Medical Malpractice Injuries
Injury from medical malpractice can seem like a vicious circle. You’ve gone to see the physician for a medical problem and instead of helping the physician unintentionally triggers more problems, causing more medical treatment. The main obstacle with medical malpractice injuries is establishing the burden of proof. This requires either the injured party or a representative for the injured party, such as an attorney, to prove one or more of the following:
The medical provider did not follow the accepted standard of care
The medical provider promised that the injury wouldn’t occur
The medical provider did not receive consent from the patient
Breach of Standard Care
A breach of standard care is often the most important thing to prove when it comes to medical malpractice. All medical professionals owe a duty to the patient to comply with the standard of care for their profession. To fulfill that duty the medical professional must exercise the degree of skill, care, and learning expected of a reasonably sensible health care provider. Failure to meet the standard of care may subject a medical professional to liability for damages. The standard of care applies to all persons no matter race, sex, gender, age, or disability. Medical providers that offer services for reduced costs or even for free also have to uphold the same standard of care as a patient who pays full price for treatment.
Medical malpractice cases often use an imagined person, known as the “reasonable person”, to assess whether or not the care provided to the injured party was in fact a breach of standard care – was the care that was provided what a reasonable peer would do? If a medical malpractice case goes to trial, expert witnesses (oftentimes similar medical providers to the defendant) are brought in to explain medical procedures and standards to the jury.
Breach of Promise
A breach of a promise can be difficult to prove in medical malpractice. If a medical provider promises that he or she will either cure you or ease your symptoms, etc., and then does not do so, a breach of promise occurs. Likewise, if a medical provider promises that treating you won’t cause further injury yet it does, that is considered malpractice.
These days medical providers are very careful what they promise, if they promise anything at all. Promises can be written contracts or even verbal. However, verbal promises unfortunately come down to a he said/she said problem in court.
Failure to Secure Informed Consent
A health care provider has a legal duty to inform the patient of all material facts relating to the proposed treatment including the risks and alternatives so that a reasonably sensible patient can make an informed decision regarding whether to consent to treatment. A provider’s failure to inform the patient of relevant facts, risks, and alternatives may subject the provider to liability for damages if the treatment causes harm.
In most medical settings, medical providers give patients consent forms to sign. These are usually presented to the patient after going over possible risks and complications. Once the patient, if deemed competent, signs these forms it is enough to show that the patient gave and the medical provider obtained informed consent. These forms should list in plain terms the nature of the proposed treatment, expected results from treatment, alternative forms of treatment, and serious possible risks, complications, and benefits. It’s important to note that a medical provider can also verbally list the above and have the patient sign a shorter document indicating the patient listened to and understood the medical provider.
Medical Injury Statistics
Being a physician seems like a pretty safe and secure profession, yet it is one of the most sued professions for malpractice. Over half of physicians age 55 or older have been sued at some point during their career. However, 67% of the medical malpractice cases that end up going to litigation result in the court ruling in favor of the medical provider instead of the injured party. Yet of the medical malpractice cases that do win, the total settlement is higher on average than any other type of tort case.
It is clear that medical malpractice cases are difficult. However, an experienced medical malpractice attorney that knows what to look for and with whom to consult can let you know if your medical malpractice case is viable.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
As with most legal cases, medical malpractice comes with a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Washington State is typically three (3) years. During a medical malpractice lawsuit, your attorney will gather your medical records from the time of the injury and go through them. Medical records are easily the easiest way to prove whether or not medical malpractice occurred since the written provider notes are concrete evidence for or against said provider. However, medical records are not the only avenues to winning a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Your attorney will also contact similar providers to get their opinions. Your attorney may ask the similar provider for his or her opinion on any breaches of care, promise, or consent. Your attorney may also have a medical expert take a second look at your medical records to find any negligence. It’s important to remember when dealing with medical malpractice lawsuits that bad or unexpected outcomes from medical treatment do not necessarily mean that malpractice or negligence occurred.
Finding a Medical Malpractice Attorney
The Advocates are experienced medical malpractice attorneys who can help if you’ve been injured by a medical provider. We work tirelessly on medical malpractice cases to make sure that our clients receive the most compensation. We will be there for you through every step of the process. We like to check in with our clients to make sure they are getting the treatment they need to get better.
The Advocates work on contingency, meaning we won’t see a dime until we obtain compensation for you. If you think you have a medical malpractice case, don’t hesitate to call us. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys are available day or night to help you with your claim. Give us a call today!