Medical malpractice is a type of legal claim that usually involves the negligence of a:
- Nurse; or
- Healthcare professional.
Proving medical malpractice has occurred typically requires a plaintiff to have suffered medical injuries as a result of the medical professional’s breach of their duty of care. There are various standards of care that will apply, depending on the professional’s:
- Line of work;
- Educational background; and
- Medical experience.
Examples of medical malpractice may include, but are not limited to:
- Prescribing the wrong medication;
- Giving wrong medical advice;
- Performing the wrong surgery; and
- Reckless handling of a patient’s body.
Can I Sue a Doctor for Newborn Care Malpractice?
The birth of a new baby should be an exciting and special moment. Certain aspects of medical care are crucial to the newborn’s survival, longevity, and long-term health, including:
- Post-delivery observation;
- Care of the newborn; and
- Diagnosis of the newborn.
Any improper or insufficient treatment of any of the newborn’s complications may lead to:
- Long-lasting illness; or
- Detrimental effects, such as:
The unique characteristics of newborns make these types of issues very important. Although newborns have certain natural immunities, each one is particularly fragile, making them more vulnerable to physical injuries from even the slightest mishandling.
In addition, any injuries that occur may potentially be more serious because there is a greater likelihood of long-term detrimental effects. In order to avoid a claim of neonatal malpractice, a healthcare professional should provide the following care for newborns:
- Proper delivery without injury;
- Post-delivery examinations to check for any injuries;
- Careful handling and monitoring to prevent post-delivery injury; and
- Appropriate treatment of injury, if any.
When Can a Doctor Be Held Liable?
Similar to all medical malpractice claims, a medical practitioner may be liable for any injuries that occur as a result of negligence during treatment, or the failure to provide a level of care that meets the standards for their profession or location.
As with all medical malpractice claims, a medical practitioner may be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result of negligence in treatment. A medical practitioner can be liable for:
- Refusing to provide care;
- Failing to request or send a newborn to a specialist as necessary;
- Discharging a newborn while they are at risk or before a sufficient evaluation is completed;
- Delaying treatment due to a failure to detect any problems;
- Failing to convey information;
- Misdiagnosis of injury; or
- Mistreatment for injury.
A hospital or medical organization may be held liable for improper or inadequate personnel or facilities.
How Do I Prove Medical Malpractice?
A medical practitioner is required to provide a level of care that is adequate compared to the general industry’s standard of care. If the failure to meet this standard results in injury to a patient, the practitioner may be found negligent and liable.
Proving that the practitioner’s negligence resulted in injury to a newborn requires proof of the practitioner’s actions and comparison of those actions against testimony of medical experts as to the standard of care expected in the particular case.
What Is Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence involves the incorrect, careless, or negligent treatment of a patient by a medical professional. Medical negligence cases may involve careless behavior on the part of a:
- Dentist; or
- Other medical personnel.
The majority of medical malpractice claims where the plaintiff alleges injury from medical treatment are based on medical negligence. In many cases, the deviation from the minimum standard of care that is required of all medical practitioners results from negligence.
Wounded patients may file a lawsuit against negligent medical providers under the provisions of medical malpractice legislation. This enables patients to seek compensation for the harm that was brought on by their improper behavior.
The exact facts of a case as well as the rules and standards of medical malpractice legislation that are enacted in a given state will determine whether or not a medical professional may be held liable for the injuries the patient sustained. It is important to note that jurisdictions within the same state may have different medical malpractice laws and standards.
The standard of care for medical professionals is the degree of care that a reasonably competent and skilled medical professional with the same or comparable background and practices in the same or a similar medical community would have provided to a patient under the same or similar set of circumstances. All healthcare professionals throughout the United States are required to adhere to this standard.
Depending on the type of medical practitioner and local laws, however, the definition may differ by jurisdiction or may occasionally be altered.
What Are Medical Malpractice Damage Awards?
In medical malpractice cases, the legal remedies that are available typically include a monetary damages award. This is an amount that is meant to reimburse the plaintiff for any losses that were caused by medical malpractice, including:
- Additional hospital bills;
- Lost work wages; or
- Pharmaceutical costs.
There are certain medical malpractice claims that result in considerably high damages awards, especially in cases where the plaintiff suffered serious or egregious bodily damage. Fraudulent medical malpractice lawsuits, however, have been filed with the intent to collect an inflated or over-estimated damage award.
Due to these false claims, numerous states have enacted damage caps on medical malpractice awards. In order to receive damages in a medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff will be required to show medical malpractice occurred by proving the following elements:
- The individual who was responsible for the medical malpractice owed the patient a duty of care that they failed to meet;
- The medical malpractice caused injury of damages to the patient in some way;
- The injuries that were caused by the medical malpractice can be calculated into a specific monetary amount and cannot be remedied in any other manner; and
- The injury did not exist prior to the medical malpractice.
There are 3 different categories of damages that are generally available in a medical malpractice case:
- General damages: General damages compensate for the patient’s costs that they have suffered because of the medical malpractice incident. Common examples of general damages include compensation for:
- Loss of enjoyment of life resulting from the injury;
- Physical or mental pain and suffering; or
- Loss of an individual’s future earning capacity because of the injury;
- Special damages: Special damages, in general, include:
- past medical expenses; and
- future medical bills and expenses; and
- Punitive damages: In some especially serious cases, a patient may recover punitive damages if the medical professional’s actions were willful and malicious;
- Another example of this would be if the doctor knew or should have known that an injury would result from their actions, or lack of action. The availability of punitive damages may vary by state.
Do You Need an Attorney Experienced with Medical Malpractice?
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of medical malpractice, it is important to consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about the value of your case, which parties may be held liable, and what types of damages may be available to you. In many medical malpractice cases, the defendant will attempt to settle the case outside of court.
Your attorney will represent you during any court appearances or negotiations with the other side.