We trust our health care providers to give competent medical care when we are sick or injured. In most cases, these expectations are met. But not all doctors are competent, and even competent doctors make mistakes.
Doctors frequently fail to diagnose disease, or they give improper treatment, or they fail to warn patients of known risks that follow from prescribed course of care. When these things happen, the doctor may have committed medical malpractice.
Contact Ventura Law if you or a family member may have been harmed as a result of medical malpractice. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys will thoroughly investigate your case to determine if you have a legal right to compensation for your damages.
Because medical malpractice claims are subject to strict statutes of limitation, it is vital that you seek legal advice promptly after suffering an adverse medical outcome.
Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim
Unfortunately, medical malpractice is common.
A 2016 study published by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that in the United States 250,000 deaths each year are caused by medical errors, making health care provider error the third leading cause of death in this country.
Another disappointing statistic: In a 2015 study conducted by the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Anaesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine, researchers found that medication was improperly used in half of all surgeries at one particular hospital, and that one-third of these incidents resulted in harm to the patient.
Not all medical errors amount to medical malpractice. In order to establish a medical malpractice claim, the injured patient must prove:
- Doctor-patient relationship. The person who committed the medical error must be someone who owed a “duty of care” toward the injured patient.
- Negligence. A medical professional is negligent if he or she fails to follow the “standard of care” that a competent doctor would have followed under the same circumstances. Doctors do not have to be perfect, but they do have to be reasonably skillful and careful.
- Negligence caused harm. The patient must demonstrate that the doctor’s negligence probably caused the patient’s injuries.
- Patient harm resulted in damages. The final piece of the puzzle is proof of damages. The patient must demonstrate that the doctor’s incompetence caused damages. In a typical malpractice case, patients are able to obtain compensation for medical bills, lost wages and diminished earning capacity, plus physical pain and mental anguish (“pain and suffering”).
Ventura Law’s experienced medical malpractice attorneys can provide a free consultation to help you decide if you or a family member has an actionable medical malpractice claim.
Common Malpractice Claims
Medical practice claims can be reduced to three broad categories of professional error:
- Failure to diagnose medical problems. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that improper diagnosis happens in 10-20 percent of doctor-patient interactions. Improper diagnosis — either by failure to diagnose or by incorrect diagnosis — is the leading driver of medical malpractice claims. Failures to diagnose heart attack, breast cancer, appendicitis, lung cancer, and colon cancer have all led to catastrophic outcomes for patients.
- Improper treatment. This can occur when a doctor resorts to treatments that no reasonable doctor would consider, or if the doctor incompetently delivers a medically appropriate treatment.
- Failure to warn a patient of known risks. Prior to undergoing a course of treatment or surgical procedure, a patient is asked to give consent to the recommended medical intervention. Consent must be “informed consent,” meaning that the doctor must first warn the patient of all known risks. If a doctor fails to warn the patient of such risks and the patient is subsequently injured by a known-but-unwarned risk, then the doctor may have committed malpractice.
Ventura Law can help medical patients sort through the complicated life choices that follow an adverse medical outcome, including the exploration of a possible medical malpractice claim.
Life’s Most Vulnerable Moments
Childbirth injuries and nursing home abuse are forms of medical malpractice that affect patients at their most vulnerable moments — the beginning and end stages of life.
A birth injury leaves a legacy of financial hardship as well as heartache and emotional loss. Parents whose baby was injured during childbirth face increased medical costs, a lifetime’s worth of treatment and rehabilitation expenses, increased education costs, costs for providing a nurse or caretaker, and the nearly incalculable damage to the lives of the entire family.
Some of the more common sources of medical malpractice during childbirth are:
- Delays in performing a cesarean section;
- Improper use of forceps during delivery;
- Improper placement and use of vacuum device during delivery;
- Failure to detect and remediate hypoxia (lack of oxygen to baby’s brain);
- Improper pre-natal care;
- Improper treatment of high-risk patients;
As with any other form of medical malpractice, an injured patient must demonstrate that the medical care provided fell below the standard that a competent doctor would have provided under similar circumstances.
If your child was injured during birth, contact Ventura Law for a sympathetic but thorough discussion of your legal options. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys will meet with you, free of charge, to discuss how you can move forward in your lives following a birth injury to your child.
Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home and assisted living facilities have a legal duty to provide care for elderly residents in a manner that conforms to industry standards and best practices. Unfortunately, abuse and neglect of the elderly at nursing homes is a fact of life. Some experts say that elder abuse is as prevalent as child abuse.
Elder abuse can take the form of financial exploitation, physical abuse, neglect by a caregiver, and emotional abuse. “Neglect” means the failure to provide the food, clothing, medicine, shelter, supervision, and medical care and services that a prudent person would deem essential for the well-being of another.
When abuse and neglect take place in a nursing home setting, their causes are typically understaffing, negligent hiring of caregivers, and inadequate training of nursing home personnel.
Families who take action against abusive nursing homes can not only obtain compensation for their elderly relative’s injuries, but they can also put a stop to abuse and neglect of other residents at the facility.
If your elderly family member has suffered injury or death while under the care of a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact Ventura Law for a full explanation of your legal rights.
Ventura Law will make sure that all responsible parties are held accountable while we work for full and fair compensation. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve so you can begin to move forward with your life. Ventura Law takes all cases on a contingency basis, so you owe us nothing unless we recover compensation for you.
Contact Us Today
If you or a family member has suffered from medical errors or abuse at a nursing home or assisted care facility, you may have a claim for compensation. Please call us today at 203.800.8000 for more information.