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Most patients expect a high quality of care when they put themselves in the hands of a doctor, whether they have suffered an injury or have symptoms of an illness. They expect the doctor to give a reasoned, accurate diagnosis, to provide accurate treatment, and to do nothing that makes their overall health or symptoms worse.
Unfortunately, not all doctors provide the standard of care you expect.
Did you suffer medical malpractice due to the negligence of a medical care provider, whether it was at the hands of a doctor or another member of a hospital staff? Gomez Trial Attorneys can help you better understand the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (619) 237-3490 to learn more about your legal rights following a medical malpractice event.
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical care provider causes an injury to a patient through negligence. Most medical malpractice cases do not occur due to deliberate error or malice on the part of the physician or care provider, but rather by a care provider who does not take the necessary steps to properly diagnose, treat, and care for a patient. Medical malpractice can occur due to several types of negligence.
In many medical cases, properly diagnosing the patient proves critical for overall patient care and treatment. Without an accurate diagnosis, the patient cannot receive the care needed to treat their illness or injury.
In a failure to diagnose case, the physician, despite the presence of clear evidence of a specific type of illness or injury, does not accurately diagnose the patient’s illness or injury. For example, a doctor looking at an x-ray of a broken bone who insists that the patient suffered no serious injuries could be subject to liability for failing to diagnose that injury. In other cases, the doctor may fail to accurately diagnose an illness: despite the clear presentation of symptoms, the doctor does not properly identify the patient’s illness.
Failure to diagnose can mean that the patient does not receive the proper treatment for their injury or illness. In the case of some injuries or illnesses, improper treatment worsens the symptoms of the original condition.
For example, walking around on a broken bone could cause the break to worsen, potentially even leading to permanent disability. Failing to treat an illness can cause the victim to develop worsening symptoms, including more serious illness than the original diagnosis would have indicated.
Like the failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis can cause severe impacts for patients. In a case of misdiagnosis, the physician diagnoses the wrong condition: for example, diagnosing a benign infection instead of cancer, or diagnosing cancer where the patient has another condition entirely. To qualify as misdiagnosis, the patient must have a clear presentation of symptoms that indicate the presence of the illness or injury.
In a misdiagnosis case, unlike failure to diagnose, the patient may receive treatment for the wrong illness or injury. For example, a patient diagnosed with cancer, despite not having it, may undergo chemotherapy treatments. These treatments can cause their own set of complications.
Often, treatments for severe illnesses have substantial side effects, which can leave patients in worse condition than before. Meanwhile, the patient is not receiving treatment for the illness or injury they actually have, which can cause symptoms of their real condition to worsen.
During surgery, doctors perform delicate procedures on patients who need those treatments to maximize their care. Unfortunately, surgical errors can cause severe injury to the patient. In some cases, a doctor might treat the wrong part of the body, sometimes with catastrophic consequences: for example, the doctor might amputate the wrong limb or operate on the wrong organ. In other cases, the doctor might leave a foreign object in the patient after surgery.
These extreme events, sometimes called “never events,” can have severe impacts on the patient, leading to infection, the need for repeat procedures, loss of function and quality of life, and even death.
When an injury to either mother or child occurs due to a physician’s error during childbirth, it qualifies as a birth injury. Birth injuries can leave either mother or child with lifelong injuries. During this very vulnerable time, mothers and children alike require a high standard of care.
Doctors typically monitor both mother and child carefully to reduce the risk of injury or death. A doctor who fails to properly monitor mother or child and to make reasonable decisions about treatment based on that monitoring could cause injury or death to either patient or both. Doctors who wait too long to recommend a C-section, for example, could cause oxygen deprivation or death of the unborn child, or could cause severe injury to a mother who can no longer labor safely.
Medical products perform a variety of functions in offices and hospitals. These devices must adhere to high-quality control guidelines to ensure that they perform their assigned function and do not pose unnecessary danger to patients. While some devices are implanted in the patient’s body, like, artificial joints or pacemakers, others are used externally, like, syringes or monitoring devices.
When those devices fail to properly perform their assigned function, they can lead to severe injury in the impacted patient. For example, if a patient’s IV device malfunctions, the patient might get a much larger dose of medication than intended, or the patient may not get any of the medication at all. A patient may also be severely injured if a broken device implanted in the patient’s body fails to perform its assigned functions, often leading to serious complications for the patient.
When used properly, medications perform many vital functions. They help manage pain, treat symptoms of illness and infection, and even help manage the symptoms of common diseases and conditions. Used improperly, on the other hand, medications can cause a host of issues that can leave patients with severe and sometimes lifelong side effects.
