When you put your health in the hands of a medical professional, a certain moral and legal standard of care must be provided. When this standard is not met, patients can get hurt – or worse.
Medical malpractice is responsible for roughly 100,000 patient deaths each year, according to the Institute of Medicine. In the unfortunate situation of a wrongful death, the victim’s family has the legal right to be compensated for their loss.
Read below to learn more about medical malpractice and its legal implications…
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice can be defined as the negligence of a health care provider in which substandard treatment was provided that directly caused injury or death to a patient.
Medical malpractice generally comes in one of two forms:
- The negligence of physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who are employed by the hospital.
- The hospital’s own negligence in policies and procedures.
Negligence of Employees
Not every medical mistake qualifies as negligence or malpractice. While medical malpractice can take many different forms, some common examples include:
- A doctor unreasonably fails to diagnose, or misdiagnoses, a medical condition.
- A physician provides incorrect treatment.
- A surgeon operates on the wrong part of the body, or leaves a piece of equipment inside the body.
- A doctor makes a birthing error that causes injury and potentially permanent complications for the newborn.
Negligence of the Hospital
The hospital itself can also be negligent in the way it handles its patients, employees, and equipment. Some examples of hospital negligence include:
- Failing to verify its employees are competent, safe, and properly licensed.
- Failing to fire incompetent, unsafe, or unlicensed employees.
- Failure to establish proper patient safety protocols
- Failure to properly maintain or repair equipment
Suing for Malpractice
If you have lost a family member due to medical malpractice, you may have the legal right to compensation. Generally, the heirs to the deceased victim are the plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- If the victim was a child, the heirs are the parents.
- If the victim was married, the heirs are the spouse and any children.
- If the victim was not married, the heirs are the children.
- If the victim was not married and had no children, the heirs are the parents. If the parents are not alive, the heirs would be the victim’s siblings.
As previously mentioned, medical malpractice is much more than a simple mistake. If you plan on suing for medical malpractice, four elements must be proven in the court of law:
- the existence of a patient-doctor relationship
- the provision of care that fell below the accepted medical standard
quantifiable harm to the patient
- a connection between the provider’s negligence and the patient’s harm
Medical malpractice laws can be complicated, and vary from state to state. It is best to consult with a licensed medical malpractice attorney to discuss your legal options.
Stewart Law Offices offers legal representation for medical malpractice victims and their families throughout North Carolina and South Carolina. Contact us online to get started with a free consultation, or call our attorneys anytime at 866-STEWART.