Patients place an enormous amount of trust in medical professionals and when that trust is broken by negligence or carelessness, the results can be devastatingly painful, costly, and time-consuming.
Doctors, nurses, medical specialists, hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare providers have an obligation to provide care that meets clear standards. The standard of care is measured by the way other members in the profession would act under similar circumstances. If a medical professional fails to meet the standard of care, he or she is considered negligent and can be liable for malpractice.
If medical negligence has caused your injury, disfigurement, or other harm, contact The Bishop Law Group today online or at (410) 390-3101 to discuss your case for free with an experienced Maryland medical malpractice lawyer. Our firm welcomes clients from Baltimore, Ocean City, and other Maryland communities.
Hospitals don’t back down from medical malpractice cases and neither do we. From the moment we accept a case, we meticulously prepare for the possibility of eventually going to trial. We work on a contingency basis, which means that you owe us nothing for our legal services unless we lead you to a successful outcome of your claim.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a specific type of professional negligence by a healthcare provider. In the context of medical malpractice, negligence means that the medical professional’s actions deviated from or fell below the accepted medical standard of care. When that negligence causes a patient to sustain an injury, become ill, or experience a worsened condition, then medical malpractice may have occurred.
Although doctors and hospitals are often held liable in medical malpractice claims, there are a variety of other types of medical providers that may commit malpractice and be responsible for the harm they have caused.
The following types of medical providers can be held liable in medical malpractice claims:
- Nursing homes
- Assisted living facilities
How Do You Know If You Have A Medical Malpractice Case In Maryland?
To prove that medical malpractice occurred, you must be able to prove all of the following four elements:
- The existence of a doctor-patient relationship: You cannot sue a doctor whose advice you overheard at a cocktail party. To prove medical malpractice, you must demonstrate that a doctor-patient relationship existed between you and the physician you are suing, meaning you hired the doctor and the doctor agreed to be hired.
- The doctor was negligent: A doctor is not liable for medical malpractice just because you are unhappy with your results or treatment. Additionally, a physician’s care is not required to be the best possible, it must simply meet the medical standard of care. The standard of care used in medical malpractice cases is defined by what another medical professional in the same specialty would have done under the same or similar circumstances.
- The negligence of the doctor caused harm: Medical malpractice cases are extremely complex and often involve patients who were already injured or sick. This can make it difficult to prove whether the doctor’s actions or failures actually caused the harm, regardless of negligence. Because of this, medical malpractice cases generally rely heavily on the testimony of medical experts to demonstrate how the doctor’s negligence caused harm.
- The injury resulted in specific damages: If you didn’t suffer any harm, even if it is clear that the physician performed below the medical standard of care, you cannot sue for malpractice. You must prove that the medical professional’s negligence caused compensatory damages, such as lost wages, lost earning capacity, additional medical costs, and mental anguish.
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What Are Examples Of Medical Malpractice Claims?
Medical professionals have an obligation to provide the accepted medical standard of care. When they fail in this duty, and someone gets injured as a result, they may be held liable for negligence. Below are some of the most common errors involved in medical malpractice lawsuits.
Errors in diagnosis by health care providers can have devastating consequences for patients. When a serious or life-threatening condition is not diagnosed, patients may go past the point of possible recovery. Additionally, a wrong diagnosis could cause a patient to receive incorrect treatment, leading to further complications.
While somewhat similar, a delayed diagnosis and a missed diagnosis are not exactly the same.
A delayed diagnosis refers to a situation in which a patient’s ailment, disease, or condition is not diagnosed within a reasonable amount of time.
There are several reasons why medical professionals fail to diagnose serious medical conditions, some of the most common include:
- Failure to order the correct tests: Healthcare professionals are under constant pressure to save money and time while treating as many patients as possible. Unfortunately, this can increase the likelihood of a failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis when the appropriate tests that would have confirmed the medical condition were never ordered.
- Failure to screen patients on a regular basis: Some patients require more frequent screenings to properly monitor the progress of treatment, or to ensure a specific condition has not emerged.
- Misinterpreting test results: Medical professionals sometimes overlook indications of a serious condition due to the pressure to move on to the next patient.
Every surgery demands the absolute attention of the surgeon, the skilled support of the surgical team, and the precise use of delicate instruments. If a surgeon is distracted, inexperienced, uses the wrong tool, operates on the wrong body area, or otherwise fails to provide the accepted standard of care, the likelihood of a surgical error is high.
Some of the most common surgical errors include:
- Foreign objects left inside patients: One of the most common surgical errors occurs when a foreign object is left inside the patient’s body before the incision is sutured. Clamps, gauze, scalpels, and other tiny instruments are small enough that they can be forgotten and left unnoticed by a distracted surgeon. When these types of mistakes happen, patients often suffer extreme pain and life-threatening infection hours or days after the procedure.
- Incorrect surgeries: In some cases, an incorrect or insufficient surgery is performed based on a doctor’s misdiagnosis. Incorrect surgeries can also occur when surgeons need to make on-the-spot decisions but lack the experience or medical training necessary to make important calls correctly.
