Every year thousands of hospital deaths in the United States are due to potentially preventable medical errors. Your choice of attorney to represent your interests during a medical malpractice case could mean the difference between successful negotiations or expensive, ongoing litigation. Call today to schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney who can provide a clear explanation of your legal rights and options.
Expert testimony can be critical to establishing causation in medical malpractice cases. When you are pursuing a medical malpractice claim, an attorney who has regularly advised and represented clients in medical malpractice litigation can help you to prepare a strong case. To learn more about our legal services, contact our firm to schedule a consultation and case evaluation with an experienced personal injury attorney.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Malpractice
Q: What is medical malpractice?
A: Medical malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, hospital worker or hospital, whose treatment of a patient departs from a standard of care met by those with similar training and experience, resulting in harm to a patient.
Q: Does someone who is not satisfied with the results of his or her surgery have a malpractice case?
A: In general, there are no guarantees of medical results, and unexpected or unsuccessful results do not necessarily mean negligence occurred. To succeed in a medical malpractice case, a plaintiff has to show an injury or damages that resulted from the doctor's deviation from the standard of care applicable to the procedure.
Medical Malpractice - An Overview
Medical malpractice occurs when a negligent act or omission by a doctor or other medical professional results in damage or harm to a patient. Negligence by a medical professional could include an error in diagnosis, treatment or illness management. If such negligence results in injury to a patient, a case could arise against the doctor if his or her actions deviated from generally accepted standards of practice; against the hospital for improper care, such as problems with medications, sanitation or nursing care; or against local, state or federal agencies that operate hospital facilities.
Medical malpractice laws are designed to protect patients' rights to compensation if they are injured as the result of negligence. However, malpractice suits are often complex and costly to win. While theoretically you can seek compensation for any injury caused by negligence, regardless of its seriousness, time and money make it unrealistic to sue for an injury that is minor or heals quickly. Therefore, if you believe you have a medical malpractice claim, it is important to consult with an attorney at Rheingold, Valet, Rheingold, Ruffo & Giuffra LLP in New York, NY, who can help you determine whether your claim is worth pursuing.
Understanding Informed Consent
In many situations where medical care or treatment is provided to an individual, medical professionals are required to obtain the patient's "informed consent." Although the specific definition of informed consent may vary from state to state, it means essentially that the patient has made a knowing decision about a medical treatment or procedure after a doctor or other health care professional discloses all the information a reasonably prudent medical provider would give to a patient regarding the risks involved in the proposed treatment or procedure. If the health care provider fails to obtain informed consent, the patient may have a legal claim for damages.
Responsible Parties in Medical Malpractice Actions
Medical malpractice is not limited to medical doctors. It applies also to nurses, dentists, osteopaths, health care facilities and others providing health care services, such as nursing homes.
Proving Your Case - Causation
To establish a case for medical malpractice, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff, that the defendant failed to meet the standard of care owed to the plaintiff, that the mistake actually caused the plaintiff's injury and that the doctor or other medical professional's negligence damaged the plaintiff. Proof of causation can be a difficult issue in a medical malpractice case. For one thing, the injuries generally involved in medical malpractice cases require specific medical training to understand, and the normal plaintiff may not know the cause of such injuries.
Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases
Damages are a critical element of a medical malpractice case, and the plaintiff cannot recover damages for injuries that did not result from the doctor's conduct. Therefore, the plaintiff must establish a causal connection or link between the plaintiff's injury and the doctor's negligence. Generally, there are two types of damages available to a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case: compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Medical Malpractice Resource Links
National Patient Safety Foundation
The NPSF website features information about patient safety.
U.S. Agency for Health Care Research & Quality
Provides information and links about patient safety, tips for patients and other general health information.
Medical Liability/Medical Malpractice Laws
A chart summarizing state medical malpractice laws, provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Medical Malpractice News
Medical malpractice news provided by the American Association for Justice.