If a doctor or nurse fails to provide proper medical care in the way a responsible medical professional would, it’s known as medical malpractice. There are a large variety of medical malpractice cases, based on the degree of negligence or recklessness, that a patient can claim in a lawsuit.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
- Misdiagnosis - A doctor in a hospital fails to recognize cardiac tamponade in a 63-year-old man and the lack of diagnosis or treatment leads to his death.
- Delayed Diagnosis - A medical professional gives a delayed diagnosis of a bowel obstruction and the delay causes the patient’s wrongful death.
- Childbirth Injuries - An obstetrician fails to perform a C-section in a timely manner, resulting in serious injuries to the baby.
- Medication Errors - Negligence by a physician or nurse causes a fatal overdose of Vitamin K.
- Anesthesia Errors - An anesthesiologist gives the wrong amount of anesthesia to a patient, resulting in brain damage.
- Surgery Errors - A surgeon injures a 37-year-old with a bone saw, causing permanent scarring and neuropathy.
One of the most common recurring themes in all of these forms of medical malpractice is negligence. Negligence comes in many forms and in many different types of severity, and that level of severity will determine how much you can possibly win in compensation.
Negligence is defined as the failure to act with the same amount of care that a reasonable medical professional would have acted within the same situation. This has to be the direct reason for your injury for it to be a medical malpractice case.
Here’s a clear example of negligence: You bring your son into the doctor’s office to look at a deep laceration he just got while playing outside with his friends. The doctor calls him into the examination room, but is distracted and rushed from having so many patients that day. Unfazed by the depth of the wound, he says it needs just a few stitches. In doing this, he instinctively takes tools near him from a table - but unbeknownst to him, these tools had just been used to treat an infection. In addition, this decision goes against the policy to only use tools that were sterilized and in drawers.
A few days after this doctor visit, your son feels pain, gets sicker, and has a clear discoloration around the cut. His laceration is now infected, requiring hospitalization and extensive treatment. The doctor denies any and all responsibility for this infection.
This is a clear case of negligence from the description, but it also relates to the four elements of negligence. These are duty, breach, injury, and damages.
Duty: With a doctor/patient relationship established, the doctor now has a responsibility to give that patient reasonable care in their treatment, which includes following basic, standard guidelines followed by the community. In this case, the doctor’s duty was to perform a thorough examination of the child’s laceration, and treat it the way other doctors would under similar conditions.
Breach: If reasonable care and standard medical guidelines are not followed, then the duty has been breached by the doctor. Here, the doctor’s decision to use tools on the table breached his medical office’s protocol, and breached his doctor/patient relationship by using unsanitized tools to place your son at risk of infection.
Injury: For the doctor’s breach of duty to lead to negligent medical malpractice, an injury must be sustained by the wronged party. In this case, your attorney will need to prove that your son’s infection was caused by the unsterilized tools.
Damages: The injury must cause the victim to have suffered damages, whether they are economic or non-economic. Your son required hospitalization, and the subsequent medical bills were substantial. You may have also had to miss time at work to tend to your son.
In addition to simple negligence, there is also gross negligence. Gross negligence takes the idea of negligence a step further - the breach of duty was much worse in these cases, where the failure to provide reasonable care goes beyond medical standards and would have been obvious to anyone.
An example of this would be to imagine that you are someone who needs immediate surgery after a car accident causes severe trauma to your left arm. The surgeon, however, in his carelessness, checked your chart believing you were a different patient, one who needed their right arm amputated. The right arm gets amputated instead of the left arm receiving treatment.
These examples are admittedly very clear cut. There is a lot to consider in a medical malpractice case - just because an injury occurred while under the care of a medical professional does not mean an individual has a guaranteed medical malpractice lawsuit on their hands. There are ways in which many people think they have a medical malpractice suit, but it turns out to not be the case; it is important to understand your situation.
Do You Have a Case?
Just because a patient suffers an injury while under the care and attention of a doctor, it does not automatically mean the individual has a medical malpractice suit against the healthcare professional.
- Before surgery, patients are given warnings of the risks involved in a procedure. The patient must understand the risks and authorize the surgery, meaning that those risk factors would not be grounds for a medical malpractice case.
- If a patient receives instructions after their surgery about what to do for follow-up care, they must follow it. If they fail to follow these instructions, and an injury occurs as a result, they will likely not have a medical malpractice suit.
The physician’s negative actions and breach of their duties must be the direct cause of your injury. If it isn’t, it’s very likely you will have a medical malpractice lawsuit that can prevail.
Recent Medical Malpractice Cases We’ve Won
Here are just a few examples of various medical malpractice cases Morgan & Morgan have been involved in, and the compensation we have won for our clients:
- An obstetrician in Hillsborough County in Florida failed to perform a C-section in a timely manner, resulting in serious injuries to the baby, and the family won a verdict of $38,750,000.
- The failure of a timely diagnosis or treatment of encephalitis resulted in a $28,500,000 verdict with the help of Armando Lauritano, one of Morgan & Morgan’s medical malpractice lawyers in Tampa.
- A 26-week-old premature newborn endured a medication overdose in a hospital in Fort Myers, Florida. The family received a verdict of $19,200,000.
- A delayed diagnosis of a 40-year-old patient’s rectal cancer caused it to spread. This resulted in permanent colostomy and removing part of her liver. The resulting verdict was $9,278,000.
- Our Orlando attorneys helped a family received an $8.6 million settlement after medical professionals in Seminole County, Florida failed to diagnose a 5-year-old girl with tuberculosis meningitis.
- After a claim that a doctor missed and failed to treat a woman’s heart disease that leads to a cardiac arrest and permanent vegetative state, Our attorneys in Daytona Beach secured a $6,330,000 verdict.
- A botched procedure involving a large ethanol injection caused a child’s face and nose to deteriorate, requiring skin from his forehead and ear to repair it. Bryan Smith, a Memphis attorney, used visuals to demonstrate what should have happened and what went wrong, netting the family a $1.97 million verdict.