What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice can encompass countless situations, such as:
- a doctor who misdiagnosed an illness or disease;
- a nurse who failed to monitor a patient’s vital signs during surgery;
- medical staff who turned off an alarm on a monitor, inhibiting alerts; and
- hospital staff who ignored a monitor’s alarms.
Simply defined, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider’s actions or inaction deviated from the accepted standard of care – resulting in harm to the patient. Ohio law also entitles a patient to sue healthcare providers for reckless behavior, such as providing treatment while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or neglecting to treat his or her own medical condition (such as an infection) that puts patients at risk.
On the other hand, a worsening condition does not necessarily constitute negligence. As long as your doctor provided the best treatment possible, he or she cannot be held responsible for the progression of a disease. Likewise, you may not file a claim if you suffer from an untreatable condition.
How Do I Know If I Have a Case?
No one can tell you that you have a case until your medical records have been reviewed by a qualified expert and that expert agrees to sign an affidavit attesting that you have a case. A medical malpractice lawyer can advise you of the procedures involved, the obstacles you should expect, and the costs that you will incur. Armed with this information, you will then be able to discuss what the next steps should be and whether or not you should pursue a case.
What Are the Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice?
Some of the most common examples of medical malpractice include:
- Failure to diagnose
- Surgical errors
- Anesthesia mistakes
- Medication errors
- Negligent supervision
- Failure to obtain informed consent
- Hospital-acquired infections
- Emergency room errors
- Delayed treatment
How Do I Prove Medical Malpractice?
In order to file a successful medical malpractice claim, you must prove four elements:
- that your physician or healthcare facility owed you a duty of care;
- that the standard of care was violated;
- that you suffered an injury; and
- that substandard conduct caused your injury.
Although the first element is easy to prove, the other three factors are more difficult and will require the guidance of an attorney who can determine liability and help build your case.
When you meet with your medical malpractice attorney, they will need:
- medical records;
- paperwork, such as bills, from the doctor or hospital in question;
- contact information for all eyewitnesses, such as in the case of nursing home abuse; and
- statements from family and friends who may have pertinent information.
Having this information will make it easier to prove your case. You may also have to enlist the services of an expert witness, who will testify that your damages were, in fact, caused by faulty medical care.
Who Can I Sue for Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider or medical facility injures a patient under his/her/its care.
A healthcare professional can include a:
- hospital employee;
- anesthesiologist; and
- any other type of professional who works in the medical field.
A healthcare facility could include a hospital, clinic, or pharmacy.
What Is the Value of My Case?
In a medical malpractice claim, damages are determined by a number of economic and non-economic factors. Economic damages refer to funds that are awarded to the plaintiff as compensation for direct monetary loss and expenses that were incurred as a result of the defendant’s negligence. These damages also cover funds that the plaintiff is likely to incur in the future.
Non-economic damages, or non-pecuniary losses, apply to those things that cannot be summed up to a specific dollar amount but that cause unquantifiable harm, including:
- pain and suffering;
- emotional duress;
- mental anguish;
- psychological trauma;
- loss of consortium; and
- loss of the enjoyment of life.
Ultimately, the amount of compensation likely to be obtained through a medical malpractice settlement or trial varies based upon the nature and extent of the injuries, whether medical treatment is ongoing or future rehabilitation will be necessary, preexisting conditions, whether there were aggravating circumstances to the doctor’s or caregiver’s conduct, caps on damages, and the jury.
In some instances, punitive damages may be leveled against the medical professional. These are rare, however, because the plaintiff must prove that the doctor knew what he or she was doing was wrong, such as using the wrong medication because it’s less expensive for the hospital or intentionally making a small mistake such as a perforation to necessitate another surgery.
Are There Caps on Damages for Medical Malpractice?
Ohio lawmakers have passed a bill that limits the amount of reimbursement you may recover in a medical malpractice claim. There are two kinds of damages you may pursue: economic and non-economic.
Non-economic damages, including punitive damages, are currently capped at $250,000 per plaintiff or three times the amount of the economic damages, whichever is closer to a maximum of $350,000 per plaintiff and $500,000 per incident.
If you have suffered a catastrophic injury, such as the loss of a limb or an organ, your claim could recover up to $1,000,000 dollars per occurrence. Ohio medical malpractice law delineates certain criteria for what is considered “catastrophic.” An experienced attorney can help you determine whether your case qualifies.
$28.7 Million Verdict for Birth Injury
A child was born with cerebral palsy as a result of oxygen deprivation during birth. Despite the use of a fetal heart monitor, the signs and symptoms of fetal distress were not recognized or acted upon by medical professionals. The family was awarded $28.7 million to provide for future care to their child.