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. Medical malpractice laws are designed to protect a patient’s right to pursue compensation if they are injured as the result of the negligence of a medical professional. Medical malpractice is a serious situation in which a patient suffers an injury or disability due to substandard care at the hands of a doctor or other healthcare provider. In the most severe medical malpractice cases, patients may die as the result of the malpractice, making them the victim of a wrongful death. Medical science is not exact, and there are some inherent risks in receiving medical care. However, there are many different instances which are considered medical malpractice. If you believe you have a medical malpractice claim, it is important to consult with a Sacramento medical malpractice attorney well-versed in medical malpractice law in order to have the best chance of maximizing your recovery.
Medical malpractice cases have recently become more common in the United States. In fact there are close to 100,000 medical malpractices claims filed each year by injured patients against doctors, medical specialists, nurses, hospitals, and other healthcare providers. This is clearly a significant problem and the amount of medical malpractice in California and other states is becoming a crisis. When medical professionals fail to provide a reasonable standard of care, the results can be devastating for patients and their families with catastrophic injuries (including organ failure, brain and spinal cord injury) and even death.
A medical malpractice claim must be filed within a certain amount of time legally prescribed by the state where the incident occurred, called a statute of limitations. In California, the statute of limitations requires that medical malpractice claims be brought within three years after the date of injury, or one year after the plaintiff discovers the injury, whichever occurs first. If you have been a victim of medical malpractice it is important that you speak with our Sacramento medical malpractice attorneys as soon as possible to discuss your options and how to proceed.
When the Sacramento medical malpractice attorneys at the Crow Law Offices are retained to help a victim seek compensation, we deal with any insurance adjusters or insurance companies on your behalf so that you don’t have to, take phone calls and receive correspondence on your behalf, prove up your damages so that you can be fairly compensated for your injury, procure expert medical witnesses to testify on your behalf, help you seek proper medical attention if necessary, thoroughly investigate your Sacramento medical malpractice claim in order to gather all the essential evidence to help prove your case, get the defendants to negotiate a fair settlement offer so that you may not have to step foot in court and work to defend your case in court if a trial is necessary. If you have reason to believe that your injury or illness was the result of medical malpractice in Sacramento or elsewhere in California, contact the Sacramento medical malpractice lawyers at the Crow Law Offices at our toll-free number, 1-877-673-CROW (2769), for a free and confidential legal consultation.
Most people assume that the only liable party in a medical malpractice civil suit is the medical professional that performed the surgery, or provided the drug, or, essentially, was the direct cause of the accident causing injury or death. While that person or entity is a proper defendant, they are often not the only liable party.
There are basically 3 types of medical malpractice: misdiagnosis, errors during a procedure, and choosing not to treat a condition. Often times, a medical malpractice claim is actually some combination of these things. Misdiagnosis happens when the doctor chooses not to follow the rules of what they call the differential diagnosis. Under this rule, the doctor is supposed to consider every possible conclusion from his/her patient's symptoms. All over the world, doctors are trained that the standard of care is the minimum which they have to do for each and every patient is to consider all of the possibilities from the symptoms. When choosing what to treat, the doctor should choose the safest alternative. Failure to treat a condition can also occur because the staff, nurses and others in a hospital choose not to follow the hospital safety rules. There is a standard of care for what to do before, during, and after a procedure (a test or a surgery). Before any surgery, there should be a clearance or series of tests administered by an internal or family practitioner, or general practitioner. During surgery there are also rules to follow, that is a standard of care. These rules define what is reasonable. If the doctor chooses not to follow these rules, he or she is choosing not to do what is reasonable.
Medical negligence includes errors in diagnosis, treatment, and illness management. If such errors cause injury to a patient, a medical malpractice case can be brought against a doctor if his or her actions deviated from generally accepted standards of practice, or against a hospital for improper care, such as problems with medications, sanitation or nursing care.
Failure to diagnose a condition may also give rise to a medical malpractice claim. Many medical malpractice claims involve the failure of a doctor to recognize a health problem such that missing it leads to additional harm for the patient. Doctors can also commit medical malpractice by diagnosing the wrong condition. When this occurs, the treatment for the wrong condition can actually make matters worse for the patient.
A common and often serious claim for medical malpractice results from surgical errors. Some of the surgical errors, such as amputating the wrong limb or leaving a surgical instrument inside a patient can cause lasting and devastating injuries to the patient. Other causes of medical malpractice include: Lack of informed consent, anesthesia errors, obstetric/labor and delivery surgical injuries, improperly prescribed, dispensed or filled medication and patient neglect and nursing home abuse.
Some of the more common types of medical malpractice injuries include: Brain or spinal cord injury, birth injuries such as cerebral palsy and brachial plexus palsy, failure to diagnose a disease, or a delayed diagnosis resulting in the worsening of the condition, surgical error, post-surgical infection, and prescription drug errors.
Most malpractice cases proceed under the theory that a professional was negligent in treating the patient. To establish medical negligence, you must prove:
Physicians and other medical care providers are not usually legally required to disclose to patients that they have been injured by care that is below professional standards. Thus, in most medical malpractice cases, an attorney or other third party must be brought in to make this determination.
One of the most important aspects to establish in a medical malpractice action is the standard of care to be applied to the professional. To establish the standard to be applied to the health care provider, a plaintiff must present expert testimony from someone qualified in the same area of medicine as the defendant. The expert must testify to the level of care that is required by those recognized in the profession as being competent and qualified to practice. The plaintiff must present expert testimony describing the applicable standard of care and also establishing that the defendant failed to meet that standard. Essentially, a doctor is held to a much higher standard of care than a regular, untrained person is due to their specialized profession and training. These expert witnesses, to truly be beneficial to Sacramento medical malpractice claims, must have experience in the same field of medicine as the defendant.
