When we see a doctor or are admitted to the hospital, we trust our physicians to recommend and carry out the best course of action for us. We also rely on the physician’s support staff to help ensure that we receive the proper treatment. But you should know that while many procedures and treatments carry a risk of complications or side effects, an unexpected outcome may be the result of a negligent act. When an injured party files a medical malpractice lawsuit, he or she is claiming that a health care provider’s negligent act or failure to act resulted in injury.
According to the most recent statistics available from the U.S. Justice Department, approximately nine out of ten medical malpractice trials involved a plaintiff who claimed that the defendant’s malpractice resulted in death or permanent injury. Further, the Institute of Medicine issued a report indicating that as many as 98,000 patients die each year from preventable medical errors in hospitals. Despite these alarming statistics, recent changes in the law designed to protect health care providers have made malpractice suits difficult to pursue. In fact, the Pennsylvania court system has reported decreases in medical malpractice filings every year since 2005.
Now, more than ever, it is crucial to have a skilled attorney on your side. If you believe that you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, the caring attorneys at Stampone O’Brien Dilsheimer Holloway can help you protect your legal rights. We have the experience and resources necessary to evaluate your case, hire the appropriate experts and take your case to trial.
Who May Be Held Liable for Medical Mistakes
A doctor is probably the first defendant who comes to mind when we think of a medical malpractice action. If a doctor’s conduct is not in line with generally accepted standards of practice, the physician may be held liable for any unfavorable outcome that occurs as a result. In addition, nurses, hospitals, technicians, managed care providers and pharmacists may be sued in a medical malpractice action.
Proving Responsibility in Medical Malpractice Actions
Medical malpractice actions are typically very complex. There are many specialized areas of medicine and various courses of treatment that may be indicated for a given condition. To prove that a health care provider was negligent, an injured party must first show that the health care professional owed him or her a duty of care. The patient might, for example, prove that a doctor/patient relationship existed between the two parties. The injured party would next have to show what level (or “standard”) of care applied to his or her case, and that the health care provider did not meet that standard. The third step in proving the plaintiff’s case would be to demonstrate that the professional’s departure from the standard of care caused the patient’s injury. Finally, the patient would have to show that he or she was in fact injured.
Generally, expert opinions are required at each step of the process. The expert or experts who testify for the plaintiff must practice in the same field as the defendant health care provider in order to provide legally qualified opinions. A skilled attorney from Stampone O’Brien Dilsheimer Holloway can help you secure the appropriate experts to successfully prove your malpractice case.
Types of Claims and Damages
Wrongful death, misdiagnosis, birth injuries, surgical errors, failure to remove surgical instruments and failure to diagnose diseases such as cancer or heart disease are just a few of the medical mistakes that may lead to a lawsuit. Such events may entitle an injured party to compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are awarded for economic (money) and non-economic losses, such as past and future lost wages, medical expenses and pain and suffering. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendants for reckless or wanton conduct that cannot be reasonably justified, thereby deterring any future wrongdoing. They are awarded less frequently than compensatory damages.
Helping You and Your Loved Ones on the Road to Recovery
If you believe that you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, it is important to contact the lawyers of Stampone O’Brien Dilsheimer Holloway immediately. Time is of the essence, as injured patients have a limited window of time in which they may file a lawsuit. It is also important to get copies of all your medical records as quickly as possible.
At Stampone O’Brien Dilsheimer Holloway, we understand that medical errors can cause not only physical but also emotional and financial hardship for patients and their families. We will aggressively protect your rights in seeking a favorable settlement or taking your case to trial. The medical field has the law on its side; you should have us on yours. If you have a question about medical malpractice or need help in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance. Our goal is to make your life easier, every step of the way.
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