Medical Malpractice FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Medical Malpractice & Negligence

If you were injured as the result of medical malpractice and would like to learn more about your rights and options at this juncture, you may find it helpful to obtain more information about this topic. Here, you can find answers to frequently asked questions about medical malpractice. Though there is no substitute for an in-person consultation with a medical malpractice attorney who can directly answer your pressing questions, we have included some common questions and answers to address your basic concerns related to medical malpractice and the many types of negligence and injuries this subject covers.

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a professional in the medical field, whether a doctor, nurse, dentist or surgeon, is negligent, makes a mistake or otherwise fails to provide a standard level of medical care to a patient, and this results in some form of injury to the patient. Administering the wrong medication, for example, may be considered a form of medical malpractice.

How can I determine whether I received substandard care or treatment?

This may be a difficult question to answer without a thorough analysis of your case by a professional investigator and expert in the medical field. That is why we recommend finding a local attorney who can conduct an initial analysis to determine whether a further investigation is warranted. You can then determine how to take legal action against the at-fault party.

What are some of the most common types of medical malpractice?

Medication errors are one of the leading forms of medical malpractice. Additional types of medical malpractice and negligence include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, birth injuries, and emergency room errors. Virtually any mistake or negligence that results in substandard medical care and patient injury may be considered medical malpractice.

What constitutes a surgical error?

A surgical error is a type of medical malpractice committed by a surgeon, nurse or other medical professional in relation to a surgical procedure. The mistake or negligent act may occur before a procedure, during surgery or in the post-operative care of a patient, leading to serious injury or even death. Performing the wrong procedure, perforating an organ or leaving something behind in a patient may all be considered forms of surgical malpractice.

Can I file a lawsuit for malpractice committed by a plastic surgeon?

If you sought cosmetic surgery or reconstructive surgery and suffered serious harm instead of experiencing the benefits that the procedure should have provided, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Plastic surgeons, like other medical professionals, can be held accountable for their failure to provide proper care. These are typically referred to as plastic surgery malpractice claims.

What are some of the common types of medication errors?

There are three primary types of medication errors. A patient may be administered or prescribed the wrong medication, the wrong dose or a medication to which the patient has a known allergy or that will react violently to another medication the patient was already given. In any of these scenarios, a patient may suffer from minor to serious side effects, even death.

My doctor failed to correctly diagnose my medical condition. Can I sue?

Misdiagnosis is a common type of medical malpractice that occurs when a doctor fails to properly diagnose an illness or injury. If you were the victim of a medical misdiagnosis and suffered injury as a result, you may be able to sue the responsible doctor or medical facility. A medical malpractice lawyer can conduct a more thorough analysis of your unique case to determine whether you have grounds for a lawsuit.

If the doctor failed to get my informed consent, do I have a case?

Doctors have an obligation to get a patient's informed consent before performing a medical procedure. The only exception may apply when administering emergency care to a patient who is not in a state to be informed of the options and risks. If your doctor did not inform you of all of your options or failed to inform you of a risk associated with a specific procedure, you may have grounds to sue if this caused you harm of some kind. Because every case is different, you may find it helpful to discuss your unique case with an attorney.

My doctor breached doctor-patient confidentiality. What can I do?

Medical professionals have an obligation to keep medical information pertaining to their patients confidential. If your doctor breached doctor-patient confidentiality and released details about your medical condition or treatment to an unauthorized person, you may be able to sue. A medical malpractice lawyer can review the matter to determine whether you have sufficient grounds to move forward with a case.

Is there a limit to the amount of compensation I can receive?

In a medical malpractice claim, there may be a limit to the amount of financial compensation that you can receive. Certain states have caps on non-economic damages, which are awarded for injuries that cannot easily be considered in financial terms, such as emotional trauma, pain and suffering and loss of consortium. In California, for example, there is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages for medical malpractice claims.

Are all birth injuries caused by medical malpractice or negligence?

By definition, a birth injury is an injury caused before, during or immediately after childbirth. This may include any type of injury, whether it was caused by medical malpractice or was simply unavoidable. If your child has been diagnosed with a birth injury, it is important to work with an attorney to determine whether medical malpractice was the cause.

Is there a time limit by which I must file a medical malpractice claim?

Each state has specific time limits set forth for medical malpractice claims. An injured patient may have a limited amount of time to take legal action, usually from the date that the injury occurred or that the patient discovered or should have reasonably discovered the injury. The length of time you have to file a medical malpractice claim will vary depending on the state in which the incident occurred.

What role will an expert witness play in my case?

Because medical malpractice cases are technical in nature, they generally require the involvement of expert witnesses to prove that substandard medical care was provided and that this was the cause of a patient's injuries. An expert witness must have the proper experience, training and knowledge to ascertain whether an acceptable level of medical care was provided.

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