Hospital Errors and Medical Malpractice
What are Hospital Errors?
Hospital errors are any mistakes that are committed by persons employed by a hospital. These can include doctors, physicians, surgeons, nurses, administrative staff, and clerks. When discussing hospital errors, most people are usually thinking about a medical malpractice claim. However, you should keep in mind that not all hospital errors can necessarily be called medical malpractice.
In order for malpractice to occur, it needs to be shown that the hospital employee was negligent in someway- that is, they breached their duty of care, resulting in injury or economic loss to the plaintiff. Also, the hospital error generally needs to be related to medical treatment or the performing of a medical procedure in order to constitute malpractice.
Thus, non-medical hospital errors aren’t usually the basis for a malpractice claim. For example, if a janitor employed by the hospital used the wrong cleaning tools, it probably wouldn’t be considered medical malpractice, especially if no one was injured as a result. The hospital error needs to have a negative affect on a patient’s medical treatment.
What are Some Common Hospital Errors?
One major hospital error is the failure to inform the patient of all the risks involved in a particular treatment, surgery, procedure, or medication. Another is failing to obtain the patient’s consent to perform a surgery, after they have been informed of the risks. The two of these together form the basis of informed consent lawsuits.
Other common hospital errors are:
- Diagnosis issues: Misdiagnosis can be problematic and can lead to other errors
- Medication injuries- this can include prescribing the wrong medicines or wrong dosages; providing expired, outdated, or recalled medicines, etc.
- Anesthesia Errors- may involve failing to warn of dangers, administering wrong dosages, disregarding patient allergies to anesthesia
- Childbirth Injuries- for example, the negligence of a nurse or clerk in providing pre-natal care, or the negligence of a doctor during child birth, resulting in a birth injury to the infant or mother
- Surgery Errors- again, the most common error is failing to obtain the patient’s informed consent. Other surgical errors include performing the wrong treatment, or leaving foreign objects in the patient’s body (such as a sponge)
- Emergency Room Malpractice- this usually involves the emergency room staff refusing to admit or treat a patient
There are many other different types of hospital injuries that can occur; these are a few of the more major mistakes that are often committed by a medical care institution. Also, medical malpractice laws can vary widely by state, and so these violations may be treated differently according to jurisdiction.
What are the Legal Remedies for Hospital Errors?
Most hospital error medical malpractice claims will result in a damages award to the injured plaintiff. The damages award may reimburse the plaintiff for their losses, including:
- Any additional medical expenses resulting from the error
- Extra hospital bills
- Lost wages, if the injury caused the person to miss work
- Loss of earning capacity, if the person can’t earn as much due to the injury
- Other costs such as court fees and attorney’s fees
- In some instances, pain and suffering
- If the error involved extreme recklessness, punitive damages are sometimes awarded
Finally, some states may limit the amount of damages that a plaintiff can recover for medical malpractice. This is to help reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits that are filed in connection with hospital errors.
Do I Need a Lawyer if I Have Issues With Hospital Errors and Medical Malpractice?
Hospital errors can often result in very serious injuries and losses. If you believe that you’ve been affected by a hospital error, you may need to hire a personal injury lawyer. A highly qualified attorney in your area will be able to provide you with legal advice, and can help you file a lawsuit to recover your losses. Your lawyer can be on hand to represent you during the court proceedings.
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Last Modified: 04-17-2012 11:04 AM PDT
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