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MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

ARE YOU A VICTIM OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?

Medical Malpractice can include:

  • Dental Malpractice 
  • Failure to Diagnose 
  • Surgical Errors
  • Hospital-related Infections 
  • Wrongful Death 
  • Hospital and Nursing Home Accidents 
  • Nursing Home Abuse 

Doctors are important and necessary for our health. Over the centuries they gave us cures for deadly diseases, helped us to extend our lives, and gave us reassurance when we were concerned about our health. 

Like every human being however, doctors, medical assistants, and hospital workers do make mistakes. Unfortunately, their mistakes can result in incapacity or death. A medical malpractice case is intended to compensate patients who have been seriously injured by a medical mistake.  

In order to win a medical malpractice case, you must prove that your injury resulted from your medical professional deviating from the standard of care, that their departure from the standard of care caused or contributed to your injuries, and that your injuries are permanent and significant.   

Medical malpractice is difficult to prove. Most cases cannot be proved without a medical witness who will testify on your behalf. Doctors and hospitals vigorously fight these claims. These cases are very expensive to litigate, so attorneys are very selective in the cases that they take. Still, there are legitimate cases that are worth the fight.  You need an attorney with a knowledgeable team of experts to evaluate your case, and take it to trial if necessary.  

MEDICAL MALPRACTICE IS ON THE RISE

The healthcare profession has always been busy, but perhaps never more so than today.  Many medical professionals average 60 to 70 hours per week and face not only stress, but sleep deprivation.  Although Pennsylvania’s hospitals are some of the finest in the world, over 80% of all malpractice claims in the state are for medical care that is delivered in hospitals.  In fact, in 2001, over 5,000 Pennsylvanians who were hospitalized experienced an adverse medical event (e.g., foreign object left in their body after surgery, accidental laceration, medication error, etc.) during their hospital stay.   

According to Jury Verdict Research, Marsh Inc., and Risk Management Foundation, the ten most common causes of medical malpractice lawsuits against hospitals are medication errors, diagnosis failures, negligent supervision, delayed treatment, failure to obtain consent, lack of proper credentialing, unexpected death, wound infections, pain and suffering, and lack of teamwork.   

WHAT ARE THE TOP CAUSES OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?

Reason #1: Medication Errors 

An increasingly common form of medical malpractice involves medication errors.  Medication errors include instances where patients allege they were given the wrong medication, the wrong dose, incorrect combinations of medications, medication to which the patient is allergic, medication in the wrong form or place, at the wrong time, or not given their medication at all.  Medication errors also occur when pharmacists filling a prescription give patients the incorrect medicines.  

Reason #2: Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose an Illness 

This is a common claim, especially in cancer treatment.  Diagnosis failures are defined as instances where patients claim an incorrect diagnosis delayed their treatment or resulted in improper treatment.  This most frequent claims happen in emergency rooms, but it also crops up on med-surgical floors and in radiology when reading X-rays.  Medical tests are very costly, and many times misdiagnosis occurs when tests are skipped altogether as a result of pressure from insurance companies trying to save money.  Other times, misdiagnosis occurs when data from test results are misread or simply overlooked.  Medical professionals often fail to identify and diagnose a patient for illness and when this happens, it may lead to irreversible damage to the patient’s health and well-being.  

Reason #3: Negligent Supervision 

Essentially, these types of cases include those where patients allege they were injured when their activities, or the activities of fellow patients, were not adequately monitored.  Often times this claim is brought against teaching hospitals where medical students and residents are mistakenly assumed to be stand-ins for attending physicians.  Dangerous predicaments arise when a rogue, overconfident trainee attempts to resolve a problem without adequate supervision.  To a lesser extent, this may involve physician assistants and nurse practitioners as well.  

Reason #4: Delayed Treatment 

This usually involves situations in which patients claim their treatment was unnecessarily or unreasonably delayed.  Roughly 1/3 of the patients that make this claim against a hospital win at trial.  

Reason #5: Failure to Obtain Consent 

Medical professionals are required to provide their patients with adequate information so that they may make informed decisions about their treatment.  Unfortunately, this does not always occur and a patient will contend that they were not given adequate information prior to undergoing a procedure or agreeing to a certain course of treatment.  A tragic, yet typical example, involves a patient who dies from anesthesia, and his family claims no one spoke to them about risks.  According to recent surveys, only 26% of cases of this nature are successful at trial.  

Reason #6: Lack of Proper Technical Skill or Credentialing 

As you can guess, this claim is made when a doctor attempts to perform a procedure or surgery for which he or she has little experience or inadequate skill.  You might see this with bariatric or certain cosmetic surgeries.  When this occurs, the most common result is organ perforation.   

Reason #7: Unexpected Death 

Doctors should always take thorough patient histories that include past medical treatments, recent life events and any medications, including herbal or over-the counter drugs that are being taken.  Unfortunately, this is not always done and patients can die due to an allergic reaction to medication. 

Reason #8: Wound Infections, Fractures and Bleeding 

It is critical that operating rooms in hospitals maintain a sterile environment during surgeries to prevent infection.  Yet, it is estimated that 2 million U.S. patients acquire infections in hospitals each year, and about 90,000 of these patients die as a result.  Blood transfusion-related injuries are also common, particularly when patients are given the wrong blood type in emergency situations.  Additionally, patients are also injured when they attempt to leave their beds without assistance, allowed to move about while highly medicated, or when they are injured by another unattended patient.  Of all types of malpractices cases, these are typically the most successful for patients; they have a 45% chance of winning at trial.   

Reason #9: Pain and Suffering or Emotional Distress 

Sometimes patients have unrealistic expectations about the outcome of their surgery or how quickly they will be able to recover.  This may manifest itself in as something as serious as unexpected paralysis, or something as “benign” as the inability to quickly resume normal activities such as driving.  As a result, their relationships may be unexpectedly stressed.   

Reason #10: Lack of Teamwork or Communication 

This is prevalent in surgical and obstetrical areas because different staff members monitor patients over time.  One staff member may see worrisome signs or signs of distress, but possibly fail to make his or her colleagues aware of them.  This is also common when patients are transferred from one doctor to another, or from one hospital to another.  The most common scenario is that of a woman who is in labor and hospitalized for the delivery of her baby and is ignored or forgotten about until there is crisis and the mother or child are injured as a result of being ignored by the staff.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE CONSULTATION TODAY

Pachtman Law Office can help you evaluate your potential medical malpractice claim. We consult with a network of medical and legal experts who concentrate in evaluating medical malpractice cases. We are dedicated to helping injured people get the compensation they deserve.  Because the law limits the time you have to file a lawsuit, please call or contact us as soon as possible so you do not lose your right to pursue a claim. 

If you have a legal problem or questions, you don’t have to come into our office. We offer free phone consultations. Please call us at 610-859-3700 or email us and talk to an experienced Philadelphia lawyer today.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a medical mistake, contact us today.

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If you have a legal problem, call Pachtman Law Offices now for a FREE no-obligation phone consultation on ANY TYPE OF LEGAL PROBLEM. If we don’t handle the matter, we'll find someone for you who will.

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