There is no excuse for a medical malpractice. These mistakes should not be happening, but they do. Trying to understand why they happen is sometimes irrelevant because when a person is injured, they are not thinking about why it happened, they are thinking about why did it have to happen to them and what they should do afterward. Figuring out what was the main cause for this mistake is vital in any medical malpractice case because negligence must be proven. These are some of the reasons why medical malpractice occurs:
Being under the influence: It is possible that many people have heard of doctors who were arrested or discharged after operating on someone while intoxicated. No one ever said being a doctor was easy, and it is not. Doctors are called at all hours during the day and have to respond with immediate action. A doctor’s actions can be the difference between a patient living or dying. Many medical professionals use alcohol or drugs to escape from the reality they are in. The stress is too much for them to handle so they turn to the only thing that makes them feel “better”.
Being tired: As mentioned above, medical professionals can be called at any hour during the day. They work long hours and might not even be able to get any sleep. Every person requires sleep in order to function properly. A mistake can be done when a medical professional is exhausted. Their senses and brain do not function the same.
Being inattentive: A medical professional might be careless while dealing with a patient. They may accidentally snip an artery while operating, they might confuse a medication for another, and even forget a surgical instrument inside a patient’s body. That is just frightening to even think that such things can slip a medical teams sight, especially since all surgical instruments need to be accounted for.
Being poorly trained: Regrettably, many doctors lack the training and experience with certain conditions and injuries. A doctor may have never been in the presence of a certain condition and has no idea how to treat it. When a doctor is clueless, they need to call in another doctor who is capable and knowledgeable of the certain condition that the patient has. They should not try to treat it themselves because they might do more harm than good. Practice makes perfect, right? Yes, it does, but a doctor cannot experiment on a living person. They could learn by watching another capable doctor.
Being unable to deal with pressure: Becoming a doctor is not easy. Medical professionals see many things in a day that a person does not even see throughout their lifetime. Medical professionals deal with extreme pressure on a daily basis, more so in moments of emergent causes. In places like the ER, pressure is constant, and if a medical professional cannot handle the pressure, they will commit a mistake. Statistics will show that the majority of mistakes occur in emergency rooms. Medical professionals need to remain calm under these circumstances.
Disregarding signs and symptoms: This occurs more often in cases that lead to misdiagnosis/not diagnosing. There are medical conditions that display certain signs and symptoms that may be similar to another medical condition. A patient could be treated for the incorrect condition or not be treated at all when a medical professional is not able to differentiate the symptoms and signs.
Different Medical Mistakes on the Rise
A medical malpractice can present itself in many different forms. Because it can manifest in various forms, anyone who even suspects a slight mistake should seek legal consultation from a lawyer located in Tampa even if they think their injury could not have possibliy been caused by a medical error. As mentioned previously, below will be listed what mistakes can result from a medical malpractice.
Delaying/Failing/Not Diagnosing: Performing any of these three mistakes could be critical to a patient’s health. There are conditions that require immediate treatment or they could result in the patient’s death. A medical professional must quickly identify and treat any injury or medical condition that a patient might have, even if the doctor may believe it to be minor. Sometimes a physician might mistake a serious condition for a less serious one. A number of factors can contribute to why a condition is misdiagnosed, why it is not diagnosed, and why there is a delay in diagnosing it like misread lab results, improper tests, and more. Regardless, mistakes in this area can be deadly.
Errors under the knife: This is another way to say a surgical error. An error under the knife is a scary thought. Just picture waking up with the wrong surgery performed or waking up with a worse injury than originally in for? A surgery is a risky procedure. A patient must know the risks that can occur to them during any operation and the surgeon must withhold the appropriate standard of care.
Injuries during birth: A pregnancy is supposed to be a marvelous time in a woman’s life. Although a pregnancy may be uncomfortable and not as exciting as many portray it to be, being injured or having a mother’s child injured during her gestational period and birth leaves many people speechless. How sad is it to learn that a life that hasn’t even gotten the opportunity to breathe will already be subjected to a life of pain and suffering? Mistakes like failing to perform the correct tests during pregnancy, not ordering a cesarean section on time or incorrectly delivering the baby are just some errors that can lead to injuries or death.
