While at a hospital, patients can be treated by numerous healthcare providers, including doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, and medical technicians. All healthcare providers owe a professional duty to their patients. If a healthcare provider fails in his or her duty, it is called a breach in the standard of care and can lead to catastrophic injuries or death. When that happens, the provider has committed medical malpractice.
Patients go to a hospital for all types of care. Sometimes, that can be for an exciting, life-changing event like the birth of a child. Other times, it can be for a scheduled or elective surgery, or medical procedure to treat an ongoing medical issue. And sometimes, unfortunately, it can be due to an emergency or life-threatening medical condition that needs immediate attention. Regardless of the reason for seeking medical treatment at the hospital, every patient has a legal right to expect that the healthcare providers will act appropriately and diligently when they treat them. That right exists regardless of whether a patient receives care in the emergency room, the operating room, on the floor, or in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Most of the time, the healthcare providers that are caring for the patients act appropriately. While nothing is guaranteed with a medical treatment or procedure, there may be complications or bad outcomes that happen through no fault of the healthcare team at a hospital. But there are times when healthcare providers fail to act reasonably in their treatment of the patient, and in those situations, injuries can occur. In those situations, the healthcare provider may have committed medical malpractice or medical negligence, and you may be entitled to compensation for those injuries.
The attorneys at Morris James have litigated almost every type of hospital negligence claim. Some common types of claims include:
- Negligent actions by hospital staff
- Failure to monitor
- Failure to obtain informed consent
- Improper care decisions
- Mistakes made by medical professional technicians
- Surgical errors
- Prescription errors
- Wrongful Death
- Birth injuries
- Errors in charting and instructions
- Failure to report or respond to test results appropriately
While this list is not exhaustive, patients should realize that medical negligence may have been committed even with an elective procedure or even when a “known complication” occurs. For example, on many occasions, before a medical procedure, a doctor may specifically warn a patient of the “known complications” of the procedure, which may include injuries to organs or vessels during a surgery, an adverse reaction to a medication given in a hospital, or the need for additional medical procedures following a complication. Then, during or after the procedure, the patient develops a “known complication.” The patient may feel that, because the doctor stated ahead of time that the risk existed, there is not a basis to suggest that there was medical malpractice. That is not the case. Even when those “known complications” are realized, the doctor may have been negligent in causing the injuries and the need for further care. If those errors were caused by a healthcare provider’s negligence or unreasonable care, that may still be a basis for a medical malpractice claim against the doctor and hospital.
On the other hand, sometimes a doctor or other healthcare provider at a hospital may proceed forward with a medical procedure without giving a full and appropriate discussion of the risks, benefits and alternatives of the procedure. Without that knowledge, a patient cannot give informed consent to undergo the medical procedure. If harm ensues, the failure to obtain informed consent from the patient can lead to a medical malpractice claim.
On some occasions, a patient’s injury may not be due to a clear error by a single medical professional but instead due to a “breakdown” in the communication between medical providers. Some types of breakdowns that can occur and can injure patients are failures of a hospital system to report or convey the results of a radiologic study to the patient’s care team, errors in entering medications leading to improper doses, improper verbal or written instructions given to a patient, and missing information in a patient’s chart that is crucial to care for the patient properly. While not exhaustive, these types of “system” errors can cause just as much harm as errors by an individual medical professional and can be the result of medical malpractice.
While there are many other types of errors that can occur in a hospital, the end result in some cases is that, unfortunately, patients can suffer catastrophic injuries. In addition to the physical and mental toll that these can cause patients and their families, these can also lead to significant and unexpected medical bills, loss of earnings, prolonged hospitalizations, and other unforeseeable issues. More importantly, in some cases, the hospital and its staff will not tell the patient about the error that caused the injuries, leaving patients scared and confused as to their new injuries.
Whether your injury is due to one of these causes, or some other medical professional error, the attorneys at Morris James know how devastating they can be to a patient or family. In addition to the physical and emotional pain and suffering, these injuries can result in significant medical bills, and can prevent someone from working and earning a living. While no amount of money can ever make a patient whole after suffering an injury due to a hospital’s negligence, the Morris James medical malpractice team knows how to fight to make sure that their clients receive every penny that they deserve.
The lawyers of Morris James have been fighting for victims of negligence in Delaware since we opened our doors in 1932. We deal with lawyers and insurance companies so that you can focus on healing. Our medical malpractice attorneys know the strategies used to defend healthcare providers. We will fiercely advocate for our clients, going to trial when necessary, to obtain the financial compensation that you need to regain stability and security after your injury.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a hospital, we may be able to help. Our attorneys at Morris James are available to talk to you about your rights and the options that you have at this difficult time. Contact us online or call into one of our local Morris James offices in Delaware to find out more.
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