Medical malpractice is defined as any mistake (including a misdiagnosis) by a medical professional that results in some type of injury or death. According to the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (ABPLA), medical malpractice “occurs when a hospital, doctor or other health care professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. The negligence might be the result of errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare or health management.”
Medical malpractice can take many forms including:
- Failure to diagnose, delayed diagnosis, or misdiagnosis
- Misreading or ignoring laboratory results
- Unnecessary surgery
- Surgical errors including wrong site surgery
- Improper medication or dosage
- Poor follow-up or aftercare
- Premature discharge
- Disregarding or not taking appropriate patient history
- Failure to order proper testing
- Failure to recognize symptoms
Hospital Liability Issues
When any of the above occur in a hospital setting, the hospital may be held liable for injuries or death resulting from these medical mistakes if, and only if, certain conditions are met (the conditions are listed below).
If someone is an employee of a hospital, the hospital is typically liable if that employee hurts a patient by acting negligently or incompetently. Sometimes, however, an injury will take place in a hospital and the hospital may not be liable for the injury. If a doctor who is not a full-time employee of the hospital makes a medical mistake resulting in injury or death, the hospital may not be liable for the doctor’s mistake. Many factors must be taken into consideration when evaluating which parties are liable for medical negligence.
If the hospital doesn’t make it crystal clear to a patient that their treating doctor is not an employee of the hospital, the patient can sue the hospital for the doctor’s malpractice. Hospitals attempt to avoid this problem by informing patients in the admission forms that the doctor is not a hospital employee. But even in cases where a hospital would generally not be liable for an independently contracted doctor’s malpractice, the hospital may still be held responsible in certain situations. It’s complex, confusing, and difficult for the layperson to understand all the in’s and out’s of medical malpractice law. That’s where an experienced attorney like Laurie Robbins can help. She will reviewing the details of your case and investigate the facts to determine the liable parties.
Viable Medical Malpractice Claims
In order for a medical malpractice claim against a hospital to be valid, it must show:
- A standard of care was violated: The law acknowledges certain medical standards as being “acceptable medical treatment by reasonably prudent health care professionals under like or similar circumstances”; the standard is known as the “standard of care.” Hospital patients have the right to expect that doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals will deliver care that is consistent with these standards. If the standard of care was not met by hospital personnel and that failure led to an injury, medical malpractice may have occurred. However, an unfavorable outcome in a hospital, without breach of the standard of care, does not constitute medical negligence.
- Medical negligence caused an injury or death: For hospitals to be guilty of medical malpractice, an injury must occur. If a doctor violates the standard of care but no injury results, then there is no medical malpractice.
- The injury resulted in significant damages: In order for a hospital to be legally liable, the patient must show the injury resulting from medical malpractice resulted in disability, loss of income, pain, suffering and hardship, or significant past and future medical bills.
Suing a Hospital for Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice claims are always complex, even when only one party is liable for an injury or wrongful death. When both a healthcare professional and a hospital are responsible for an injury or death, the case becomes even more complex because multiple parties will be involved. To pursue a claim and file a lawsuit, your medical malpractice attorney must prove negligence and harm on your behalf, and proving these claims is a complex process that takes a team of professionals. Medical experts will have to be deposed to prove the merits of your case, and the whole process can take months or even years to resolve.
If a hospital is liable for your injury or a loved one’s death, your attorney will seek compensation for:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future wages
- Non-economic damages (money you are owed for changes in your quality of life)
- Pain and suffering that resulted from the medical mistake
In wrongful death cases, your attorney will seek compensation for:
- Hospital and medical expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost wages and benefits
- Estate administration expenses
- Compensation for pain and suffering
The most common mistake people make when considering filing a medical malpractice claim against a hospital is waiting to long to contact an attorney. If you think you have a medical malpractice claim and the negligence occurred in Atlanta or anywhere in Georgia, please contact attorney Laurie Robbins today.