How to Know If You Have a Medical Malpractice Case
Medical mistakes are, unfortunately, very common, particularly in hospitals. However, it is surprisingly rare when a patient knows that a mistake has been made. Diagnosis errors alone account for about 160,000 deaths a year but only 15,000 to 19,000 medical malpractice lawsuits are filed in this country every year.
So how do you know if you have a case?
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is simply the failure of a health care provider to practice in a reasonably prudent manner. There are standards of care in medicine, some found in practice guidelines or hospital policies, some simply “rules of the road” that are taught in medical school. Violation of the standard of care is medical malpractice.
According to a report published in Health Affairs, one out of every three hospitalized patients in this country experiences a hospital error. Some of the most common hospital errors that occur include:
- Incorrect medication or incorrect dosage
- Foreign objects, such as surgical tools, left inside a patient’s body
- Infections, some of which are potentially fatal
- Pressure ulcers
These mistakes are the result of negligence, medical malpractice, but do they give rise to a viable medical malpractice case?
What is a viable Medical Malpractice case?
In order to be viable the malpractice must cause an injury.
Houston drivers run red lights and stop signs all the time. If they injure someone, they will be liable. However, if they don’t, there is no civil liability. They might get a ticket, but they won’t have to pay an injured victim. Likewise, in a medical setting, the error must cause harm. The cause must be direct and the result must be foreseeable. That’s called “proximate cause.”
And the reality is that the harm must be significant. Medical malpractice cases are very expensive. The cost of investigation, expert consultation, and development of complicated evidence is high. Hampton & King recently concluded a case in which we spent $150,000. Unless the damages justify a similar commitment of resources, the case is not viable. This means that patients who do not have serious, permanent injury often have no practical resource. That is a shame, but it is reality, given the protections that the law affords to health care providers.
The malpractice must be provable. Medical malpractice cases are unique in that the defendant often has extensive control over the evidence necessary to prove his negligence. Patients are often under anesthesia when the event happens, and medical procedures are so complicated that laymen can rarely identify a mistake. Medical records are written by the very individuals whose conduct is being judged.
Patients, and their families, rarely know exactly what went wrong.
If you or your loved one suffered a serious, unexpected injury during medical care, you should select an experienced medical malpractice firm to investigate the case. Our firm has extensive experience and resources, including a full-time M.D. and a Ph.D. nurse on staff, and we know how to find out what happened.
We consult with some of the top physicians in the nation during the development of our clients’ cases and select the most qualified available expert witnesses.
Houston Medical Malpractice Attorneys
At Hampton & King, our Houston medical malpractice attorneys are more than equipped to handle your medical malpractice case. With more than 60 years of combined legal experience, and a proven track record of success, including hundreds of millions of dollars recovered for past clients, you can be confident in our ability to do the same for you. If you suspect you were injured by a negligent medical professional, you will need a firm who knows how to investigate these complicated cases.
We handle cases on a contingency basis, which means you will not owe us any legal fees or expenses unless we win your case, because we believe you should focus on your recovery.
For an attorney who will be personally invested in your case, contact our firm today at (713) 489-0993 to schedule a free consultation.