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Cochran Firm Blog, Philadelphia

Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Case?

patient suffering medical malpractice

Undergoing treatment for a serious illness or disease is one of the most difficult things that a person can face. Every year in the U.S., millions of people visit a physician to address a health concern that they’re battling. Everyone hopes that they’re getting the best possible medical care. After all, we tend to trust the person sitting across from us in a white coat.

But what happens when that person makes a mistake or provides us with the wrong advice? Thousands of Americans are forced to file medical malpractice lawsuits each year. Many of these people are survivors of surgical mishaps or misdiagnoses that may have been preventable.

If you believe that you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, don’t hesitate to seek help. Consult with an attorney regarding your case as soon as possible.

In the meantime, we’re going to go over some basic information regarding this topic.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

First off, let’s start with what medical malpractice even means.

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”.

We all know, however, that bone-dry legal definitions are a bit difficult to understand. That’s why we’ve compiled some handy examples of medical malpractice below. 

Examples Of Medical Malpractice

A medical malpractice case can take numerous different forms. Having said that, here are a few common examples:

Surgical Errors

We’d like to think that surgical errors are uncommon occurrences, but that just isn’t true. Every year, news outlets publish reports of patients discovering that a surgical sponge was left inside them during a procedure. The worst part is that this isn’t an uncommon occurrence – in fact, there have been thousands of cases of objects left in patients during surgery. 

Other types of surgical errors happen as well. For example, operating on the wrong area, or even on the wrong patient can all have detrimental consequences for patients.

Misreading or Ignoring Lab Results

Herlinda Garcia was in the news frequently back in 2013 as the victim of an awful case of medical malpractice. According to CBS News, her doctor had “misread her results”, resulting in Garcia undergoing years of chemotherapy. Herlinda Garcia was awarded $367,500 for physical pain and mental anguish.

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia awareness is one of the most tragic and terrifying types of medical malpractice commonly seen. In 2007, NBC News published this article regarding Sherman Sizemore, a man that had been awake during his surgery. The man committed suicide shortly after his surgery, and his family eventually filed a lawsuit.

Birth Injury

Unlike the other medical errors listed here, this one can lead to two people being harmed – the baby itself, as well as the mother. According to the National Law Review, some common birth injury errors are as follows: 

  • Failing to anticipate birth complications.
  • Failure to respond to fetal distress.
  • Delay in ordering a cesarean section when medically necessary.

Please note, however, that not all unfavorable medical outcomes are strictly medical malpractice. There are other criteria and factors that contribute to something being a medical malpractice case.

Do You Have A Medical Malpractice Case?

Whether or not you may have a medical malpractice case on your hands is a difficult question to answer. The best way to know for sure is simply to contact an attorney and consult with them. Fortunately, Cochran Firm Philadelphia offers FREE consultations, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

In the meantime, here is some general info that we’ve compiled from sources around the web. 

Here are some of the basic elements of a medical malpractice claim:

The Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim

A Doctor-Patient Relationship Existed

  • Did the doctor agree to treat you? 
  • Did you hire the doctor? 
  • Was there payment involved? 

In many cases, a doctor-patient relationship is fairly straightforward to establish. This is especially true if you went to a hospital and have records stating that the physician in question was your doctor of record. 

Having said that, cases, where the doctor-patient relationship was more informal, can be a lot more complicated. That’s why it’s always best to consult with an experienced attorney.

The Doctor Was Negligent

Proving negligence can be one of the hardest parts of a medical malpractice case. According to Nolo, this includes showing that “the doctor caused you harm in a way that a competent doctor, under the same circumstances, would not have”. 

Medical negligence occurs when a doctor causes you, their patient, harm when another–competent–doctor would not have under the same conditions.

During the legal process, our attorneys work with  medical experts to give their opinion regarding the appropriate standard of care as it relates to your case.

The Doctor’s Negligence Caused the Injury

This part of the equation varies depending on the type of case. For example, cancer and other diseases can muddy a case significantly. After all, was it the doctor’s negligence, or the disease that caused the injury or death

Once again, this is one of the reasons why an experienced medical malpractice attorney is essential to your case. A Cochran Firm Philadelphia attorney can help you decide whether or not your experience might indicate some kind of negligence was at play.

The Injury Led to Specific Damages

This point is something you might find in other personal injury cases as well as medical malpractice cases. Did the doctor’s negligence result in any specific damages to the patient? Keep in mind that damages can be more than medical bills or physical harm. For example, in some cases, a patient might attempt to sue for mental anguish with the help of experienced Personal injury lawyer.

Medical Malpractice Statute Of Limitations

Generally speaking, a statute of limitations is how long parties involved in a dispute have to begin legal proceedings. When it comes to disputes such as personal injury or medical malpractice, victims  have to begin filing a lawsuit within a reasonable time frame. The exact time frame allowed does vary by state and type of dispute.

Many states also break down their statute of limitations laws into different cases. For example, there may be a general statute of limitations, but also exceptions for cases where the error couldn’t be discovered until much later. If the patient was a minor (under 18) at the time of the medical error, that may impact the statute of limitations time frame as well.

In most states, the statute of limitations is just a few years. This may seem like a lot of time, but it’s really not. Consider that during that time frame, you’ll need to hire a lawyer, explain your case, collect evidence, and possibly file a lawsuit. A few years can come and go very quickly, which is why it’s always best to see an attorney as soon as possible.

How Many Medical Malpractice Related Deaths Occur Per Year?

This is a great question – and also a very difficult one to answer. The Institute of Medicine famously published the work “To Err is Human”, in which they stated that “as many as 98,000 people die in any given year from medical errors”. This has since been the statistic widely used by the media and recent news reports criticizing the medical industry. 

More recently, however, we’ve had a rise in reports citing numbers even more astronomically high. For example, Johns Hopkins published an article saying that the true number may be “more than 250,000 deaths per year.”

The final judgment on how many patients die from medical errors each year is still out. Remember, not every medical error is strictly a case of medical malpractice. Consult with a lawyer here at the Cochran Firm Philadelphia office to find out whether or not you may have been the victim of a medical malpractice case.

Medical Malpractice Lawyer Philadelphia

Looking for an attorney to consult with regarding your situation? Well, we’ve got your back! The Cochran Firm Philadelphia office offers a team of highly-qualified and experienced lawyers that would love to meet you. Not only will they help you evaluate whether or not you might have a medical malpractice case on your hands, but they also offer a shoulder to lean on.

We understand that legal cases can seem scary and daunting, which is why we put so much effort into making you feel as comfortable as possible. Simply call or visit our contact page to schedule your FREE consultation with one of our attorneys. 

The Cochran Firm Philadelphia office also works with cases related to personal injury, auto accidents, construction accidents, product liability, consumer fraud, police misconduct, and much more.