If that sounds like you, or if you’re interested in malpractice for some other reason, here’s 9 medical malpractice facts you should know.
9 Medical Malpractice Facts You Should Know
► One out of every three patients will be a victim of a medical error during their hospital stay. Truth is, there’s always going to be human error, but a third of all patients? That’s a lot.
► Malpractice reports indicate that over $4 billion was paid out for medical malpractice lawsuits, in 2018 alone. The average payout for a successful case was nearly $350,000. Money can’t fix what happened, but it can at least help. When you’re dealing with all of the emotional, physical, and financial turmoil malpractice causes, anything good helps.
► In 2018, payouts were for these top three malpractice allegations: 34.1% diagnosis, 21.4% surgery, and 21.1% treatment.
► You can’t wait too long to file a case. Every state is different, but there’s usually something called a “statute of limitations,” or a time frame you have to file. In Texas, for example, in most cases you have two years to seek legal action from the malpractice incident.
► Cases take time. Some are quicker than others, but it can take several months, and even years. Believe it or not, about 95% of cases settle out of court. This means that your law firm and the person or group you’re suing come to an agreement on their own.
► The majority of medical malpractice cases require no money up front. If your law firm believes you have a strong case they’ll actually foot the bill. If you win, your lawyer will receive an agreed upon percentage and will also be reimbursed legal fees. The good news is, if you lose you don’t owe them anything.
► Having a team of medical malpractice experts on your side is vital. In a malpractice suit, you’re usually going against giant corporations. You need expert witnesses and an experienced firm to win. Do your research and carefully select your firm.
We’ve all seen the commercials where the lawyer looks straight into the eyes of the camera and says “we’ll fight for you,” right?
It can be a bit cringey, but the truth is, nobody can fight for patients unless they reach out, and many malpractice victims don’t reach out until they’re aware they may have a case, and receive an invitation to fight for justice.
What are the 5 most common types of medical malpractice?
Let’s start with this — what do you think are the leading causes of death, in the United States?
Maybe heart disease comes to mind. Or cancer? We’ve all heard that word more than we should. Surely’s it’s high on the list.
How about accidents, diabetes, stroke? If you thought of any of these… you’re right. They’re all up there. In the top 12, in fact.
But medical malpractice? Many people wouldn’t think to mention that one.
According to a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins, “More than 250,000 people in the United States die every year because of medical mistakes, making it the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.” Yep.
Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in our country. How is that even possible in a country as developed as ours?
In this article we’re going to cover the five most common types of the third most common cause of death, medical malpractice.
1. Birth Injuries
If you’ve searched through our site at all, you’ve probably noticed that we talk a lot about birth injury malpractice. It’s because we’re passionate about fighting for justice for families who’s child has been injured because of negligence.
Every family deserves to bring a healthy baby home. Of course, there are unforeseen circumstances and health conditions that are unavoidable, but if something negligent did happen, someone needs to be held accountable.
Birth injuries can occur in many different ways, such as nerve injuries, cerebral palsy, medication mix ups, and misdiagnosis. These injuries are costly, not just financially, but physically and emotionally as well.
Sometimes the injury is obvious, and other times they may not notice for quite some time. Either way, it’s important you reach out to a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible, as you have a limited window of time to seek legal action.
2. Prescription Drug Mistakes
Each day millions of patients are treated in healthcare facilities across the country. It’s no easy feat, considering the numbers of patients compared to medical staff, and there’s always a need for more healthcare professionals. Some people pursue this field because of passion and the desire to help others. For others, maybe it’s for more practical reasons, like job security and good salary. Whatever the reason, the common thread among all medical professionals is that they’re human.
Humans make mistakes. Workers are often overworked and fatigued, which of course spikes the chance of a mistake occurring. Other times, people simply don’t pay enough attention. Whatever the reason, there has to be consequences for sloppy care. Errors like medication mix ups, prescribing errors, and overdoses shouldn’t happen.
It’s important that there’s clear communication among healthcare professionals, that charting is accurate and up to date, and that medications are labeled correctly.
All precautions need to be taken in order to avoid mistakes like these. But when people fail to take the proper precautions, mistakes happen, people get hurt, and they come to medical malpractice lawyers like us to seek justice and compensation.