Inappropriate anesthesia administration: Administering anesthesia is a delicate area in the medical field. A slight mistake can be disastrous for a patient. The anesthesiologist must be specialized in this area. The anesthesiologist must know how much anesthesia they must give a person according to their weight and medical history, they must know exactly where to inject the patient, what to do after the patient has been injected, and how to recognize problems that may surface. When any of these is improperly done, a patient might not even make it out of surgery.
Overdose/Underdose/Incorrect drug: Once a person has been diagnosed with a condition or injury, a doctor will usually prescribe them the follow-up medication that they need to take. A patient might have to take pain killers, antibiotics, or anti-inflammatory drugs. When a doctor prescribes a medication, they must write the amount the patient must consume and the appropriate medication for their condition/injury. Along with the doctor, the pharmacists must explain to the patient how they must take this medication and correctly fill in the drug. A mistake by either medical professional could end a person’s life or leave them incapacitated.
Not obtaining informed consent: Although this is not a direct harm, it is still considered a medical malpractice mistake. Informed consent must be performed by every medical professional that is treating and caring for a patient. The known risks and possible risks that can come from any procedures they plan on doing must be stated to the patient. Once the patient is aware of what can go wrong, they have to consent to proceed with their procedure regardless of what could happen to them.
Lost patients: What does this refer to? Nursing homes. Many nursing home patients have a condition known as Alzheimer’s. This condition can cause a patient to wander off and get “lost”. Ideally, security should be present, especially with these types of patients. When a patient wanders off and becomes injured as a result, the nursing home can pay for the consequences.
Medical Malpractice Statistics and Facts
The prevalence of medical malpractice will be seen through the facts and statistics. Below are some facts and statistics:
- Negligence in the medical field is the contributed to being the third most deaths in the United States
- Mistakes in diagnosing results in 80,000 to 100, 000 fatalities every year
- Mistakes that could have been prevented kill 195,000 patients every year
- Only 15,000 to 19,000 lawsuits are filed out of all the medical malpractice cases that occur annually
- A lawsuit will be filed against mostly every medical doctor at some point in their life
- While being an inpatient, one out of three patients will become a victim of a mistake
- Only 4% of medical malpractice cases make it to court, the rest are settled outside
Real Life Cases Involving Medical Malpractice
Not Ordering C-Section
In 2014, a mother who had undergone a completely normal pregnancy went into labor. During her labor, there were changes in her electronic fetal monitoring that pointed to the umbilical cord being compressed. When this happens, the baby can be deprived of oxygen to their brain. As soon as this occurs, the doctor needs to immediately order a C-section or emergency delivery. In this case, the doctor did not do any of the above. Instead, the doctor stood there watching to see if the mother would give birth unexpectedly. This delay caused the baby to have an abnormal heart rate and lack oxygen. At about 18 months of age, the baby girl was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She will require lifetime care. The family was awarded $6.5 million.
Failure to Advise of the Risks
In 1999, a woman was admitted to the hospital for DVT, which is a deep venous thrombosis that was present in her leg. In her family history, there was abnormal clotting. Before she was discharged, she was prescribed Coumadin. Coumadin is a medication that shields a person from blood clots. The vascular surgeon went on vacation after and gave over his practice to a general surgeon. During this time, the woman experienced vaginal bleeding and the general surgeon said she needed a hysterectomy. Once the vascular surgeon came back, he never advised how an operation on a high-risk patient like her could be catastrophic. In the end, the surgery did more harm than good and it was found that it wasn’t even needed. She had to have her left leg below the knee amputated, as well has the fingers on her right hand and her right foot. She was awarded $4.14 million.
Wrong Medication/ Delay in Code Call
Following a C-section, a woman was given Demerol which is a drug that is used to control postoperative shivering. Shortly after this medication was given by the nurse, the woman started having troubles breathing and was non-responsive. The nurse placed an oxygen mask on the woman and called for other nurses to come. A few minutes later, an anesthesiologist came and started performing resuscitation. A total of 15 minutes had passed since the emergency before any Code was initiated. This delay in the Code call resulted in extensive damage to the woman. The nurse did not administer Demerol, but another drug that caused adverse side effects. She was awarded $3.6 million.
