Although most people would be stunned to learn the true level of medical malpractice (or “medical negligence”) that occurs in this country, as an experienced medical malpractice attorney serving the greater Boston area, the truth is, nearly 100,000 patients die each year from medical errors. And consider: That figure reflects only the actually reported cases – many times that amount are never even reported at all, due to patients and their families either not possessing enough information to proceed ahead with a legal action, or by just being intimidated by the overall, complex healthcare industry in the United States. Research has indicated that the number of medical negligence cases officially reported, represents only about 15 to 20 per cent of the amount actually occurring. Despite what many people were brought up to believe, doctors are not flawless. They make mistakes, and when they do, terrible injuries, even death, can result. This happens a great deal more than most people know, and can be scary when you think about it. When this happens, the medical negligence alone can be devastating enough. The lives of the victims of medical negligence, and their families, can be forever altered or destroyed. However, the law in Massachusetts provides legal rights to victims of such injuries, and it is important that people know the facts surrounding this problem, and their options if this happens to them.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
This is a complex question, but very briefly (and very generally,) medical malpractice consists of errors (and such errors can be of several different types) committed by a medical professional (usually a doctor, nurse, a hospital, etc..) which cause resulting harm to a patient. The harm suffered could be (and usually is) physical, or it could be emotional. The error(s) that the doctor, other medical professional, or hospital is alleged to have made, must be shown to be the type that a similarly-situated doctor or medical professional would not have made, under the same or similar circumstances. Broadly speaking, this is the ‘Standard of Care’ that the defendant in such a case is held to, when a jury (or judge) decides if the defendant is liable for damages. This “standard of care” that a doctor or other medical professional is measured against in a medical malpractice law suit, can be several of several types, but such standards are generally widely-known in the medical profession. They may appear in a peer-reviewed medical journal (such as the New England Journal of Medicine;) they may be endorsed by a professional medical organization (such as the American Medical Association;) but in general such standards are widely known among medical professionals in their particular fields of practice. Unfortunately for some patients, occasionally doctors and other medical professionals sometimes deliver care that does not meet these standards: Negligence occurs and harm results to the patient. Examples of this include failure to diagnosis a disease (such as cancer or heart disease,) which leads to death or loss of the opportunity to cure the disease when it was at an early stage that was treatable, or failure to diagnose a condition due to routine tests or procedures not being ordered. Failure to notice fetal distress during delivery, casing injuries or perforations to adjacent organs during surgery, even leaving surgical instruments in a patient, are all not unheard of.
Medical Malpractice can occur in many areas. Some of these areas include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Failure To Diagnose Cancer
- Failure to Diagnose Heart Attack or Heart Disease
- Surgical Malpractice
- Anesthesiologist Malpractice
- Obstetrician Malpractice
- Hospital Malpractice
- Failure To Diagnose Suicidal Risk
- Psychiatric Malpractice
- Prescription Medication Errors
- Nursing Home Negligence
To fully explain exactly what constitutes medical malpractice is complex and would take far more space than this website allows. The factors determining whether or not medical malpractice has occurred in a given situation are very fact-specific and situational. A qualified medical malpractice attorney can analyze your situation and answer these questions for you. If you suspect that you or someone you know may have been the victim of medical malpractice, contact us for a free consultation. We are very experienced in this area of personal injury law, and can give you the critical advice you need.