3. Errors During Surgery
We’ve all heard stories of surgery gone wrong. Like a doctor sewing up a patient with a medical instrument left inside. It sounds crazy, but it happens, and more often than you might think.
Surgical errors aren’t limited to foreign objects left behind, but also:
Operating on the incorrect body part.
Damaging healthy organs while performing surgery.
Failure to properly monitor vitals and blood supply.
Not taking enough precautions to avoid infection.
Like prescription errors, surgical errors often occur because of negligence at the hands of healthcare professionals. Surgery is meant to correct an existing condition, not create new ones. If you think you may have a medical malpractice case, read Do I have a medical malpractice case?to find out, or give us a call.
Misdiagnosis happens a lot more than it should. In fact, diagnostic errors occur in 10%-30% of all medical cases. When a condition like heart disease or cancer is misdiagnosed, the results are often fatal. If you find an illness early on, the chances of survival are significantly higher. But what if you were diligent and expressed concerning symptoms to your doctor but they didn’t listen? Or maybe they didn’t take you seriously, and blew you off? Testing could have been done. Your medical record and family history should have been carefully scrutinized.
All too often patients don’t receive the treatment they should. If your doctor wasn’t comfortable with treating you, they should have referred you to someone who could. The worst scenario is knowing you could have survived had the disease been found earlier.
If this has happened to you or your loved one, reach out to an attorney. Poor care or untimely death because of misdiagnosis isn’t fair. There are things you or your family member can do to make it better.
5. Failure to Treat
So a diagnosis has been made… but the treatment wasn’t timely. Or you went in for surgery, but were released too soon and later got an infection. Healthcare professionals are responsible for seeing the big picture. Knowing which steps should be taken and how to get you back to health is a big part of their job.
There’s a reason you’re seeking care from a health care professional… because they went to school for years and trained to recognize signs and symptoms. They have the knowledge but if they’re not passing that on to you, what’s the point?
No one wants to think about medical malpractice. That probably why most people don’t realize that medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. But changes won’t happen if people don’t know the truth about malpractice, and what they can do if they become a victim of malpractice.
If you or your family member has dealt with any form of medical malpractice, please reach out to us or an attorney in your area. The first step can seem hard, but it’s probably much easier than you think, and it’s the only path to justice and compensation.
It’s hard to think of a more exciting yet simultaneously terrifying experience, than the birth of your child.
You’re carrying a precious life within you. You’d do anything to make sure your baby is healthy and safe.
Which is why you have to be prepared for anything.
While our medical system is better than it’s ever been, it’s still not perfect.
In the US, roughly 6 to 8 babies out of 1,000 suffer from a birth injury, and 76 birth injuries happen each day.* These injuries wouldn’t happen if proper medical care and attention were provided.
Fact is, it’s the hospital’s duty to provide quality care — doctors, nurses and midwives are in these positions for a reason, because they’re trained to be competent professionals. You shouldn’t have to think about your baby being at risk while in their care. But birth injuries still happen, and regularly.
Birth injury is incredibly difficult for the family. It creates physical, emotional, psychological and financial issues. However, when this happens, it’s somewhat reassuring to know that the medical professionals who contributed to medical negligence can be held accountable. And while nothing can ever truly compensate the injury of your child, compensation claims do help. They hold the responsible parties liable, provide justice, and help you recover from the financial toll.
Your birth injury lawsuit can help you recover loss from:
► Suffering and pain.
► Loss of joy and companionship
► Lost income due to caring for a disabled child.
► Medical and healthcare expenses.
What is a Birth Injury Compensation Claim?
When a hospital provides negligent medical care during childbirth, they’re liable to be sued and forced to pay compensation. They can be charged to compensate victims for both economic and non-economic damages. However, before you file a birth injury claim, make sure you have legitimate claim. Keep in mind that minor birth injuries such as bruising, swelling and discomfort are common problems that have no long-term effects, so they’re not worth suing for.
But when someone is negligent and complications arise, that automatically makes the hospital and/or medical professional liable for birth injury claims. This is especially true when the complications have long-term effects.
