When someone in Bucks County seeks medical treatment from their doctor or in a hospital, they expect to receive competent healthcare by conscientious medical professionals. However, not every healthcare worker meets those expectations. Some medical professions, through their carelessness or negligence, harm their patients.
Medical malpractice could result in a lifetime of complications. In the most severe cases, a medical professional’s negligence could prove fatal. Litigation arising from medical malpractice is complicated and requires a team of seasoned attorneys with the knowledge, staff, and resources to aggressively advocate for your rights.
If you have experienced any harm or unforeseen complications after seeking healthcare treatment, our Bucks County medical malpractice lawyer might be able to assist you. At the Reiff Law Firm, our attorneys and staff are dedicated to holding doctors and other medical professionals accountable for their negligent conduct. Call (215) 709-6940 to schedule a free consultation.
Types of Medical Malpractice Claims that You Can File a Lawsuit For in Bucks County
Sometimes, determining if you were the victim of medical malpractice is difficult. This is because not every medical error constitutes malpractice and every tragic outcome is not preventable. However, some commons mistakes result in a patient experiencing harm. When an injury is the direct result of a doctor’s error or another medical professional’s negligence, the victim is entitled to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
Missed Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis
When a person is not feeling well, or their symptoms indicate a serious medical condition, receiving a timely and accurate diagnosis might be critical in obtaining proper care. When a doctor diagnoses a medical condition accurately, the patient can begin treatment immediately. Depending on the situation, this timing could be lifesaving.
When a medical condition is misdiagnosed, a doctor may prescribe an ineffective treatment while the underlying disease progresses. This mistake could be especially harmful, for example, if cancer is allowed to metastasize and spread through a patient’s body. Additionally, if the condition was misdiagnosed, a patient might be undergoing expensive and painful medical treatments that will not improve their health. In some unfortunate situations, a treatable condition could become fatal if misdiagnosed.
When diagnosing a medical condition, a doctor will often relay or perform diagnostic tests to understand the symptoms a patient is exhibiting. If a doctor or another medical professional misinterprets the test results, their mistake could constitute medical malpractice.
Medical technicians could make an error when performing a test or procedure. For instance, if the equipment is not accurately calibrated or a sample is contaminated, the test result could be inaccurate. Diagnostic tests must be run appropriately to ensure a proper diagnosis.
Surgery is an invasive procedure and presents many additional risks to the patient in addition to the condition being treated. A surgeon who performs the wrong procedure or operates on the incorrect body part could be held responsible for any harm the patient suffers. Additionally, if the wrong amount or mixture of anesthesia is administered, the anesthesiologist could have committed medical malpractice.
One of the most common surgical errors is leaving surgical instruments, especially surgical sponges, in a patient after an operation. When a sharp instrument is left inside an abdominal cavity, the patient could suffer a puncture to their internal organs, leading to severe complications or death. Sponges that are left behind often lead to post-operative infections. Surgeons and members of surgical teams that make grievous errors should be held liable for the harm they caused.
The birth of a child should be a joyous event in a mother’s life. However, if a mother does not receive proper care during her pregnancy or if the delivery is mismanaged, a serious birth injury could occur. When an obstetrician and their medical team fail to address the complications associated with a difficult delivery, a child could suffer a life-altering injury or even death.
Medication is usually an essential component in treating an illness or medical condition. However, when a doctor prescribes a medication that a patient is allergic to or adversely reacts to a medication the patient is already taking, serious and harmful consequences are likely. It is also essential that the dosage is accurate. An accidental overdose could occur if the doctor fails to provide proper instructions or if a nurse administers the wrong amount.
Malpractice vs. Negligence
It is not uncommon for professionals and the uninformed to use the terms malpractice and negligence interchangeably. One reason is that, in most situations, most people do not have to worry about either. However, in the healthcare and legal fields, malpractice and negligence are important concepts.
Negligence is much broader and more encompassing term than malpractice. Negligence is not limited to the medical field. Any person in any field could be negligent. For instance, any person is potentially guilty of negligence when they get behind the wheel of their car.
In a legal sense, negligence is a general term used to denote carelessness or recklessness. A person is guilty of negligence when they deviate from what a reasonable person would have done under the same or similar circumstances. Mistakes do not necessarily constitute negligence. To prove negligence in a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff must show four elements: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
Malpractice is very similar to negligence. However, malpractice is often referred to as professional negligence. When a licensed professional, such as a lawyer, accountant, or medical provider, fails to adhere to the standards outlined by a governing body, causing harm or injury, their conduct could constitute malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, or another healthcare provider fails to adhere to the appropriate standard of medical care. Unfortunately, these lapses in judgment or errors often have catastrophic consequences.
Sometimes a lapse in judgment is simply a mistake. For example, when prescribing medication, a physician might not thoroughly review a patient’s medical history, including what current medications they are taking. If the new medication adversely reacts with the drugs a person is taking, the results could be life-threatening.