- Patient mix-ups: When patient files are mixed up, often in hectic, urgent care situations, patients can be incorrectly rolled into operating rooms. If sedatives or health conditions render a patient unconscious, he or she has no way to prevent the operation until it is too late.
- Surgeries on the wrong body part: Surgeries performed on the wrong body part of a patient are not uncommon. In fact, you may have noticed the trend of marking large black X’s on patients’ bodies before surgery to reduce the risk of the surgical teams operating on – or amputating – the wrong body part.
Anesthesia is an inherently risky aspect of any surgery. It requires the skill of an experienced anesthesiologist to administer and monitor the anesthesia’s effect on a patient. Before conducting any medical procedure that requires anesthesia, the anesthesiologist will review the patient’s medical record and patient history. This specialist will also review the patient’s allergies, prior medications, and the time requirements of the procedure to determine the best drug combination to use.
Examples of common anesthesia errors include:
- Failure to intubate: Intubation involves the use of a tube and ventilator to get air into and out of a patient’s lungs. Failure to intubate can prevent a patient from breathing properly.
- Failure to properly inform a patient of instructions before, during, or after the procedure: Medical professionals have an obligation to inform patients of instructions, warnings, and risks before, during, and after procedures.
- Failure to monitor: Physicians have a duty to monitor sedated patients’ vital signs at all times so that they can respond promptly if problems arise. Failure to recognize and respond to anesthesia complications can be extremely dangerous and even fatal.
- Prolonged sedation: When patients are kept under sedation over a dangerously extended period of time, they are exposed to considerable health risks.
Emergency Room Errors
Emergency rooms can be incredibly chaotic environments. The hectic nature of emergency rooms can sometimes contribute to medical errors. Depending on the severity of a patient’s injury, someone could wait for a long time before receiving treatment, or a person could suffer from the mistake of an overworked medical professional.
Emergency room errors can involve mistakes such as:
- Delayed treatment: Emergency rooms bustle with activity, and it can be difficult to receive prompt treatment. However, delaying treatment, particularly for some types of injuries, can greatly increase the risk of an injury worsening or becoming fatal.
- Improper discharge: When patients are released from care before they are well enough to leave the hospital’s supervision, their conditions may worsen and then require more medical treatment. In the worst cases, improper discharge can lead to death.
- Improper performance of a procedure: This type of error can include any medical procedure mistake by any kind of medical professional. These types of errors can range in severity, depending on how the procedure was incorrectly performed.
- Misreading test results: Misreading test results can cause complications down the road, such as delayed treatment, medication errors, and even unnecessary or improper procedures. When imaging tests are interpreted incorrectly, patients may be misdiagnosed, mistreated, or given the wrong medication.
Prescription Medication Errors
Prescription errors can occur at any stage of treatment, from when a physician prescribes the drug to when the patient actually takes the medication. These errors can happen in the medication’s prescription, dispensing, administering, or even its monitoring once the drug is taken.
Common examples of prescription mistakes include:
- Wrong medication: This can occur when a patient is given the incorrect medication because of a prescribing doctor’s error or a misfill on the part of the pharmacy.
- Improper medication combinations: Many prescription errors involve drugs that would be properly prescribed alone, but when combined with other medications, cause serious or fatal injuries.
- Allergic reaction to medication: If a prescribing doctor knows or has reason to know about an allergic reaction to certain medications, they have a duty to take that information into account when writing a prescription for a patient with allergies.
- Adverse effects of medication: Many prescription drugs have side effects that have serious and fatal consequences. Doctors are expected to provide a reasonable standard of care when prescribing medication in light of a patient’s physical condition, medical history, and all relevant diagnostic imaging or laboratory data.
Defective Medical Products
Dangerous or defective medical devices, such as faulty prosthetics, pacemakers, implants, and surgical instruments, can cause a person who undergoes surgery or uses the defective device to suffer an injury or die as a result of the defect.
Examples of defective and dangerous medical products can include:
- Knee and hip replacement parts
- Breast implants
- Kidney dialysis filters
- Hundreds of drugs, such as Yasmin, Prozac, Oxycontin, Chantix, and many more
A birth injury can result in life-long disability and suffering to the mother and/or child. In some very serious cases, negligence at the hands of a medical professional can even result in the death of the child or the mother.
Common types of birth injury are:
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy: Often referred to as HIE, Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy is an umbrella term used to describe impaired brain function due to a lack of oxygen and blood flow. HIE is a more generalized form of birth asphyxia.
- Birth asphyxia: This condition occurs when babies do not receive enough oxygen and other nutrients before, during, or immediately after birth. Oxygen starvation can cause multiple forms of brain damage.
- Cerebral palsy: Also called CP, cerebral palsy is a general term used to classify symptoms characterized by a loss or impairment of motor functions that can affect balance, posture, reflexes, coordination, and muscle control.
- Erb’s palsy: This is a form of brachial plexus palsy. Erb’s palsy birth injuries occur when the delicate bundle of nerves near the neck, called the brachial plexus, suffers damage during a baby’s delivery, causing numbness and paralysis in the baby’s shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers.