Examples of these complications which can occur to mothers and newborns include the following:
►Issues with suturing or stitching that cause post-natal infection.
► Delayed or misdiagnosed pre-eclampsia.
► Trauma or injuries caused by caesarean section errors.
► Internal tears or damage to the perineum.
► Premature separation of the placenta from the uterus or placenta abruption.
► Fractures, cuts or wounds found on the newborn.
► Muscular injuries to the newborn such as brachial plexus or Erb’s palsy.
► Brain injuries to the infant such as cerebral palsy.
► Post-natal shock or trauma.
Some people get stressed just thinking about filing a lawsuit. But if you think you have a case and you want compensation, you should get started as soon as possible.
How do I Prove They’re Liable for my Birth Injury Claim?
To make sure you have a valid claim, keep this in mind:
► You must have had a doctor/healthcare provider-patient relationship established.
► A doctor/healthcare provider was clearly negligent during treatment.
► The birth injuries were direct effects of negligence from the doctor/healthcare provider.
– Failure to recognize and treat possible infections.
– Providing an incorrect diagnosis.
Who Can File a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
Generally, the parents or legal guardians of the infant can file a birth injury lawsuit. After all the medical expenses incurred by the birth injury fall on their shoulders. For cases that show delayed birth injury effects such as cerebral palsy or other brain injuries, the child can make the claim, if he or she is 18 years of age or older. However, this can vary depending on the state you live in.
How Much Compensation will I get from my Birth Injury Claim?
Every claim is different, with different amounts. Also, some states put a limit on the maximum amount you can claim, especially for non-economic damages. That said, you can expect compensation for these expenses:
► Physical and/or occupational therapy.
► Medical treatment expenses associated with the injury.
► Home health care provisions.
► Special education expenses.
► Cost of earnings or salary, because you missed work.
► Counseling or other psychological and mental services.
► Special damages which are treatments or rehabilitation for long-term effects of the birth injury.
Will my Claim Help me With Attorney’s Fees & Charges?
Most lawyers who agree to take on birth injury lawsuits work on a contingency-fee basis which doesn’t require you to pay them immediately. Usually, the complainant and defendant will have a settlement agreement. In that case, you’ll be able to settle out of court. But if you can’t reach settlement, you’ll most likely go to trial. When you win the case and claim reimbursement, your attorney will usually just take a percentage of the total compensation claimed. Make sure you have a clear understanding and agreement with your attorney before starting your claim.
Will I be Able to Claim my Compensation Immediately?
Keep in mind that you won’t receive your compensation immediately. It’ll take time. Honestly, you probably won’t even receive any compensation within the year, but it’s still worth pursuing. Just be sure to keep all records and documents of your medical expenses throughout the process, to ensure maximum reimbursement. If you have a strong case, they may have to compensate for both past expenses and future ones.
If you believe you have a birth injury case, please reach out to us or a law firm in your area. We’re here for you.
It’s easy to look at famous people and think they have it all.
Looks, fame, money, and status. Who doesn’t want that? But look past the shiny exterior and of course, they’re human like everyone else. Human beings face illness, family difficulties, and sometimes even tragedy. Celebrities are no exception.
Medical malpractice is right behind heart disease and cancer as the third leading cause of death. Celebrities are no more immune to medical malpractice than they are to the sickness that brought them to the hospital to begin with. Sure, they have access to the most acclaimed doctors and facilities, but money can’t buy everything. There’s still medication mix ups, botched surgeries, and human error, even for society’s elite.
Keep reading to hear about celebrity medical care gone wrong, and what they did to seek justice.
You may know her as Mary Poppins, or Maria von Trapp, two iconic roles that made her famous. For decades, Julie Andrews has graced cinema with her talent. She brought songs like “The Hills Are Alive” and “A Spoon Full Of Sugar” into the world with the soprano voice most people know her by.
But in 1997, everything changed. Andrews’ went in for a throat procedure to remove non-cancerous nodules on her vocal chords. A typically low risk procedure stole away one of Andrews’ most precious assets — her ability to sing.
The lawsuit which was filed in Manhattan, against Mt. Sinai Hospital, alleged that the surgery, which is quite routine for singers, was botched.
