When someone seeks out the care of a doctor, nurse, hospice provider, or other medical professional, they expect to be treated fairly, competently, and effectively. Unfortunately, medical negligence occurs with alarming frequency and impacts many aspects of people’s lives.
The consequences of medical negligence include devastating impacts on people’s physical, financial, emotional, and psychological well-being. Many victims of medical malpractice experience trauma from the event and are hesitant to trust doctors after what happened to them. Further, those brave souls who decide to come forward and speak out against their doctors face months, sometimes years, of legal battles before they receive the compensation they deserve. But it may be the only way for them to find closure and get the support they need to rebuild their lives.
The Snyder Law Group understands how challenging and frustrating it can be to fall victim to medical malpractice. Through no fault of your own, you can be forced to deal with a strange and terrifying new normal that involves life-saving medical treatments, corrective surgeries, and costly procedures to right the wrongs committed by a negligent doctor or hospital. Our team of Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers proudly advocates for those who suffer because a doctor, hospital, nurse, or other healthcare provider made a mistake.
What Is Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence is a type of personal injury claim that someone files against a healthcare provider, such as a doctor, hospital, nurse, psychiatrist, or pharmacist. Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare professional fails to follow the appropriate standard of care when treating a patient and causes an injury. The law of the state in which the negligence occurs determines the applicable standard of care and other elements the plaintiff (the malpractice victim) must prove to have a claim.
For example, in Maryland, the plaintiff must prove the following to have a valid claim against a healthcare provider:
- Duty of care. The plaintiff must show that the healthcare provider owed the plaintiff a duty to follow the standard practices and procedures followed by professionals in a similar situation. For example, if the doctor is a neurosurgeon, they should follow generally accepted principles of neurosurgery based on the area of practice and their years of experience when treating patients and performing surgeries.
- Breach of duty of care. The plaintiff should present evidence showing the healthcare provider failed to meet their ethical or professional obligations to the plaintiff. For example, they could show that the doctor should have done something but did not and that other doctors would have made a different choice.
- Causation. The plaintiff must prove a causal link between their injury and the failure of the healthcare provider to follow their duty. Another way to look at this is that the plaintiff must show that if the doctor had done what they were supposed to do, the plaintiff would be unharmed.
- Damages. Finally, the plaintiff must prove that they suffered damages (e.g., physical injuries or financial losses) because of the provider’s breach of duty.
The plaintiff must show all four elements to have a valid case. Further, Maryland law requires victims to take extra steps to bring a claim against a medical professional. For example, the plaintiff must have another healthcare provider review the person’s medical record and give their assessment of the situation. Finally, Maryland requires many plaintiffs to file a claim with a designated arbitration panel rather than the court.
Is Medical Negligence the Same as Medical Malpractice?
Medical negligence and medical malpractice are often used interchangeably, but are they the same thing? Medical malpractice refers to the broad area of personal injury law that enables patients to sue healthcare professionals if they make a mistake and injure their patients. Medical negligence often refers to the same category of conduct, i.e., when a doctor makes a mistake and harms a patient, as medical malpractice. In most cases, medical malpractice and medical negligence are equivalent, legally speaking.
What Are Common Types of Medical Malpractice?
Unfortunately, there are many types of mistakes that healthcare providers can make. Common types of medical malpractice include the following:
- Birth injuries,
- Forceps and vacuum delivery injuries,
- Surgical errors,
- Failure to diagnose,
- Nursing home negligence, and
- Stroke injuries.
These are just some of the many possible types of medical negligence patients and their families encounter. Medical malpractice can have enormous impacts on the lives of patients and their families. Tragically, many patients lose their lives because of mistakes made by doctors and their staff.
What Are the Common Consequences of Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice can affect a patient’s quality of life and negatively impact their financial and physical health. Further, some organizations blame medical malpractice for the increased cost of healthcare and health insurance overall. Victims of malpractice often experience psychological trauma because of the event. After all, they trusted their doctor or nurse to do what was best for them and follow the proper procedures. Once a healthcare provider breaks that trust, it can have wide-ranging consequences on the patient’s mental health and willingness to seek medical help in the future.
The physical injury you sustain from medical malpractice is the most obvious consequence of medical malpractice. However, many other damages can come as a result of the injury. Some of these include physical disability and loss of enjoyment in an area of your life. Your family could also be affected, as well. For example, you may not be able to run and play with your children because of the injury caused by medical negligence.
Additionally, victims of surgical injuries and errors may need successive procedures to address the underlying condition for which they had the original operation. Or they may need corrective surgery to fix the damage left behind by the previous surgeon. For example, if a surgical team leaves sponges or equipment inside the patient, the patient needs another surgery to remove the foreign objects. This places the patient in unnecessary physical pain and subjects them to additional recovery time and risks, all because the first surgical team did not do their job correctly.
Medical negligence can also impact a patient’s emotional and psychological state and well-being. The quality of doctor-patient relationships depends on the patient’s complete trust and reliance on the doctor. When medical negligence occurs, a doctor destroys the patient’s trust in the relationship, which can be emotionally traumatizing.
Not only can the patient feel betrayed, but it can negatively affect their view of the medical field as a whole. They may be reluctant to visit the doctor for future ailments because of this traumatic experience, putting them at a higher risk of developing other conditions. Plus, coping with the physical pain of a lifelong injury can cause emotional anguish to the patient and the loved ones in their life who see them suffering. Emotional damage cannot truly be measured, but it is still a valid and often substantial component of any medical malpractice case.
The financial consequences of medical negligence can be quite significant and are often one of the motivating factors for patients to file a lawsuit. Medical malpractice can lead to a series of expenses that they weren’t expecting to pay. Bills for additional corrective treatments can add up, especially if the patient’s insurance company does not cover the costs. To further compound the negative impacts of medical malpractice, many victims may not be able to work after the incident or may earn less money.
Medical expenses and loss of income are two of the biggest motivators for plaintiffs to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The fact of the matter is that it is unfair for you to have to take on a financial burden when it wasn’t your fault for your injuries. By filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, you can pursue the justice and compensation you deserve and begin to heal from the incident.
What Compensation Can I Receive in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Victims of medical malpractice may be eligible to receive a range of compensation if they bring a successful claim against a negligent doctor, hospital, or other healthcare providers. The following are the three main types of compensation that victims can receive:
- Economic damages,
- Noneconomic damages, and
- Punitive damages.
Economic awards compensate the victim for the financial burden of the negligence. For example, it covers the cost of past and future medical care, lost wages, and prescription costs. If the victim must have injury-related modifications done to their home, the damages award may include these expenses.
Noneconomic damages compensate the victim for the invisible price they paid for what happened to them. After all, the financial injuries are only half the story. Noneconomic damages include compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering, permanent disfigurement, and loss of quality of life.
Finally, punitive damages may be appropriate if the doctor, hospital, or healthcare professional acted intentionally, recklessly, or egregiously. Courts typically only award this type of damages in rare circumstances where it is necessary to punish the at-fault party and deter others from committing a similar act. Each state has unique rules about when courts can award punitive damages.
Contact The Snyder Law Group Today
The Snyder Law Group, LLC, proudly represents clients throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. Our experienced Baltimore attorneys understand the frustration of working with an insurance company, medical professional, or another party that refuses to accept liability for negligent or reckless behavior. You can take heart in knowing our talented and experienced lawyers are ready to work for you. We are experienced in handling personal injury claims of medical malpractice or injury resulting from serious car and truck accidents and have secured hundreds of millions in verdicts settlements*. Please visit our website, www.410thefirm.com, for more information and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.