A few years ago, a study by experts at Johns Hopkins determined that medical errors claim the lives of more than 250,000 people in the United States annually. This estimate is conservative when compared with similar studies which have concluded that the death toll from medical errors in the U.S. on an annual basis is as high as 440,000 individuals lost.
Anyone who has ever watched a medical drama has been reminded of the fact that healthcare providers are human. Humans make mistakes. Oftentimes, these mistakes are not intentional and oftentimes healthcare providers deeply regret the consequences of their missteps. It is also possible for a mistake to happen and for that mistake to be “missed.” Meaning, that a patient might never be notified that a mistake has occurred because no one has realized that a mistake has taken place. Sometimes, a medical mistake is not identified until the patient’s body begins manifesting symptoms (which could potentially have been prevented) that can ultimately be traced back to one missed test, one overlooked lab result, or an endless number of alternative medical mistake scenarios.
At this time, medical errors are among the top five causes of death in the U.S. Additionally, millions of non-fatal medical errors impact the lives and wellbeing of American patients every year. If you either know or suspect that you may have suffered medical complications or other forms of harm as a result of a medical mistake, please schedule a consultation – available at no cost – with our experienced legal team. We may need to do some investigative work before we can say with authority whether you have grounds to file legal action at this time. However, if this is the case, alerting our firm to your situation in a consultation setting will allow us to give you as much personalized guidance as we can upfront and will allow you to make informed decisions about whether you would like us to proceed to an investigative phase on your behalf.
Passionate Advocacy for Injured Patients
Medical malpractice is a complex area of civil law, partially because no two cases ever unfold under exactly the same circumstances. As a result, our job requires us to treat every case with clear-eyed attention to detail, focus, and a commitment to pursue every lead in an effort to uncover the truth and ensure that justice is done on our clients’ behalf. Our firm’s client-focused approach to representation also necessitates compassion for our clients, especially because a breach of trust in a doctor-patient scenario can be traumatizing mentally and emotionally, as well as physically.
If you choose to entrust your case to our firm, we will take great care to respect the fact that you have recently had your trust violated by a professional in whom you placed your wellbeing. It may therefore be uniquely difficult for you to trust legal professionals to handle your case with integrity, care, and the attention that your case deserves. Hopefully, it will help you to know that our legal team has developed a reputation for knowledgeable, quality, and compassionate legal representation and for passionate advocacy on behalf of our clients.
We do not take this reputation for granted, but instead seek to reinforce the values that we employed in order to earn this reputation in the first place when we begin to work with every single new client who walks through our doors.
What if I Have Been Offered a Settlement?
If the medical mistake that has caused you harm has already been identified, it is possible that you have already been offered a settlement by a healthcare facility or counsel for one of the healthcare providers involved in your situation. If this is the case, is important to allow our experienced legal team to review your settlement offer before you accept it. There are generally two kinds of settlement offers extended once a medical mistake has been made. The first Is fairly valued. This kind of settlement is offered in an effort to avoid litigation costs and to “wrap up” a potentially contentious matter quickly. Such settlement offers are often extended partially to avoid a public relations problem as well.
The rationale behind these settlement offers is that if an offer of compensation is fairly valued to begin with, the injured patient will have no reason to file a lawsuit. The second kind of settlement offer that tends to be extended in the wake of a medical mistake is undervalued. These settlement offers award patients less compensation than they deserve. Such offers are extended in the hopes that patients will be eager to move on with their lives and will not be interested in “rocking the boat” by filing legal action in an effort to secure the full amount of compensation to which they should be rightfully offered.
Allowing our firm to assess your settlement offer will better ensure that you are being extended an offer of fairly valued compensation and that there are no terms within the settlement offer that may unreasonably compromise your rights as an injury victim. The costs associated with a medical mistake can be long-lasting and expensive. The last thing you need, as you are navigating the aftermath of a medical mistake, is to be burdened with costs that should be covered by those who caused your harm in the first place.
Ensuring that any settlement offer you’re extended is fairly valued will allow you to feel confident that you will not be unjustly burdened by expenses related to your medical mistake moving forward.