Failing To Recognize Signs and Symptoms
A neck surgery poses known risks such as swelling and hemorrhage that can obstruct the airway. A 40-year old man went into surgery for his neck and after the operation, he was complaining to the nurses about not being able to breathe properly. The nurses simply jotted down the complaints but did not let the physician know given the risks that neck surgery can have. The morning after the surgery, the man was found unresponsive. His trachea was reduced to the size of a pinhole. An intubation had to be placed in his airway but it took almost 40 minutes to do. This caused the man to suffer severe brain damage and left him in a coma. Two days after, he died while in the coma. The sum of $2.5 million was awarded to the family.
Insulin Pump Malfunction
This was the first pregnancy of a 34-year old woman. She was a type 1 diabetic and was given an insulin pump to regulate her blood sugar levels during her pregnancy. This pump has an “auto off” manufactured in it. This “auto off” serves as a way to prevent a person from accidentally overdosing on insulin. However, the pump that was given to the woman did not have this feature. It was defective and the diabetes educator from the hospital was aware of this defect and did not let the woman know. The woman was sent home with this pump and was found in a comatose state three days after in her home. As a result, she was left with permanent brain damage and lost her baby. $5.2 million was given as a settlement to the family.
What Do People Ask The Most About Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a confusing topic for many. These are the typical questions that people tend to ask about medical malpractice.
Question #1: What is the main element needed in a medical malpractice case?
Answer: In order for a medical malpractice case to take direction, negligence must have been present by the medical professional that is being sued. But the physician caused my injury, why can I sue them? Because negligence is absolutely necessary to prove a case. Even though a patient may have been injured during a procedure, the medical professional may have not acted negligently. When this happens, a medical malpractice claim might not be able to be filed against the health provider because they abided by the standard of care. Only when negligence was part of their actions can it constitute a medical malpractice claim.
Question #2: Why are medical malpractice errors prevalent?
Answer: There is not one specific reason for these mistakes. Errors can happen by any medical professional like nurses, physicians, surgeons, and even anesthesiologist. The reason for these mistakes can range from fatigue to working under the influence.
Question #3: What can I recover from a medical malpractice lawsuit?
Answer: Specific damages and general damages are the two types of damages that a person can recover from any type of lawsuit. Depending on how much the injury damaged the person, the compensation will be determined by the jury or judge. With specific damages, it is much easier to place the amount a person will receive because these are amounts that have a number to them like medical bills. General damages are much harder to determine because these are damages that do not have a price to them like pain and suffering.
Question #4: How can I prove that I was injured during my medical care?
Answer: Proving that a medical malpractice occurred can be difficult. Trying to prove a case needs to be done with a medical malpractice lawyer in Tampa that is capable of handling these cases. There are many ways to prove that a medical negligence happened. For starters, obtaining all medical records of the patient before the accident and after the accident can show how the person was injured from the medical professional’s mistake. During a medical malpractice lawsuit, a medical expert will have to present to testify on behalf of the plaintiff. A medical expert can explain how the medical professional breached the standard of care and how the breach caused the injury. Also, having any witnesses present during the incident is vital for any case.
Question #5: What medical mistakes are seen the most?
Answer: There are countless of errors that happen within the medical field. Most people would be shocked to learn that medical mistakes kill as many as 195,000 people every year. All types of mistakes can occur during a medical setting, but some are more prone to surface than others. Errors in everything related to medication like the dosage amount and the type of medication given, diagnosing a medical condition for another one, not being able to diagnose the medical condition at all, taking too much time to diagnose the condition, performing an operation on the wrong site, and much more. Whenever a person is unsure whether their injury could be the reason for a medical malpractice claim, they should call Percy Martinez Law Firm in Tampa to learn whether their injury was the cause of a medical negligence.
The Medical Malpractice Experts in Tampa
It is quite shocking to know that medical errors are amongst the top three killers of people in the United States. Medical professionals are deviating away from the standard of care and are negligently hurting patients. Many of these injuries and deaths could be prevented when a medical professional does not act reckless and performs as they should. As facts and statistics show, these mistakes still happen on a large scale. Many patients go seeking care and treatment but it turns out that they leave the hands of these medical professional’s worst off than they initially were. Incredible, and not in a good way.
The firm of Percy Martinez Law Firm that serves Tampa tries to make the lives of these victims much easier by helping them through their medical malpractice claim. The lawyers want to see the victims be compensated for their damages and want those responsible for paying for their mistakes. Full compensation is what they fight for. No harm should go unanswered. They are there to help in every way.
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Find a medical malpractice lawyer today!