- Brachial plexus injuries: The nerves of the brachial plexus control muscle function in the chest, arms, and hand. When these nerves are torn, ruptured, or stretched, serious, life-long injuries can result.
Wrongful Death Caused By Medical Malpractice
Wrongful death lawsuits are brought by the families of those who died as a result of someone else’s negligence. If a doctor fails to fulfill his or her duties in accordance with the established standard of care and causes the patient’s death, he or she may be held accountable in a wrongful death action.
Only specific surviving family members of the deceased are eligible to initiate a wrongful death claim under Maryland’s Wrongful Death Statute. These include a surviving spouse, child, or parent. If there are no immediate beneficiaries alive at the time of the victim’s death, secondary family members may be eligible to submit a wrongful death claim. Surviving siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews, and other relatives make up secondary family members.
Wrongful death cases are intended to compensate the surviving family for the loss they have experienced as a result of their loved one’s untimely death. A wrongful death plaintiff in Maryland is entitled to recover damages that are easily quantifiable, such as past and future medical bills, lost wages or earning ability, and loss of companionship and support. In most circumstances, attorneys will enlist the help of experts in the fields of life care planning or economics to help them calculate these expenditures.
It’s crucial to note that wrongful death lawsuits in Maryland must be filed within three years of the death. If you lost someone at the hands of a negligent health care provider, it is important to contact an experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer right away.
Potential Compensation In A Medical Malpractice Claim
If you have been harmed by a negligent medical professional, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your losses by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Damages in these cases can include:
- Medical costs: Treatments, surgeries, medical visits, physical therapy, and assistive devices that you have acquired as a result of your injury can all be compensated.
- Loss of Income: If you are unable to work as a result of your injury, you may be entitled to compensation for past and future lost wages.
- Disability: You may be entitled to compensation if your injuries have rendered you disabled and you are unable to engage in the activities you were able to prior to the injury.
- Disfigurement: You may be compensated for disfigurement if your injury has left you with scars, hair loss, missing or malformed bodily parts, or any other visible change.
- Pain and suffering: You may be entitled to compensation for any bodily pain and discomfort you experience as a result of a medical provider’s negligence. The amount of compensation you may be entitled to is determined by the nature of your injury and the length of time it takes you to recover.
- Mental anguish: Anxiety, depression, and trauma are all examples of mental anguish, which may be grounds for compensation in a medical malpractice case.
- Loss of consortium: Compensation for loss of consortium compensates you for any physical intimacy or companionship you lost with your spouse or partner as a result of your disabilities.
What Is A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Worth?
Non-economic medical malpractice damages are capped in Maryland. Every year, the cap is raised by $15,000 to keep pace with inflation. Non-economic damages in lawsuits filed in 2020 are capped at $830,000. The restriction is raised to 125 percent of the present non-economic damages cap when medical misconduct results in a wrongful death with two or more beneficiaries. This equates to $1,037,500 in 2020.
It is vital to note that in medical malpractice cases, Maryland solely limits non-economic damages. This means that economic damages, or damages with monetary worth, are not subject to any limitations. In your claim, you can include the whole amount of medical expenditures as well as any other loss with a monetary value.
What Does A Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyer Do?
Medical malpractice is a highly specialized area of law. If you are considering filing a medical malpractice claim, it is strongly advised that you consult with a medical malpractice lawyer with the knowledge, skill, and resources necessary to handle these very complex cases.
An experienced lawyer can help your medical malpractice claim by:
- Investigating the cause of your injury: Med mal attorneys have access to medical experts who can provide invaluable insight into the cause of your injury. By evaluating medical records and gathering pertinent evidence, a lawyer’s investigation will build the foundation of your case.
- Calculating the value of your claim: When it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits, there is no one-size-fits-all formula. Factors such as the type of injury, the consequences, and the health professional’s lack of care may all have an impact on your potential award. Based on their experience, a medical malpractice attorney will estimate the total value of your physical, emotional, and financial losses.
- Dealing with insurance companies: An attorney will handle all negotiations with insurance companies, allowing you to focus on your recovery. Insurance adjusters are skilled negotiators whose goal is to offer as low of a settlement as possible; having a seasoned lawyer in your corner during the negotiation process will even the playing field.
- Reaching the best possible settlement in your case: Insurance companies know which lawyers and law firms tend to settle and which are prepared to take a case to court, if necessary. This can have a significant impact on the insurance company’s settlement offers. As a trial attorney law firm, The Bishop Law Group has built a reputation for fierce advocacy for our clients. We generally obtain higher settlements for our clients because insurance companies know that when we say we’ll take a case to court, we mean it.
Contact Our Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today
The experienced Maryland medical malpractice lawyers at The Bishop Law Group are committed to seeking justice for those who have suffered at the hands of health care providers. We are committed to helping our clients recover the maximum compensation they need to move forward with their lives.
Do not postpone justice another day. If you have been injured as the result of medical negligence, call the Maryland medical malpractice lawyers at The Bishop Law Group today at (410) 390-3101 to discuss your case for free. We serve clients throughout Maryland, including Baltimore, Ocean City, and other areas.