People go to see the doctor when ill or after suffering a serious injury. When you make an appointment to see your doctor, you trust that the doctor will help to improve your condition or injury – not make it worse. Doctors and other healthcare providers hold people’s lives in their hands. Consequently, when providers make serious medical mistakes, they can and should be held responsible for their negligence.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, stating that “true consent to what happens to one’s self is the informed exercise of a choice, and that entails an opportunity to evaluate knowledgeably the options available and the risks attendant upon each … it is the prerogative of the patient, not the physician, to determine for himself the direction in which his interests seem to lie.”
For example, John Smith went to his local doctor because he had a black spot on his foot and his leg was painful. His doctor sent him to a surgeon who suggested a special procedure using a needle inserted into his leg artery to see whether the veins in John’s foot were blocked. The surgeon botched the procedure and John’s artery was damaged. Several weeks later John’s leg had to be amputated. When John consulted a lawyer and the lawyer investigated his claim, the lawyer found that John’s original foot condition was gangrene and he was always going to have to have his leg amputated, so the surgeon’s negligence in performing the procedure did not leave John worse off than he would otherwise have been and he fails the test of causation.
Five days later, Della Casa, an author and dating coach in Chicago, was traveling and had pains so severe she could barely move. When she received a voicemail from her doctor saying she had “misread her results” and needed to be treated immediately for a kidney infection, she was furious. “I decided then and there I would never see her again,” Della Casa tells WebMD.
In most cases, doctors are not considered the direct employee of the hospital, but rather independent contractors. However, in some situations, doctors are employees. Doctors are more likely to be found to be employees of the hospital if the hospital controls the doctor’s working hours, vacation time and the fee schedule for the doctor’s services. In a few exceptions, a hospital may be found to be liable for a non-employee doctor’s services.
Specifically, in arena of medical negligence, physician has duty to use that degree of care and skill which is expected of reasonably competent practitioner in same class to which physician belongs acting in same or similar circumstances. Unlike ordinary negligence cases, proving that a health care professional breached his or her duty of care involves showing what a reasonably competent health care professional would have done in a similar situation - and that your doctor didn't.
In order to prove medical negligence, one must show that their doctor deviated from the accepted level of medical care that could have been reasonably expected from a physician. Deviations that may support a medical malpractice claim include: surgical errors; medication errors; infections from hospitals; delayed diagnosis of cancer; cerebral palsy; paralysis; pulmonary embolus; spinal cord injury; strokes, heart attacks; brain injury; breast cancer; birth injury; tools, sponges, towels or objects left behind in your body after surgery; surgery on the wrong site; treatment without your informed consent; being given the wrong medication or the wrong dose; being treated with unsterile equipment; or a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a serious condition.
Your attorney should also disclose “bad facts” in the opening statement. A bad fact is anything the defense would want to bring to the jury’s attention because it makes the defense case much stronger. For example, your failure to follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment is a bad fact. By disclosing bad facts first, your attorney can take the sting out of them.
3. Evidence - keep track of any evidence which could be relevant to your case. Keep detailed records of your appointments with your GP, together with records of any telephone consultations and referral appointments. Your solicitor will arrange to obtain and copy of your medical notes and x-rays. You will have to pass this information on to your lawyer and it will be a lot easier if you have it at hand. Keep any prescriptions, receipts from further treatments, notes of further treatment and a diary detailing the progression of your health issues. For example, if you fell ill with appendicitis and your GP failed to diagnose it, you should keep a note of the progression of your condition, if you are well enough to do so. All of this is not vital, but very helpful.
Expert witnesses, copies of medical records, deposition and witness fees, medical exams -- all of these things cost money. And if you lose your case, you could very well be on the hook for thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in expenses - depending on your legal fee agreement. Is your case important enough to you that you feel the potential financial benefit outweighs the risk?
Trying to get an appointment in my area (Cornwall) is harder than ever. It’s made me lose faith and feel daily that there is no point even trying. I’m currently experiencing Bipolar symptoms and I want to be able to get diagnosed with this, but this is impossible without seeing a GP first. You can ring every day, early in the morning for a week and you’d still get nowhere. Something has to change. This is a failing system.
The 1960's were a critical moment in the history of medical malpractice litigation in the US. The frequency of suits saw an enormous uptick. Contributing factors included new, complex treatments which allowed for more error or injury; what the AMA described as a "changing legal landscape that removed barriers to lawsuits and changed liability rules"; and finally changes in satisfaction with health care. This caused medical professionals to lobby for federal intervention in the realm of medical tort litigation. Legislators attempt to take an evenhanded approach that would excessively favor neither plaintiff nor defendant. As every state is afforded the right to legislate medical malpractice laws independently without federal oversight, the approach differs from state to state. There are two competing schools of thought that weigh into the manner of legislation regarding medical malpractice. The American Medical Association writes “Physicians and physician organizations have tended to view most medical malpractice claims as spurious and injurious to the medical system, whereas patient advocates view the malpractice system as both a deterrent against the practice of dangerous medicine and an avenue for much-deserved compensation for injured patients.”
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A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis itself is not evidence of negligence. Skillful doctors can and do make diagnostic errors even when using reasonable care. The key is determining whether the doctor acted competently, which involves an evaluation of what the doctor did and did not do in arriving at a diagnosis. This means looking at the "differential diagnosis" method the doctor used in making treatment determinations.
Navy Medical Malpractice Birth Injury $12,500,000 settlement $9,183,752 received by clients with lifetime benefits $3,125,000 attorneys' fees $191,248 litigation expenses Brown v. United States Naval Branch Health Clinic, Millington, TN Navy doctors failed to properly prescribe prenatal vitamins containing folic acid which resulted in our client suffering a devastating spinal
In addition, the fact that you like your doctor doesn’t actually mean that he’s any good at what he does. It would be a mistake to let your doctor get away with malpractice if he is exercising a poor quality of care. Remember: the fact that he’s a nice guy doesn’t mean he’s a competent physician. Don’t you want to receive compensation for your injury or the injury of a loved one and possibly keep him from injuring someone else?