When you put your faith in medical professionals, they owe you an obligation to provide the utmost quality healthcare to help resolve your disease or disorder. When your doctor, nurse, lab tech, or other healthcare professional creates medical errors, this can be considered medical malpractice if the results were a severe personal injury and resultant damages. According to medical malpractice law, if you are not at fault and the medical errors were caused by the healthcare providers, they can be held liable for compensation. You can seek the help of Pittsburgh medical malpractice attorneys to deliver reliable advice when you are recovering compensation for serious injuries. They can provide you the representation you need to prove that a negligent doctor or healthcare system has failed you. For more information, contact our Pittsburgh medical malpractice law firm to ask us how we can help. Call Ogg, Murphy & Perkosky for a free consultation.
Who can be sued for medical malpractice?
Any healthcare provider that has met the following criteria can be sued for medical malpractice, regardless of what they practice:
- There existed an established provider-patient relationship which can be proved using medical records.
- There was a breach of trust when the healthcare professional deviated from the standard level of care owed to the patient during the medical procedure.
- There is a direct causal relationship between the healthcare professional’s conduct and the patient’s injury.
- There was an injury to the patient that resulted in damages.
We have a reputation as Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Lawyers that care and get results. We know what is at stake for our clients, and we are relentless in our pursuit of justice according to personal injury law in Pittsburgh, PA.
Types of Medical Negligence
No two medical malpractice cases are the same. However, with the help of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, your case can be investigated to help identify the type of medical negligence you may have experienced. The following are some common types of medical malpractice or medical negligence:
Delayed Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis
Some rare illnesses and cancers can be hard to pinpoint, but if your healthcare provider failed to diagnose the condition, failed to treat the condition, or if the condition was misdiagnosed, that provider may have been negligent. For example, cancer misdiagnosis is a serious problem in today’s industry and leaves many cancer victims vulnerable to late-stage cancer that can’t be cured because of delayed diagnosis. The question for us as medical malpractice attorneys becomes whether another doctor would have been able, in a reasonable amount of time, to properly identify and respond to the condition. In situations involving misdiagnosis, or a delay in diagnosis, the underlying illness or disease is allowed to continue to progress, ultimately causing harm to the patient. In both cases, patients are left feeling frustrated, ignored by their doctors, and afraid.
Negligence By Surgeons
Surgeons have many responsibilities in order to prevent frequent surgical errors. To begin with, they must receive consent from patients before operating on them, or the consent of their parents if they are minors. Because no doctor can guarantee an outcome for a patient, patients usually sign a waiver acknowledging the risk. However, a competent surgeon doesn’t leave surgical materials or tools in patients, does follow up with proper care, uses sterile materials, and operates on the correct body part. There are emergency situations when a doctor has to make decisions for a patient without their consent with the goal of saving their life, even if it means amputating a body part. Those aren’t the same as failures of doctors to provide the standard level of care for their patients.
The Wrong Medication or Dosage
In busy hospital settings, sometimes nurses and other healthcare practitioners make medication errors in providing the correct treatment regime. In some situations, it is the correct medication but the incorrect dosage. Even though these are small mistakes, this is still medical malpractice because these minor errors can cause great harm to patients. When the wrong medication is prescribed, it can cause unexpected complications. The drug may interact with a previous medication the patient is already on. There is also the possibility that the patient has heart problems, hypertension, liver failure, or other pre-existing conditions that the wrong medication can aggravate. The risk of taking the wrong medication can be life-threatening.
Incorrect Anesthesia Procedures
Anesthesia is important for more invasive medical procedures and helps sedate patients while they are undergoing medical treatment. Sometimes the wrong amount of anesthesia is provided, resulting in the risk of death or extreme pain. For example, if the wrong dosage of anesthesia is given to a patient, they may experience the pain of surgery because they are still awake. This form of medical malpractice may be difficult to prove, and even if the dosage amount was documented, it is mostly your word against the medical establishment. You can work with medical malpractice attorneys to fight for your right to a settlement.
A pharmaceutical company can be held liable if they fail to warn doctors of the harmful side effects of a drug and if they also fail to notify consumers. The manufacturer of medical devices can also be held liable for making defective products that either caused harm or did not perform with the efficacy they claimed to have. Sometimes a medical professional can be held liable for prescribing the wrong medical device.
Mothers and their children are at risk of experiencing injuries caused by medical professionals who neglect to perform a delivery properly. This can result in brain injuries in newborn babies, such as cerebral palsy, and other serious birth complications like fractures, bruising, facial paralysis, hematomas, and more. Mothers can also suffer from birth injuries such as torn tissue, collapsed pelvis floors, excessive bleeding, and other disorders due to poor or inadequate labor and delivery procedures.
What Types Of Damages Can I Claim?
Medical malpractice lawyers in Pittsburgh can help you obtain fair compensation by accurately calculating your economic and non-economic damages. Under medical malpractice laws, your economic damages can include your medical bills, lost wages, and any other costs you had to pay because of your personal injury. For example, if a family member passed away due to a wrongful death caused by a medical mistake, your economic damages can include funeral and burial fees in addition to other expenses.
Non-economic damages are mainly based on the psychological, physical, or emotional pain experienced by the medical malpractice victim, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other emotional turmoil. Your total economic and non-economic damages are added up to determine your settlement amount. You could be awarded punitive damages if the actions of the healthcare professional or facility was particularly careless.
What is a damages cap? Is there one for Pennsylvania?
In some states, there is a limit to how much a person can receive in compensation from a medical malpractice case. In the state of Pennsylvania, there is no cap on how much a person can receive in economic and non-economic damages. However, there are limits to punitive damages, which are damages that are awarded as a punishment for especially negligent behavior. In the state of Pennsylvania, punitive damages are capped at twice the amount of damages the patient suffered.
What is the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim in Pennsylvania?
There are time limits for filing a medical malpractice claim in every state. In Pennsylvania, this time frame, known as the statute of limitations, is two years. The required elements for a medical malpractice lawsuit are:
- The patient was injured
- The injury was caused by a medical professional’s conduct
- There is a causal relationship between the healthcare provider’s conduct and the injury
Minors have two years after their 18th birthday to file a claim for an injury they suffered when they were younger.
Pennsylvania also subjects its medical malpractice lawsuits to a seven-year statute of repose. When a person has been injured, they may not know right away that their healthcare provider is responsible for that injury. The statute of repose allows a person to report a medical professional’s conduct within seven years of the date the injury occurred. A medical malpractice lawyer in Pittsburgh can give you more information if you’re unsure whether or not you can still file your claim.
What is the “periodic payments rule”?
You may still need medical treatment in the future related to your injuries because it could take years for you to heal. Of course, it’s best to go ahead and file the claim so you don’t run out of time to file before the statute of limitations runs out. The periodic payments rule in Pennsylvania requires damages to be paid out in installments every year for medical expenses related to the injury that do not total more than $100,000.
What happens in court?
A plaintiff has to prove in court that a negative and injurious outcome would not have resulted had it not been for the healthcare worker’s negligence. Medical malpractice cases often require expert witnesses to testify and provide their professional assessment or opinion. An expert witness is someone who is in authority in a specific field. In medical malpractice, they can be other doctors, pharmacists, dentists, surgeons, or even professors and researchers. The defendant is going to do everything they can to prove that they were not negligent. This is why you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney representing you in a Pittsburgh medical malpractice suit. Our aggressive Pittsburgh personal injury lawyers at Ogg, Murphy & Perkosky have experience in proving fault in medical malpractice cases. Call us today.