It’s hard to put a price tag on the thing that’s brought you fame and fortune but this is what Andrews’ had to say about it, “Singing has been a cherished gift, and my inability to sing has been a devastating blow.”
Her voice has never truly recovered, stealing potential roles, and earnings but fortunately Andrews’ has moved on with her life, and was able to receive the compensation she deserved though a lawsuit.
Double the trouble but double the sweetness… They say you can never fully prepare yourself for twins, but in the end, it’s worth it. Well that end nearly came decades too early for the Quaid family.
For Dennis Quaid (you may remember him from the famous “Parent Trap,” “The Rookie,” or “The Good Stuff”) the birth of his twins turned into a complicated medical emergency, practically overnight. In 2007, Quaid and his wife Kimberly welcomed twins Thomas and Zoe via surrogate. Days later they diagnosed the twins: staph infections. While receiving treatment at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, the hospital gave the twins a nearly lethal dose of Heparin (a blood thinner). Instead of giving the 10 units of Heparin the doctor ordered, they gave each child 10,000 units. This happened not once, but twice.
The babies were black and blue, and bleeding out.
Not only did the hospital staff fail to notice they administered the wrong dose, the manufacturer of the medication refused to correct the process, even after they repeated the same mistake with their products.
Turns out the label for 10 units is nearly identical to the label for 10,000 units, and without taking another glance nurses grabbed the wrong one.
According to U.S. Pharmacopeia: “Between 2001 and 2006 more than 16,000 heparin errors were blamed on incorrect dosing.”
The Quaid twins became victims, failed by the manufacturer, the pharmacy technician, and the nursing staff. Thankfully both children survived and now appear to be just as healthy as anyone else their age.
Quaid believes the near tragedy is going “to raise public awareness and to get something done about computerized record keeping and bar coding in hospitals. That’s going to save lives—a lot of lives.”
According to Rivers’ daughter Melissa, the doctors at Yorkville Endoscopy were grossly negligent. They performed a laryngoscopy in addition to the endoscopy, but nobody had consented to this additional procedure. The physicians at Yorkville took the liberty of performing a procedure that neither Joan Rivers nor her family had agreed to.
Not only that, the anesthesiologist on duty warned against the procedure because she was concerned about her patient’s oxygen levels. And that’s exactly what happened. A loss of oxygen led to brain damage and ultimately her death.
Adding insult to injury, one of the doctors took a selfie of Joan while she was on the table having the procedure. Unprofessional? We think so.
Can you imagine the emotional stress a person must go through before having open heart surgery? Just wrapping your head around what’s about to happen and what your odds of recovery are. As if that’s not stressful enough, how would you feel if you found out that your doctor performed surgery on the wrong artery, and you may need to do it again?
WHAT? For the famous comedian Dana Carvey, this actually happened.
When the surgery was over, he thought the worst was behind him and he could move on with his life and career. Soon after he began experiencing the same symptoms he had prior to surgery. And then, they discovered the mistake.
This is what Carvey had to say about it,”I remember just lying in my bed just sobbing, I can’t believe they connected it to the wrong artery. I was absolutely just terrified that I was going to have another open heart surgery,” he said.
Fortunately he didn’t have to experience open heart surgery again, but did require an angioplasty to clear the blocked artery.
Dana Carvey ended up settling his $7.5 million dollar lawsuit. What’s even more amazing is that Carvey donated all of his earnings to charity! So happy ending for this one, sort of.
Now, as riveting as the stories above are, there’s many other famous malpractice cases, some of which are just as interesting.
Mistakes happen. Whether you’re famous or not, everyone endures difficult situations in one way or another. If there’s one difference from celebrities and everyone else, it’s this. Oftentimes, people without fame, power or wealth don’t realize they can fight for justice too.
Like the Quaid twins or Dana Carvey, we can use our stories to help others. Whether you’re fighting for change or seeking compensation for malpractice, each one of us deserves the same opportunity.
If you or your family has been a victim of malpractice please reach out to us or a law firm in your area.
We all know medical malpractice is a major problem. Thankfully there are laws that help protect patients from incompetent healthcare providers. But have you ever wondered if you can sue the military for medical malpractice?
