Medical malpractice lawsuits are those in which a plaintiff alleges that they suffered injury as a result of the errors or omissions committed by a health care professional that constituted professional negligence. The key to prevailing in such a case is to demonstrate that the treatment provided by the physician or health care worker at issue dropped below the appropriate and accepted standard of care in their particular field or specialty. The negligent action must be shown to be the cause of the injury sustained, and demonstrable damages must have occurred.
Damage awards in medical malpractice cases fall into two primary categories, namely economic damages and non-economic damages. The latter type of damages include things such as the emotional distress, suffering and loss enjoyment resulting from the injury at issue. These can often be difficult to quantify, and can be contentious matters indeed.
Economic damages are somewhat easier to determine, as they include tangible amounts such as the money spent out of the victim’s pocket to meet expenses pertaining to the injury and also the lost wages and lost future income resulting from the malpractice. Though a thorough analysis performed by an economic loss expert will likely be required in order to demonstrate the true amount of loss, this is often a more straightforward process than attempting to reach a fair dollar value for non-economic damages.
The out-of-pocket expenses that stem from actionable medical malpractice encompass things such as bills for hospitalization, prescription drug costs, physical and occupational therapy expenses, nursing care costs and the like. The cost of making the victim’s home handicap accessible can also be included in this calculation. Even if these expenses were initially paid by an insurance carrier, they can still be included in a claim for damages.
The concept of lost wages represents the other primary type of economic damages in a medical malpractice case, and can add up to a very substantial sum, depending on the type of injury sustained. This figure includes the income a victim of medical malpractice resulting in injury or wrongful death would have earned over the course of their lifetime had the relevant event not occurred. Both past and future earnings are to be included in the total recoverable amount.
Because the impact of medical malpractice can be truly devastating not only to the victim, but also their family members, it is necessary to understand the full scope of available remedies. Knowing the things that can rightly be part of the damage claims in such cases is a good way to ensure that justice is indeed served.
Medical Malpractice in the ER
Medical malpractice can strike at any time, resulting in severe injury or even death to its victims. One of the most common sources of medical malpractice is the emergency room or ER. Today’s ERs are increasingly putting patients at risk of severe injury and death, even when they are visiting the ER for quite minor medical conditions.
While the emergency room is expected to provide highly effective care to those individuals who are brought in by their families or emergency services, the fact is that many ERs are poorly managed, overcrowded, and prone to making avoidable errors in treatment. In addition, many hospitals have a policy of attempting to send ER patients home as quickly as possible, often without conducting a proper pre-discharge evaluation of their medical condition.
Types of Malpractice in the Emergency Room
When an individual visits an ER, he or she may be exposed to a number of different types of medical malpractice. Among the most common types of actions that can result in a medical malpractice lawsuit are the following:
• Long waiting periods between being admitted and being seen by a qualified physician.
• An avoidable misdiagnosis leading to improper care for the patient.
• Nurses or doctors administering or prescribing incorrect or dangerous drugs for the patient.
• A failure to effectively monitor the patient during his or her stay in the ER.
• Releasing the patient before his or her condition is stabilized. This is an especially common practice when the patient is indigent or uninsured.
In many of these cases, the patient may suffer severe injury or death due to avoidable medical malpractice. For example, many individuals suffering obvious symptoms of a heart attack have been forced to endure long waits in an emergency room, often resulting in their condition deteriorating beyond recovery by the time they are seen by a qualified doctor.
Malpractice and Legal Compensation
When an individual suffers due to medical malpractice, he or she can obtain compensation from the responsible parties. In general, this compensation usually includes the following:
• The cost of any medical care the individual must receive, including both long and short-term medical treatment.
• Compensation for any lost wages or work opportunities.
• Compensation for the mental and physical pain and suffering the individual endured.
• Should the instance of medical malpractice result in the death of the victim, his or her family can obtain compensation for the loss of emotional and material support from the decedent.
• In cases of egregious negligence, the court may choose to impose punitive damages in addition to any real damages.
Medical malpractice in the ER can devastate a family. Because of this, this field is seeing a growing amount of litigation designed to protect the rights of those individuals who find themselves facing avoidable injury or death at the hands of negligent emergency room staff or management.
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