Imagine waking up from an operation and discovering that your surgeon has amputated your healthy leg and left your diseased leg is still attached. That happened to a 51-year-old Florida man in 1995. The case made national news1 and was the inspiration for surgeons and hospitals across the country to change some of their pre-surgical practices. Unfortunately, those changes have not prevented medical malpractice from still occurring. A news organization recently published an article revealing that in recent years, New York City paid $123 million to settle medical malpractice claims against its public hospitals. That, of course, does not include any information about medical malpractice claims against private hospitals or individual health care providers. Understanding what is medical malpractice and who can be the subject of a medical malpractice lawsuit is critical to protecting your legal rights.
Lawsuits for general negligence are based on allegations that a person acted, or failed to act, with the ordinary care that a reasonable person in the same situation would have acted. There are certain elements that must be met, including proving the person you claim was negligent had a duty to act, and breached that duty by acting without due care or failing to act altogether, which caused harm to the plaintiff who suffered damages as a result.4Medical malpractice is a form of negligence, and has been defined as “any act or omission by a physician during treatment of a patient that deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community and causes an injury to the patient.” 4 A member of the medical community, in the specific discipline as the provider alleged to be negligent, must testify that the care that was provided fell below the standard of care in the community. This is how your case will be evaluated whenever you are using a doctor for medical negligence.
You can sue the hospital for negligence. Hospitals can be held liable for their own negligence, and can also be held liable for the negligence of their employees under the doctrine of vicarious liability. This means that by hiring the doctors, physicians, nurses, laboratory and x-ray technicians, the hospital assumes liability for any negligence on the part of any of its employees, including its healthcare providers in all disciplines.5 There are different types of medical malpractice.
There are a number of errors that can occur in an operating room.
Any one of these errors can result in pain and suffering, extra procedures to repair the damage, or even permanent disability and death.
Diagnostic errors can take the form of misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose. Both can have drastic, life-changing results.
One of the saddest things that can happen is for a baby, who was a normal fetus throughout a woman’s pregnancy, to be damaged during the birthing process. The birthing process is considered to be during labor, delivery, and shortly after delivery. Some of the most common birth injuries include:
Anyone who prescribes fills a prescription or administers medication can be liable for medical malpractice. This includes physicians, nurses, pharmacists, technicians for MRIs, and other imaging tests. Some examples include:
Pharmaceutical companies, meaning those who manufacture medications, are generally not liable to consumers. This is particularly true if they have provided information to the prescribing physicians concerning the risks and side effects of the medication. It is the doctor or pharmacist’s duty to relay that information to the patient.5
Not every unpleasant outcome amounts to medical malpractice. If you believe you have a claim but are unsure who may be liable, we invite you to discuss your claim with one of our skilled malpractice attorneys. Understanding the strength of your claim is the first step to building a case for compensation. To speak with a Manhattan medical malpractice attorney about your legal options, contact us online or call 212-268-3222 for a free consultation.