You would think so. Sadly, you can’t if you belong to the group of 1.3 million active duty military members.
Members of our armed forces can’t file a lawsuit against government healthcare providers. Even if the nurse or provider treating them was completely incompetent and caused harm.
This means that the people who risk their lives to protect our country don’t have the same privileges or protection that we do.
Seems unfair. But could that change? More on that soon.
Can You Sue The Military? (Medical Malpractice Laws)
Suing the government is very long and tedious. That said, if something happens to you, you’d probably want the option to sue for compensation. Now, for most of us, the government allows this under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
If you’re active duty military however, brace yourself for an unpleasant surprise. Active members of the military do NOT have the right. But why?
The Feres Doctrine
The reason active members of the military can’t sue the military for medical malpractice has to do with a little something called The Feres Doctrine. It’s a law that originates from the famous Feres v. United States case (dating back to the 1950’s). It’s a controversial case where active service members became unable to file medical malpractice lawsuits against the federal government.
Based on the rule, active duty members can’t sue the military for injuries and damages that occurred during their duties. Even when it’s blatantly clear that someone is at fault. The bill also denies military dependents the ability to sue the federal government for any claims that involve active service members.
So, say your spouse experiences malpractice by a military medical professional. Maybe a nurse administered the wrong medication or a doctor misdiagnosed an illness. No matter the severity or the cause, you can’t sue.
Who Can Sue The Military Doctors?
Okay, so unless the law changes, active service members can’t sue the military. But who can?
There are exceptions but the following groups often have the right to seek legal action:
Military dependents or spouses and children of an active service member (even a newborn child born to an active duty mother, who experiences a birth injury).
Retired military personnel who received injuries caused by substandard medical treatment at VA (Veteran Administration), DOD, and other federal healthcare facilities.
Veterans who received inadequate medical treatment at a VA facility or other federal hospitals.
And here’s an interesting tidbit. Service members can actually seek compensation for emotional distress should their family member be injured under military care.
The New Bill to Change the Current Ruling About Suing The Military For Malpractice
Most of us would agree that our service members should be treated with respect. People who dedicate their lives to serve our country deserve the same medical legal rights as everyone else.
Recently, partisan party created a new measure to change the outdated ruling.
A heart-jerking testimony from victims of military medical malpractice initiated the bill. A group of lawmakers then announced new legislation that would amend the current law.
This new rule would give all military personnel safe medical treatment:
“We’re not talking about special treatment. We’re talking about giving service members the same rights as their spouses, federal workers, and even prisoners. When compensation schemes are insufficient, service members should have their claims heard in the justice system.”-Rep. Jackie Speier.
Military medical malpractice, as we all know, is inevitable. U.S. legislation protects most of us and allows us to sue the military for malpractice. So that’s good. But again, active duty service members cannot.
The silver lining at the end of this tunnel is the new bill that will hopefully change that. Amending the Feres doctrine will hold military doctors accountable to provide safe and competent medical treatment for all military members and dependents, including the 1.3 million active duty members in the US.
Fact is, you might. And you might not. Common sense doesn’t always dictate in the court of law, and what may seem like a clear cut lawsuit may not be. But one way or the other, this is a great place to start. Because you’ll be able to either confirm that you have a case, or that you don’t.
Let’s start with the home runs. That is, if you answer yes to one of the questions below, it’s looking good. Really good.
YES = You Likely Have A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Did they leave a surgical sponge or other foreign object inside of you after performing surgery?
This happens waaaay more than it should. 4,000-6,000 times more than it should. Yep. You read that right — in the US, 4,000 cases are reported each year, of surgical items being left inside a patient. And experts believe the actual number is closer to 6,000! That means that roughly 12 US surgeons per day who sew up their patients only to remember they’d left a foreign object inside of them. Oops. BIG oops.*
FYI, here’s a few of the most common objects left inside a patient:
► Scalpels: Blades for making surgical incisions.
► Retractors: Tool that holds incisions open.
► Sponges: Material not unlike gauze, to soak up blood and keep it from pooling.
► Clips/clamps: Tools used to pinch off blood vessels.
► Needles: Used to sew stitches and sutures.
