Medical malpractice means more than simply a negative outcome in a doctor’s office, emergency room, nursing home, or hospital. It takes more than a minor medical mistake to have grounds for a malpractice claim or lawsuit. Medical malpractice occurs when a patient suffers significant injuries or dies directly from a health care provider’s negligent acts or omissions.
An act of medical negligence happens when a healthcare professional performs outside the generally accepted or legally mandated standards of care. This could mean prescribing medicine for off-label use, giving inadequate aftercare instructions compared to others in their practice area, or simply not paying attention to things they should. Medical negligence can also occur through failure to act when most other caregivers would choose to give a certain treatment or intervention (like oxygen or CPR), and injury or wrongful death results because one care provider did not follow those standards of care. Statistics show that around 250,000 people are killed by medical errors every year.
Negligent medical diagnosis, treatment, or surgery can cause injuries or complications that have devastating effects, including the loss of a loved one. There are many types of injuries that can occur.
Pregnancy Injuries: There are a number of why a obstetrician, pediatrician, nurse, or other health care provider might have a medical malpractice lawsuit brought against them after aiding in a pregnancy or delivery that goes wrong. Approximately 27 out of every 1,000 babies born every year in the United States suffer some type of birth injury during the delivery process. In fact, the most common medical specialty named in a medical malpractice lawsuit is obstetrics, with cases against obstetricians making up over 10% of medical malpractice claims.
These types of medical malpractice claims may be brought for several reasons. Most commonly, serious injury occurs to the birth mother or the fetus while in the care of a physician. Injuries sustained to a baby during childbirth could result in nerve damage that comes in the form of Erb’s Palsy, nerve damage caused by the stretching or pulling of a baby’s neck during labor. Other common injuries that occur to babies at birth are the following: (1) Brain damage; (2) Cerebral palsy; (3) Erbs palsy; (4) Lack of oxygen; or (5) Broken bones; or (6) injury to the birth mother.
Failing to diagnose or misdiagnosing a medical condition, such as ectopic pregnancy, preeclampsia, or gestational diabetes can also lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. An ectopic pregnancy can be dangerous. This is when the fetus is attached to somewhere inside the woman other than the uterus. Not only is this a dangerous condition that might go unnoticed, but if a health care provider misdiagnoses this condition, they may administer medications that could cause the birth mother to miscarry without need.
Nursing Home Neglect: If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a nursing home, in most cases this will fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice. Malpractice at a nursing home can result in serious harm or even death for residents. Any nursing home or assisted living facility owes a duty of reasonable care to its residents. If they don’t abide by that duty or level of care and their negligence causes an injury to a nursing home resident in Indiana, they can be subject to a medical malpractice claim. In this case, the resident must be able to prove that the nursing home did not act in good faith or in a way that meets industry best practices.
Surgical Injuries: Undergoing surgery is a scary prospect for anyone who has to have one. To make matters worse, it has been reported that every year over there are 4,000 preventable surgical mistakes made. These types of surgical mistakes that lead to medical malpractice lawsuits are called “never” mistakes, or mistakes that just shouldn’t happen. These types of surgical errors may include cases where a patient has the wrong procedure performed on a healthy body part. Medical errors like surgical tools or sponges being left inside a body, anesthesia errors, or a procedure performed that is meant for another person entirely, are more examples of “never” mistakes.
Emergency Room Errors: Heart attacks, asthma, aneurysm, motor vehicle crashes, gun shots, life-threatening conditions, and other events, result in numerous patients seeking medical care in the ER. Emergency room doctors, nurses, and other ER workers must act quickly to accurately diagnose and properly treat patients. Such urgency, especially when combined with labor shortages, significantly increase the risk of triage and emergency room errors. It is not uncommon for medical malpractice lawyers to handle cases involving missed or delayed diagnoses, medication errors, delayed treatments, premature discharges, and communication errors that occur in the ER.
Medication Errors: When a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist makes medication errors, like writing the wrong prescription administering the wrong dose, or failing to detect drug interactions, it can be detrimental to a patient’s health. Medication errors can result in birth injury, permanent disability, brain injury, life threatening situations. severe allergic reactions, and wrongful death. Although barcode scanning and other technology has reduced the number of medication errors in hospitals and other healthcare settings in recent years, these preventable mistakes are still commonly seen by medical malpractice lawyers in Indiana.
Diagnostic Errors: An incorrect diagnosis may be caused by misinterpreting imaging. When a missed diagnosis or mistaken diagnosis occurs, the patient may be subjected to unnecessary medications and procedures that can leave long-term or permanent effects on his or her health, physical and mental well-being. The failure to diagnose a serious, life-threatening condition like cancer, pulmonary embolism, stroke or heart attack can have deadly consequences.
Communication Errors: Health care providers frequently fail to properly communicate with other healthcare professionals, staff members, and patients. Often, the communications passes on incorrect information, failing to report test results or read reports when completing patient transfers or beginning or ending their shifts. Communication breakdowns are a contributing factor resulting in approximately 30% of the medical malpractice cases handled by injury attorneys in the United States.
Prescription Drug Negligence: A health care provider improperly prescribing a patient the incorrect medication may result in pharmaceutical negligence. These mistakes can occur at the pharmacy or when a nurse or aide gives a dose in a hospital or nursing facility or other health care facility. This type of medical negligence can take the following forms: (1) Dosages that are too much or too little; (2) Medication errors – giving the patient the wrong type of medication; (3) Medicine that causes negative interactions; (4) Medicine that causes patients to have allergic reactions; (5) An incorrect dose to a child; or (6) An incorrect dose to an adult. A health care provider may also fail to give their patient the proper instructions they need in order to take their medication safely, which can also have serious consequences.
Caregiver Negligence: There are many cases where a health care provider does not hold up their duty of care and are responsible for the injury or even death of a patient. This could include misdiagnosis of a stroke or heart attack, not following standards of hygiene, or minimizing a patient’s symptoms when other doctors might have done differently. Negligence by the caregiver is only a legal factor when your condition is getting worse or not improving because of the medical care provided.
Nursing Negligence: Physicians aren’t the only ones who can be found responsible of committing medical malpractice. In many instances, a nurse may be negligent. Nurses are in charge of the day-to-day care of a patient, which means they have more contact and more opportunities to make an error than a doctor or specialist.
Paramedic Negligence: Paramedics are often the first health care providers on the scene after car crashes, when someone is having a stroke or heart attack, or following shooting victims. In many cases, patients’ lives are in danger and every second counts. When paramedics do not have adequate training, they may miss a life-threatening injury or condition, improperly delay treatment, or fail to properly treat a condition correctly. In these situations, patients’ condition can worsen. In many cases, this type of medical negligence leads to permanent disability or death.
For a medical malpractice lawsuit to be successful, injuries must be directly caused by the negligent care or lack of care from the health care provider.
Blachly, Tabor, Bozik & Hartman, LLC represents clients in medical malpractice matters. Call Partner Jeffrey S. Wrage at 800-921-2824 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation at one of our offices located in Valparaiso or Fort Wayne. We help clients in Hobart, Portage, Chesterton, Merrillville, Gary and anywhere in Northern Indiana.