Sometimes, doctors may find themselves prescribing additional medications to help treat side effects from a patient’s existing prescriptions, especially at improper doses.
Not only must doctors and nurses properly calculate doses to ensure that patients receive the treatment recommended for their weight, age, and symptoms, they must make sure that the medication does not interact with any others the patient must take to create dangerous side effects. Doctors must also take care to ensure that those medications do not cause extreme complications in the patient and monitor the patient for side effects.
Doctors have a duty not only to treat their patients carefully and provide a high standard of care, but to make sure that they keep patients informed about their treatment options and what those treatments will mean for them. Doctors must explain common side effects to their patients so that patients can make informed choices about their treatments.
While they need not list every potential side effect, such as those that have a low occurrence rate, they must let patients know about the likely side effects associated with given treatments. In some cases, patients might decide not to pursue a treatment based on likely side effects.
Doctors need not discuss potential side effects with patients in an emergency, life-threatening situation. For example, if a patient comes into the emergency room unconscious, or if unexpected complications arise during surgery, the doctor may choose to treat the patient using best practices and their current knowledge, rather than securing consent from the patient before moving forward with treatment.
Most doctors and medical care facilities carry medical malpractice insurance that helps protect both doctors and patients when medical malpractice does occur. Liability for medical malpractice can rest with:
Most often, the doctor or other medical professional who makes a treatment decision is liable for medical malpractice if that decision was negligent. In some cases, more than one provider may be liable for a medical malpractice claim, especially if multiple providers worked together to treat a particular patient.
To include a doctor as part of a medical malpractice lawsuit, a doctor/patient relationship must exist between the doctor and the victim at the time of the medical malpractice.
For example, a doctor, who was never involved in treating the patient prior, assigned to the emergency room at the time of the victim’s visit does not bear any liability in a medical malpractice claim. On the other hand, if a doctor on the floor got pulled in to consult and the two doctors decided together on an incorrect diagnosis, despite clearly presented symptoms, both doctors may share liability for an act of medical malpractice.
In some cases, the facility where the doctor practices may share liability for a medical malpractice event. This includes cases where the facility employs the doctor directly, rather than simply offering a place for the doctor to practice. The facility may also be liable in situations where the facility’s negligence leads to a medical malpractice event: if the facility’s inadequate cleaning leads to an infection in the patient, for example.
If a medical device malfunctions, the medical equipment manufacturer may be liable for a medical malpractice event. For example, if a pacemaker manufacturer puts out devices with known errors, the manufacturer may be liable for any injury that a patient suffers as a result of that malfunction.
Many patients wonder, “How much compensation can I get for a San Bernardino medical malpractice claim?” Many doctors carry substantial medical malpractice insurance policies that can provide the compensation patients deserve after a medical malpractice event.
Since medical malpractice often leads to substantial injury and suffering for the patient, it can lead to considerable settlements for victims; however, the amount you receive will depend on the doctor or facility’s insurance policy, who is liable for your medical malpractice event, and the severity of your injuries from the event.
Medical malpractice can lead to substantial medical expenses. Not only can medical malpractice lead to treatment that you do not need for conditions that you do not have, in many cases, medical malpractice can lead to the need for increased treatment.
In a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis case, for example, victims may need more medical treatment for their actual diagnosis than they would have if the doctor had properly diagnosed the illness or injury in the first place. Compensation for those medical expenses may form the foundation of your medical malpractice claim.
In many cases, medical malpractice makes it hard to return to work. You may have gone in for a routine procedure, only to find that ongoing complications from medical malpractice make it impossible for you to return to work for a longer period of time than you initially contemplated.
In other cases, you may miss work due to a doctor’s failure to properly diagnose and treat your illness or injury, since continuing symptoms make it difficult to manage your work responsibilities. You can include the lost wages from that time as part of your San Bernardino medical malpractice claim.
Many medical malpractice events can cause both physical and emotional suffering. Not only can medical malpractice cause more pain than your initial illness or injury, you may go through considerable anguish due to your losses related to that malpractice. Other victims struggle with the weight of undiagnosed conditions, wondering if they will ever get their lives back. You can include that pain and suffering as part of your San Bernardino medical malpractice claim.
Following a medical malpractice event, the doctor or facility’s insurance company may contact you to offer a settlement. Consult an experienced San Bernardino medical malpractice lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys before accepting that settlement, since it may not reflect the full compensation you deserve for your injuries.
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