Next up, the unwanted operation.
Did they perform an operation on you that you did not need?
Home run number two. If they operate on your arm to remove a tumor, but it turns out your x-rays had been switched with another patient’s and you don’t have a tumor after all, guess what? That’s medical malpractice. Time to talk to a malpractice attorney and plan your lawsuit.
Did they perform an operation on you that was meant to be for a different patient?
Patient A needs their tonsils removed. You (patient B) need lower back surgery. They remove your tonsils. Not cool, but congrats — that’s malpractice. You sir or ma’am, have a medical malpractice case. Same goes for the wrong part of the body, which brings us to question 4:
Did they operate on the wrong part of your body?
Let’s say you go in for an appendectomy. They put you under for the procedure. You wake up expecting to feel a little sore in, you know, your appendix region. But instead, you wake up to a missing leg. Yikes. That’s a home run and then some — time to call the best malpractice lawyer you can find, because you just might have a case.
Did they perform surgery without your consent? (Non-emergency only.)
You wake up confused and sore. Questions are asked. “Wait, why on earth didn’t you ask me first?!” you project, eyes justifiably bulging. They fumble around with some silly answers including how they’re legally clear to perform emergency operations without consent. But a vasectomy? That hardly seems like a justifiable emergency to you. And you’d be right to second guess. Grab the nearest attorney and sue away. (Actually just kidding — find the best attorney and medical staff.)
Did they fail to inform you about a significant risk? (A risk that has more than a 5% chance of occurring.)
Here’s the situation. Your doctor solemnly tells you that you have a narrowed carotid artery that needs to be opened so you don’t have a stroke. “Great!” you smile, and the next thing you know, your surgeon inserts a stent into your femoral artery, threads it through until he reaches your carotid, then inflates a balloon through the stent, successfully expanding your carotid artery. Yay! Wait no, not yay — they didn’t tell you the mortality rate, did they? Nope. 32% – that’s the mortality rate at two years after this sort of operation. That’s a big no-no and it’s on you to lower the hammer of justice.
Now, if you answered yes to any one of these questions, you almost definitely have a medical malpractice case. Congrats! What’s next? Give us a call, and we’ll walk you through the process to get you paid! It can be annoyingly complex, but that’s why we’re here — so it doesn’t have to be for you.
So how do you know if you have a medical malpractice case if you didn’t have a yes for any the questions above?
Read on, to our “not-quite-home-runs-but-still-possibly-a-case-q-and-a.”
YES = You Might Have A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Were you injured during a medical procedure or because of a treatment?
Now, this may seem like an obvious win. You’re suffering in some way because your doctor messed up! But not all mess ups are considered malpractice.
That said, if you believe you’re suffering because your doctor messed something up, and you’re a smart, reasonable person, there’s a pretty good chance you’re right.
And this is the best part. All it takes is a quick call to find out.
Do you believe your doctor’s or nurse’s treatment was below medical standards?
The big question here is why? If you have a good reason, the best thing you can do is immediately contact the best attorney you know. The average medical malpractice settlement is over $425,000 and the average jury award is over $1 million. 9 out of 10 cases settle.* You don’t want to give up a chance to win $.5 million to $1 million, do you?
Does your doctor have a sketchy past littered with malpractice?
This is far from a home run, but still a pretty solid indicator that you’re on the right path. But how do you find out? Dig up their medical history online! You can use this online physician search tool from the Federation of State Medical Boards to look your doctor up.
Even if you don’t suspect a doctor of malpractice, and just want to know who is treating you or your family (or maybe you have a new doctor) it’s always nice to know that you’re in good hands. And if you’re not, you can find a better doctor!
Last but not least — there’s one automatic disqualifier you should know about. Sadly, your window of opportunity isn’t open forever. With that in mind, the next section will help you determine whether yours is or isn’t.
Are you within your state’s statute of limitations?
This is a biggy. If the answer to this question is no, I’m sorry to say, you don’t have a medical malpractice case.
How do you find out?
Well, let’s start with this. As of the date this article was written (and aside from suing government agencies), every state gives you at least a year. For example, here in Houston and the rest of Texas, you have up to 2 years after the day of the personal injury incident.