Medical Malpractice – When Doctors Make Mistakes

Medical professionals are charged with doing everything within their power to help a patient heal from an illness or injury. But sometimes a health care provider can deviate from an accepted standard of care, causing further injury or even death.

What is Medical Malpractice?dollar sighn and a doctors stetoscope

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider breaches, or violates, the standard of care, which then results in injury to a patient. A medical malpractice lawsuit is one form of a personal injury lawsuit.

The standard of care is the generally accepted method which a healthcare professional should administer to a patient who is afflicted with a specific condition. The standard of care will vary depending on the condition being treated and the age of the patient.

Am I Eligible To File A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Statute of Limitations

New York’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice, meaning the maximum amount of time that an injured person can wait to file a lawsuit, is two and a half years. This time period goes into effect when the act that caused the injury takes place, or at the end of continuous treatment that caused harm.

There is one exception to this rule – foreign body cases. Patients may not be aware that a doctor left a foreign object in the body cavity, and in some cases the patients do not show clinical signs or symptoms until years later. In these cases, the patient may file a lawsuit within one year after the object was discovered.

Damages

Damages are the award that a victim seeks as compensation for their injuries. In New York, three types of damages can be awarded to medical malpractice victims:

  • Compensatory damages – these damages compensate for medical costs and loss of wages.
  • Non-economic damages – these compensate for things like emotional distress and pain and suffering.
  • Punitive damages – this can only be awarded in specific circumstances. In order to be awarded punitive damages, proof that the doctor knew that he or she was behaving in a harmful manner must be given. This can be sought in cases of fraud or if the medical professional acts with malice.

Common Causes of Medical Malpractice

All it takes is one second of inattention or carelessness for irreparable damage to occur. In 2013, William McCormack was admitted into a hospital where he thought he had an appendectomy performed to treat his appendicitis.

Unexpectedly, one year later, he returned to a different hospital with similar symptoms only to be told that he still had an appendix which needed to be surgically removed. McCormack has since filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against his first surgeon for failing to remove the organ.

The majority of medical malpractice lawsuits involve the following errors:

  • Failure to diagnose a condition
  • Improper treatment
  • Prescription drug error
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Surgical mistake – performing the incorrect surgery or performing surgery on the wrong part of the body
  • Birth injuries

Professionals Who May Be Held Liable For Malpractice

It isn’t just doctors who may be held liable for malpractice. Other medical professionals capable of medical malpractice include:

  • Nurses
  • Paramedic
  • Midwife
  • EMT
  • Pathologists
  • Physical Therapist

Each of these health professionals has to undergo rigorous training and testing to obtain the necessary license to practice in their field, and should be held to the standards of that license.

A Successful Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Our client was walking in a mall parking lot when he tripped over an uncovered valve box in the parking lot. When he fell, he fractured his elbow. He was immediately taken to the hospital where he was seen by an orthopedic surgeon. Despite reporting intense pain to both the doctor and nurses, his surgery was scheduled for several days later.

During this time, necrosis set in which destroyed both muscles and nerves. Due to the necrosis, he suffered from a well-known complication of this type of injury known as compartment syndrome. He was unable to regain full function and range of motion in his injured arm.

We sued the admitting hospital and the orthopedic surgeon on his behalf. At the end of litigation, the defendants settled with our client for $6,300,000.

When Should I Consult A Lawyer?

If you or a loved one have suffered due to a negligent or malicious act performed by a medical professional, you should seek a consultation with a lawyer as soon as possible to determine what your legal options are. As previously noted, the New York statute of limitations for medical malpractice is only two and half years, so the time to act is now.

The lawyers at the Lipsig Firm understand that medical malpractice cases are unique and are well versed in the intricacies of the rules and laws that apply. Contact us today for a free consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you pay nothing until we win.