What a Senior Needs to Know About Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a term used to describe any act or omission by a medical professional that results in harm to a patient. This might include mistakes during surgery, prescribing the wrong medication, or failing to diagnose a serious illness.

Every year, thousands of patients, including seniors, are injured due to medical malpractice. In some cases, these injuries are minor and can be treated easily. However, in many cases, the injuries are life-changing or even fatal. In this article, we provide information a senior needs to know when it comes to medical malpractice.

Types of Medical Malpractice

There are many types of medical malpractice, but some of the most common include:

  • Failure to diagnose a condition
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Prescribing the wrong medication
  • Performing the wrong procedure
  • Incorrectly interpreting test results

What Are the Elements of a Medical Malpractice Case?

There are four basic elements to a medical malpractice claim. These are:

  • Duty of care
  • Breach of duty of care
  • Breach resulted in injury or death
  • Person sustained actual injuries or did die

Duty of Care

A duty of care is a legal obligation to take reasonable care to avoid foreseeable harm to another person. The duty of care arises from the relationship between the parties involved, such as between a doctor and their patient or a driver and their passengers. It is not limited to these relationships, however, and can also be owed to people who are not in any direct relationship with the person owing the duty of care.

The scope of the duty of care will vary depending on the circumstances, but it will generally require the person to take reasonable steps to protect against foreseeable harm. This could include warning someone of a potential hazard, providing adequate safety equipment, or taking other reasonable precautions. In regard to a medical malpractice claim, a duty of care arises when a healthcare provider enters into a professional relationship with a patient.

Breach of Duty of Care

The second element of a medical malpractice claim is a breach of a duty of care owed to a patient. For example, if a physician had the duty to make a diagnosis of a medical condition in a reasonable period and failed to do so, that failure could be construed as being a breach of that healthcare provider’s duty of care.

Breach Resulted in Injuries

The breach of the duty of care has to be the foreseeable cause of injuries sustained by a patient. For example, if a doctor failed to diagnose that a patient had cancer in a timely manner, that patient’s cancer progressed until a proper diagnosis was made. The progression of the improperly diagnosed cancer would be injuries arising from a doctor’s breach of duty of care owed to a patient.

Patient Sustains Actual Injuries

Finally, in order to make a medical malpractice claim, there needs to be a demonstration with a patient who was, in fact, injured. “Injuries” cannot be speculative or hypothetical. They must be actual, existing, and real.

What Is a Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death?

A medical malpractice wrongful death is a death that is caused by the negligent action or inaction of a healthcare provider.

What Is the Statute of Limitations in a Medical Malpractice Case?

The medical malpractice statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit on how long someone has to take legal action after an event has occurred. This limit varies depending on the type of legal case but typically ranges from one to five years. Each state has its own law regarding a statute of limitations for medical malpractice.

The importance of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit within the statute of limitations time period cannot be understated. Suppose a victim of medical malpractice fails to file a lawsuit by the deadline outlined in the statute of limitations. In that case, that individual is likely to be forever precluded from seeking justice as a result of being the victim of medical malpractice.

There are several reasons why statutes of limitations exist. For one, they help ensure that evidence is still available and witnesses are available to testify. Additionally, they prevent people from being unfairly persecuted or sued after many years have passed since an event occurred.

However, there are some drawbacks to statutes of limitations as well. For example, they can prevent people from seeking justice if they didn’t know about a case until many years after the event occurred. Additionally, they can create an incentive for people to cover up wrongdoings or negligence because they know they will have a limited amount of time to be held accountable.

Compensation in a Medical Malpractice Case

When a patient is injured due to medical malpractice, they may be entitled to compensation. This compensation can come in the form of compensatory damages, intended to make the injured party whole again, and punitive damages, which are intended to punish the doctor or hospital for their negligence.

Compensatory damages may include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Punitive damages are generally not as common but may be available if the doctor’s conduct is particularly egregious. To recover damages in a medical malpractice case, the injured party must typically show that the doctor or hospital was negligent in their care.

Legal Representation for a Senior in a Medical Malpractice Case

If you’re considering suing a doctor for medical malpractice, you may wonder if you need a lawyer. You will almost certainly need legal representation in order to optimize your chances of winning your case.

Medical malpractice cases are notoriously complex. Arguably, the law is stacked in favor of doctors and other healthcare providers. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced attorney on your side. Your lawyer will help gather the evidence needed to prove that the doctor was negligent and negotiate with the defense team to get you the best possible settlement.

If you’re considering filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, contact an attorney. It’s important to act quickly, as there are statutes of limitation that limit how long you have to file a claim.