It was recently reported by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for at least 250,000 deaths per year. About 100,000 of these deaths occur in a hospital setting.
These deaths are caused by medical malpractice, and as a result, every state has established wrongful death statutes to assist families in recovering damages, which can include the decedent’s medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses for medications, funeral expenses, and other costs attributed to the untimely death. They also provide certain family members the opportunity to obtain compensation for their emotional losses, the decedent’s lost future income, and the decedent’s pain and suffering prior to death.
What constitutes medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is understood as the departure from an established standard of medical care that causes a patient to unnecessarily suffer or die. The “standard of medical care” is generally defined as the type and level of care that a reasonably skilled and competent health care professional, with similar training and in the same medical community, would have provided under the same circumstances.
In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the testimony of a qualified expert in a medical field related to the specific instance of malpractice usually helps to determine what the standard of medical care should be.
It’s important to understand that in malpractice/wrongful death cases, the standard of medical care is a flexible term. What constitutes medical malpractice in one state may not necessarily prove to be in another.
Typical medical malpractice/wrongful deaths include:
Mistakes during surgery—mistakes during surgery can lead to very severe issues for a patient, including paralysis, damaged nerves, punctured lungs, surgical instruments left inside the body, and even death. Because surgery requires a physician to be adequately trained, instances where the physician is unprepared or fails to follow surgical protocol can mean the loss of life.
Errors in administering anesthesia—these fatal mistakes are the result of a lack of communication between anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetist, surgeons, and even the patient themselves. If there is a failure to properly take into account the patient’s height, age, weight, and a lack of awareness of the medications the patient is currently taking, this can mean too little or too much anesthesia, which both can have fatal effects.
Misdiagnosis—misdiagnosis can occur when a physician does not properly identify the underlying medical condition of a patient. Improperly used diagnostic tests can mean unnecessary treatment and losing critical time to help cure the patient. It is estimated that misdiagnosis accounts for thousands of wrongful deaths each year.
Infections from unsanitary hospital conditions—known as “silent killers,” infections can be caused by hospital staff who unknowingly contaminate a patient’s catheter, IV, or other device that will be in touch with a patient’s bloodstream.
Naturally, the death of a loved one because of medical malpractice can be an exceedingly impactful event for families as the assumption is that healthcare will help to cure the patient rather than harm them. The Garcia Law Group can help you to file a wrongful death claim to hold the health care provider accountable for their actions.
During the lengthy process of a wrongful death suit, it is vital that you recognize certain do’s and don’ts to help you obtain a successful ruling for you and your loved ones.
Do stop using social media accounts—during a wrongful death lawsuit, posting inappropriate statements on your social media profiles can be used to discredit the claim. Even if your accounts are set on privacy, the courts have consistently ruled that posting information online means you are engaged in a public forum and thus there is grounds for privacy. Once you have filed a wrongful death claim, you and your family members should cease using social media profiles, until your legal team has obtained a settlement.
Do always tell the truth—because you may be required to provide testimony in dispositions and appear on the witness stand under oath, it is absolutely essential that you remain open and honest at all times with your legal team so they can build an effective case. Being dishonest will affect the way the jury perceives your case and can also lead to perjury.
Do expect open communication—your legal team should always provide you with updates on the status of your case and should be open to any question you have during the litigation process. Expect straight answers at all times.
Do question your attorney’s strategies—at the Garcia Law Group, we always have a comprehensive plan to ensure that we can fully recover compensation for your loss, and you should always make sure your legal team does too. Make sure that your attorneys have a detailed plan and pay attention to phrases that include words such as evidence gathering, deposing those involved, and notice if they are taking an active approach to reach a settlement.
Do not assume that a settlement will occur quickly—because of the complexities of the laws in regards to medical malpractice and wrongful death claims, the process of a settlement usually takes years. It can also be a lengthy process for your legal team to gather the proper evidence and line up valuable experts to help build an effective claim. Insurance companies will also attempt to draw out the length of the litigation, so just remember to be patient.
Do not allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the case—the sudden death of a loved one can cause a huge amount of physical and mental stress, so it’s important that you maintain your own health and emotional wellbeing throughout the process. Focus on recovering from the loss and maintaining your health and allow your attorneys to handle the case.
Do not assume that a medical mistake correlates to medical malpractice—it’s important that you speak with an attorney to ensure that you have a valid claim on your hands. As there are inherent risks with any medical treatment, you should avoid assuming that the medical professional involved in the loss of your loved one overstepped their legal obligations.
Do not overstep your role in the process—attempting to get in contact with the medical professionals involved in the case or with the insurance company handling your claim should absolutely be avoided. Allow your attorneys to handle these responsibilities.
We know that the loss of a loved one means going through a tumultuous time of trying to make sense of everything, including having to deal with legal and financial matters. That’s why the Garcia Law Group, PLLC wants to make sure that you obtain the justice you deserve.
By contacting the Garcia Law Group, PLLC , you’ll be able to better understand the circumstances of your situation and receive valuable professional advice about your case.
If you’re searching for a firm that’s not intimidated by any case, look no further than the Garcia Law Group, PLLC.
Reach us at 956-661-8000.