SERVING MISSISSIPPI, LOUISIANA AND ALABAMA
Health care professionals invest an enormous amount of time and resources learning how to best treat illnesses and physical maladies of all kinds. As a whole, their intention and dedication to healing and helping the sick cannot be questioned. This is not to say, however, that they don’t make mistakes.
Medical mistakes can and do happen and can be devastating. The National Academy of Sciences estimates that 98,000 Americans die as a result of “medical mistakes” each year.
Legally, medical mistakes are addressed by medical malpractice laws. It is a form of negligence involving a medical treatment provider or professional. Treatment providers may be held liable for injuries caused by medical mistakes.
The determination of whether or not a medical professional has committed medical malpractice is made by comparing the actions taken to a “reasonable” ideal: the actions that a comparable medical professional facing the same circumstances would have taken.
A bad treatment outcome is not the same thing as medical malpractice. The duty of the medical professional is not to heal everyone, but simply to do the best they can, to provide good care with reference to the accepted standards of the community and/or the accepted standards of a particular medical specialty.
What is Considered Medical Malpractice?
As we noted, a bad treatment outcome is not equivalent to medical malpractice. On the same note, a mistake is not necessarily medical malpractice. Medical professionals are prone to making judgment errors, the same as any other human being. However, they are held to a higher standard because of the responsibility they have in their profession.
To determine whether or not an act is malpractice, attorneys and investigators generally begin with one question: what would a professional with the same amount of training and experience do, given the information and circumstances that the original physician was in? This is known as the standard of care. If it is clear that the care provider acted in a way completely contrary to what a similarly educated professional would have done in that situation, there may be a medical malpractice case.
Medical malpractice cases also rely heavily on damages, as is the case with any personal injury claim. Perhaps a practitioner did act outside the standard of care when treating you. However, if they were able to correct their course and avoid causing you any injuries or financial losses, you have no damages. While it is frustrating and disheartening to know that a practitioner can make sizable errors without being held legally responsible, you likely do not have a case if there are no damages.
So now that you know what is not considered medical malpractice, what might be? Common medical malpractice cases often center on:
- Missed diagnoses or a misdiagnosis
- Surgical errors, including operations done on the incorrect patient or incorrect part of the body, left-behind instruments, and failure to follow hygiene protocols
- Medication errors
- Birth injuries
- Brain injuries
- Misread tests and scans leading to improper diagnosis or care recommendations
- Working outside one’s scope of practice
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
Many medical malpractice cases can be sorted into one of three common categories. While there are countless ways a provider or facility can err in their treatment of patients, they typically fall into one of these categories:
- Missed diagnosis, failure to diagnose, or misdiagnosis. Proper treatment begins with the proper diagnosis. Even if a doctor does eventually reach the correct diagnosis, they often lose precious time between the initial appointment and the final diagnosis. These delays can lead to worsened conditions or even death. For example, many types of cancer are highly treatable when caught early. However, if a doctor takes months to correctly identify it, this mistake could cause a patient to die from a disease that they may otherwise have recovered from.
- Birth injuries. Giving birth is one of the most dangerous times in an individual’s life; this is true both for the woman giving birth and the person being born. An OB/GYN must be able to think and act quickly to protect both patients. Failure to diagnose a prenatal issue can cause stillbirth or disability. A failure to order a C-section can lead to hypoxia and leave a baby with lifelong brain damage or cerebral palsy.
- Surgical errors. Patients are at their most vulnerable during surgery, when they are under anesthesia and unable to advocate for themselves. During these times, practitioners should take every precaution possible to protect patients. When they don’t and tragedy occurs, the patient or their surviving family members may have a medical malpractice case.
Determining Who Is Liable and Seeking Compensation
Medical malpractice is an incredibly complex area of law. Legislators have to balance the needs of all involved parties—doctors must be held accountable for their mistakes, of course, but laws must not be so stringent that they prevent skilled and experienced practitioners from entering the field, because that would lead to a healthcare crisis that limits availability. The result: a complex set of laws that strive to allow patients to recover compensation without limiting practitioners’ freedom to act in a way that they believe to be in each patient’s best interest.
That is why determining liability is a huge part of a medical malpractice case. You may believe that it is a cut-and-dry issue and that the doctor or nurse practitioner is the obvious culprit. While they may have some or all of the liability, this isn’t always the case. There are often systemic errors or oversights that created the conditions for the mistake to happen.
For example, a facility that refuses to enforce hygiene standards because of the extra time it takes before each procedure could be liable for surgical errors or infections. Similarly, a facility that requires doctors to work on little to no rest could be liable for creating an environment where they are highly likely to make mistakes.
We will walk you through our process of figuring out compensation. Medical malpractice victims are often entitled to compensation for:
- Medical expenses, including what they paid for the care that was mishandled and any expenses incurred in trying to fix or treat the error
- Lost wages, including future lost income if the treatment permanently impacted a victim’s ability to work or advance in their career
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish; medical malpractice can lead to anxiety, PTSD, and other issues that make it incredibly difficult to trust medical providers in the future
- Physical therapy expenses
- Loss of enjoyment of life
If you are planning on filing a medical malpractice claim, it is important to do so as soon as possible. In Mississippi, the clock begins as soon as an injury is or should have been discovered. From there, you have two years to file a claim.
- Cerebral Palsy
- Emergency Room Errors
- Failure to Diagnose Cancer
- Failure to Diagnose Heart Attack
- Medical Malpractice Damages
- Needle Stick
- Nursing Home Abuse
- Surgical Mistakes
- Types of Medical Malpractice
If you or a loved one is in need of legal assistance as a result of a medical error or mishap, contact the Mississippi medical malpractice attorneys at Reeves & Mestayer, PLLC at 228-300-2754 or toll free 1-855-558-2977 or contact us online. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds. In many cases, a lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations. Please call right away to ensure that you do not waive your right to possible compensation.