Another element of medical malpractice actions that can be challenging to establish is causation. Specifically, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s deviation from the applicable standard of care resulted in injury. This is an area where expert witnesses are essential.
At the Crow Law Offices, our Sacramento Medical Malpractice Attorneys understand how difficult it is for those who have suffered from medical malpractice. We will determine whether you have a medical malpractice claim, and give you an honest evaluation of the probable outcome. Our lawyers aggressively investigate and pursue claims for catastrophic injuries and death due to medical malpractice, not only to seek compensation for our client but also to protect future patients of the same health care professional.
Medical malpractice can be committed by several types of health care professionals. It is not limited to medical doctors. It applies also to nurses, chiropractors, dental hygienists, anesthesiologists, nursing home attendants, pharmacists, dentists, osteopaths, psychiatrists, health care facilities and others providing health care services, such as nursing homes. In addition, hospitals, clinics, laboratories, lab technicians, pharmacies, pharmacy technicians, medical equipment providers, and pharmaceutical companies may be included in a medical malpractice lawsuit. In a case where a hospital employee commits malpractice, the hospital itself may be held liable under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior. Under this theory, an employer may be held liable for the negligent acts of its employee if the employee was working when the negligent act or omission occurred. In some situations, commonly involving attending physicians working in hospitals, health care providers are considered independent contractors rather than employees, which makes the doctrine of respondeat superior inapplicable. In this situation, if a doctor or other health care professional is an independent contractor and commits malpractice while treating a patient in a hospital, the hospital cannot be held liable for the doctors negligence. However, the hospital can be held liable for its own negligence, for example, in granting attending privileges to an unlicensed or incompetent physician.
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 a physician (or other medical provider) must tell a patient of all the potential benefits, risks, and alternatives involved in any surgical procedure, medical procedure, or other course of treatment, and must obtain the patients written consent to proceed. If the health care provider fails to obtain informed consent, the patient may have a legal claim for damages. A consent form, however, does not release from liability a physician who was negligent in performing a medical procedure. If you can establish that your doctor deviated from the applicable standard of care in performing the procedure, and you were injured as a result, you may still recover against him/her.
While an informed consent document may appear harmless, as it often describes the procedure being performed, possible complications, alternatives to the surgery, and what may happen if the procedure is not performed. The document also serves as a safeguard should an accident occur during the procedure. Many medical professionals attempt to use an informed consent document to exonerate themselves from any type of liability in the event of an accident. However, the existence of a patient’s signature on an informed consent document does not determine whether or not a negligent medical professional can be held accountable for their actions.
Damages are the legal term for financial losses incurred as a result of an injury or loss. The party responsible for the injury or loss owes nothing to the victim unless they are compelled to award compensation to the victim through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Damages must have been incurred in some fashion by a plaintiff due to the injury sustained as a result of medical malpractice. Damages can be sought for economic losses such as medical costs, lost wages, lost future earnings, and pain and suffering. Calculating damages is an important aspect to a Sacramento medical malpractice claim. There is a cap on pain and suffering of up to $250,000 in medical malpractice cases that a California plaintiff may also recover to compensate for general or non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. These caps have a significant effect in some cases because they can severely limit what a plaintiff may recover. If you or someone you love has suffered as a result of medical malpractice, a Sacramento medical malpractice attorney from the Crow Law Offices can help you obtain compensation for the damages to fix what can be fixed and help what can be helped.
MICRA is an abbreviation for Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975. In 1975 the California Supreme Court by a slim majority recognized the constitutionality of MICRA. What MICRA means is that California victims of medical malpractice must, under certain circumstances, accept periodic payment of their damages over time, that errant doctors (and their insurance companies) do not have to pay for the medical bills incurred by the plaintiff, as long as the plaintiff had insurance which covered him/her, that the court has capped the attorney’s fees an attorney may earn and lastly (contrary to years of law throughout the United States which held that a wrongdoer should not benefit simply because the person s/he injures has the wherewithal to maintain an insurance policy), a cap was placed on the amount the injured victim could recover for emotional distress, pain and suffering , and other non-economic damages to $250,000. Remarkably, this damage cap, or limitation, has not gone up in the twenty-five years since MICRA was enacted by the legislature.
If you are a member of Kaiser, you generally cannot sue Kaiser doctors or Kaiser hospitals. Instead your claim will be sent to arbitration. The reason for this is that when you first became a Kaiser patient, you were asked to sign an agreement giving up your right to sue Kaiser for any possible malpractice. This does not mean, however, that you cannot recover fair and appropriate compensation for the harm you have suffered. Unlike a traditional lawsuit, in which a jury hears your case and gives verdict, in a Kaiser arbitration your case will be decided by a panel of one to three experts known as arbitrators. Selecting a fair arbitration panel is an important step in the process. After a hearing, the arbitrator(s) will give an award just as a judge or jury would.
Each year throughout the US, nearly 100,000 people suffer injuries or die as a result of medical malpractice. According to a hospital study by Harvard University, more than 1 million people suffer injuries each year as a result of mistakes caused by doctors, anesthesiologists, residents, nurses, technicians and malfunctioning medical devices. A study by the Institutes of Medicine recently found that medication errors occur on average once a day to every hospital patient, resulting in serious injuries and thousands of patient deaths
Despite the efforts of the health care industry to depict the problem as one of runaway lawsuits rather than runaway poor health care, the statistics show that every patient is significantly at risk: One in five Americans have suffered from medical mistreatment either personally or as a family member of a victim. Medical malpractice accounts for a significant percentage of the more than 100,000 people who die and the 2 million who are disabled each year due to complications in medical care.