Medical Negligence and Duty of Care Considerations
If you choose to file legal action against the healthcare provider(s) and/or healthcare facility that caused your harm, our team will take time to strategize and gather evidence to better ensure the eventual success of your claim. Although approximately nine out of every 10 personal injury cases settle before there is ever need to go to trial, our team prepares every case for trial partially because we need it to be as strong as possible in the event that it becomes contentious and partially because preparing a case for trial better ensures that it is as strong as possible during the negotiating phase of litigation as well.
To hold a medical care provider or health care facility accountable under personal injury law, these three foundational concepts need to be proven in regards to your unique situation:
Duty of Care – Not all health care providers owe a so-called duty of care to every patient. It must be proven that the healthcare provider in question owed you a legal duty of care before you can hold that provider accountable for breaching that duty and causing your injuries as a result of that breach.
Practically speaking, this means that you may not hold a medical facility or healthcare provider liable for medical negligence until you have affirmatively become that facility’s or provider’s patient. Once the provider-patient relationship is established, the standard of care issues explored below become relevant and patients can expect that they will be treated with the degree of care, skill, and diligence afforded to other patients in similar situations by reasonably competent and similarly situated providers.
Standard of Care Violation – Patients have the right to expect that their healthcare providers will provide them with treatment consistent with a legally recognized standard of care. This standard of care varies from medical scenario to medical scenario, as the law classifies medical standards of care based on those standards recognized by the profession as “acceptable medical treatment by reasonably prudent health care professionals under like or similar circumstances.” For example, the standard of care applied to an oncologist’s skin check of a patient with a previous history of skin cancer will be different than a pediatrician’s skin check of a child who has badly scraped their knee.
Injury Caused by the Standard of Care Violation – If a patient is not injured as a result of their healthcare provider’s standard of care violation, the patient will have no grounds upon which to file a claim. Only if harm occurred that would not have otherwise have occurred – had the healthcare provider upheld their professionally applicable standard of care in the situation in question – will the patient have grounds to file legal action successfully.
This standard is distinct from the reality of sustaining an unfavorable treatment. Unfavorable outcomes in medicine are not always preventable. Injury must have occurred due to a healthcare provider’s negligent, reckless, or intentionally dangerous violation of their standard of care for a patient to have grounds for an actionable claim.
Common Medical Mistake and Negligence Scenarios
Some medical mistakes are more commonplace than others. The most common medical missteps that may result in significant harm to a patient include:
- Failure to secure the patient’s informed consent
- Surgical mistakes – including anesthesia errors and wrong-site surgery
- Failure to properly consider the patient’s medical history
- Delay or failure to diagnose
- Failure to order or inadequate approach to follow-up care
- Incompetent or otherwise improper treatment
- Dosing errors and other mistakes related to prescription medication
- Premature discharge from a healthcare facility
- Unnecessary procedures, labs, tests, treatments, or surgery
- Failure to identify symptoms
- Failure to recognize and prevent known drug interactions
- Misinterpretation or unjustified disregard of lab results or testing
- Failure to order necessary labs, tests, or treatments
Patients entrust their health, wellbeing, and ultimately their lives to healthcare providers simply by seeking medical care. When this trust that their healthcare providers will “first do no harm” is compromised, that reality can be difficult to process. Please know that you do not have to process the legal side of this reality alone. Our experienced legal team, which has handled many medical malpractice cases of varying levels of complexity, is here to advise you and to help you make informed decisions about your legal options.
If you have not yet made a confidential, no-obligation, free consultation with our legal team, please do so today. Remember that speaking with our team will not obligate you to take any action. Instead, taking this meeting will simply allow you to ask questions and to receive an objective case analysis from legal professionals with experience in this complex subsection of the law.
Our firm is dedicated to helping personal injury victims navigate some of the most challenging times imaginable. Regardless of whether or not it is revealed that you ultimately have grounds to file legal action at this time, you deserve to know the truth about what happened to you. You also will deserve to see justice done in the event that you are not only the victim of a medical mistake but the victim of legally actionable medical negligence. We would be honored to assist you with your legal needs accordingly.