Errors also occur during surgical procedures. If a surgeon accidentally nicks or punctures an organ, the patient could suffer disastrous results. Leaving surgical instruments inside a patient is much more common than most people imagine, especially bloody sponges.
While the medical professional’s intention in both examples above was not to harm their patient, the resulting consequences of their errors could have resulted in devastating consequences. No matter the intention, if the conduct deviated from the acceptable standard of care, our Bucks County medical malpractice lawyers believe healthcare providers should be held accountable.
There are times when medical malpractice arises from the intentional conduct of a healthcare provider. If a surgical team failed to sterilize their equipment because they were in a rush to complete the procedure, the intentional conduct could constitute intentional malpractice. A surgeon or surgical team member knows that unsterilized instruments could lead to infection or death. When a medical professional’s conduct is especially egregious, you need an aggressive and experienced Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney.
How Do You Know if a Medical Mistake Occurred?
Medicine is not an exact science. Sometimes, despite the best efforts of medical professionals and healthcare providers, a patient’s condition does not improve. In some cases, it might even grow worse. However, there are some indications that medical malpractice occurred.
Lack of Consent
Every medical procedure comes with a certain amount of risk and possible complications. Before you receive any treatment, your doctor should explain the benefits and risks involved. Lack of informed consent is medical malpractice and occurs when a doctor performs a procedure that you did not agree to or failed to explain the risks and benefits. If a patient would have chosen a different course of action, had they been aware of the potential complications, their physician could be liable for any unfavorable outcome.
Unlike other forms of medical malpractice, our Bucks County lawyers will not have to prove that your doctor deviated from the standard of care if your case is based on a lack of informed consent.
Highly Unusual Consequences
While your doctor is required to explain the foreseeable benefits and risks of your prescribed treatment, they do not have to explain the highly unusual or unlikely risks. However, when a patient experiences an extraordinary consequence of complication, it could be an indication of medical malpractice.
For instance, a patient might undergo a procedure to biopsy their abdomen. Under normal circumstances, this is a relatively minor procedure with a fast recovery time. However, if a critical mistake occurred during the procedure, the patient could experience severe abdominal pain or fever. A trip to the emergency room and subsequent surgery might reveal a sponge or other instrument left behind after the original procedure. If your complications are extraordinary, you should seek another medical opinion and legal representation.
The Medical Professional Admits an Error
There are times when a healthcare provider will admit that a mistake occurred. If a doctor or nurse apologizes to you or if a hospital offers compensation, then you might have been the victim of medical malpractice. In some cases, a medical facility could even conduct an investigation of the error. If you believe that your doctor or any medical professional has admitted fault and you are experiencing adverse complications, contact our Bucks County medical malpractice lawyers immediately. Admitting a mistake might appear honorable, but you do not want to accept any settlement offer that could prohibit you from seeking the compensation you deserve.
Not Medical Malpractice
Every error or poor outcome does not constitute medical malpractice. Some things occur during medical treatment that is frustrating and potentially negative that are not grounds for a viable lawsuit.
For example, waiting a long time to see your doctor or feeling you were rushed through an appointment does not constitute malpractice. In many cases, a patient’s condition will require multiple trips to the emergency room or extended hospital stays. Difficulty in diagnosing or treating a condition is not an indication of malpractice without other factors. Furthermore, complications are a part of medical treatment. If you were informed of the risks and they come to fruition, it might not be medical malpractice. Nonetheless, if you believe your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider was negligent, contact our Bucks County medical malpractice attorney immediately.
Damages Available in a Bucks County Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
If you were the victim of medical malpractice, you are entitled to seek compensation for your financial losses and physical suffering through a personal injury lawsuit. In Bucks County, you could recover compensatory damages, including economic and non-economic damages that were directly related to the harm suffered.
Economic damages include your financial losses, including the cost of medical procedures, additional treatment, hospitalization, and medication costs. Furthermore, you are entitled to be compensated for any future medical treatments you might require, such as additional surgeries or home healthcare.
A victim of medical malpractice could also recover their lost income and the income they would have earned if not for the harm sustained.
You are also able to recover non-economic damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit. While your financial losses are typically easy to calculate, non-economic damages are more challenging to quantify. A victim is entitled to recover for their mental and physical suffering. Putting a dollar amount on your suffering will depend on how the harm impacted your life. Our experienced Bucks County medical malpractice attorney will work with you, your family and other medical professionals to determine a justifiable amount.
Our Bucks County Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help
There are few professionals we trust with more critical decisions and power over our wellbeing than our healthcare providers. When a medical professional makes an inexcusable error, the consequences are often severe or even deadly. Our Bucks County medical malpractice lawyers are dedicated to representing people injured through the negligence of their healthcare providers. Call the medical malpractice attorneys at the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 to schedule a free consultation.