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Medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider makes a mistake and that mistake causes injury to the patient. There is a wide diversity of circumstances that can result in malpractice, however, the core issue is whether the doctor or nurse injured the patient because of their failure to perform their services to the standard in the medical profession.
Medical malpractice can take many forms, however, there are some categories that exist for certain types.
Failure to Monitor – A failure to monitor occurs when a patient is not monitored by their provider and as time passes, the patient is injured in some way. Typically, this type of injury occurs in either failure to properly monitor a fetus during labor and delivery or failure to monitor a patient after surgery.
Failure to Diagnose – A failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis of a disease or illness is typically a challenging claim to make. A patient that presents to a doctor with a particular set of symptoms may appear different than the typical presentation of a disease or illness. If a doctor makes a diagnosis and because of that diagnosis pursues a treatment plan that turns out to be harmful or unhelpful to the patient, it may result in injury to the patient. The problem to a prospective claim against that doctor is she may have performed her services sufficient to meet the standard of care despite the injury.
Drug Error / Drug Interactions – Prescribing the wrong drug to treat a condition does happen, though it is rare. Another injury that can occur is when a doctor prescribes the correct drug, but the wrong drug, or wrong dose, is administered. Any of these errors can result in serious injury or death.
Many patients, particularly elderly patients, are often given many different drugs. These drugs can interact with other drugs and cause significant injury or death. A doctor should be aware of the potential for such interactions and when they occur, it may be the result of medical malpractice.
Drugs are given “black box warnings” by the FDA and doctors ought to know these warnings when they issue prescriptions. These warnings indicate potential side effects that may occur upon taking the drug. If a doctor ignores a black box warning and it causes injuries, he may have committed malpractices, though it is not guaranteed.
Surgical Errors – Surgery is often a very risky endeavor; there is no such thing as “minor surgery.” From risks associated with the doctor cutting in the wrong place, to anesthesia related side effects, to improper use of instruments and medical devices, blood clots, nerve damage, and sepsis, surgery can result in many different types of injuries; some may give rise to an actionable malpractice suit, many do not.
Doctors attempt to inform their patients about the potential risks they may encounter in the surgical suite. Despite such information, and despite the patient’s waiver, a doctor cannot warn about and cannot be absolved of liability for his own errors that result in significant injury.
Medical Malpractice Suits – A suit against a doctor or hospital for injury is a complex and difficult undertaking. Virginia state law requires that a lawsuit for medical malpractice be certified by an expert that there was a deviation from the standard of care. In this process, the expert will review the records and make a determination whether the duty was breached and that such breach caused the plaintiff’s injury.
If you or a loved one has been injured by the actions of a doctor or other health professional, please contact the attorneys at The Simms Firm, PLC. During your consultation, we will determine whether we can assist you in defending your rights.