Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or health care professional injures a patient with negligent or inappropriate medical care. The consequences of medical malpractice can be very serious. If an accountant or other professional provides negligent services it typically just costs you money. Negligent medical care by doctors, however, can result in permanent physical injuries and sometimes death. In many cases, the harm caused by medical malpractice can never be undone. Instead, our legal system offers victims of medical malpractice financial compensation.
Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim in Maryland
Doctors and hospitals are not in the habit of admitting that they committed malpractice. If you want financial compensation for injuries caused by medical malpractice you will need to show that you are legally entitled to it. To have a valid claim for medical malpractice you need to be able to prove 2 things:
- the doctor’s care deviated from accepted medical standards or practices, and
- this deviation from standard medical practices actually caused your injury.
Establishing each of these elements is a complex and expensive process. For starters, you will need another doctor on your side to act as an expert witness. In fact, Maryland law requires all medical malpractice suits to be supported by a qualified expert opinion confirming that the case has merit. Getting an opinion from another doctor that your case is valid is just the first step and does not guarantee success. The defendants will present their own expert who will say that the doctors did nothing wrong and your claims have no merit.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice Claims
Medical malpractice can occur in any situation and take a variety of forms. There are certain types of medical malpractice that are frequently litigated. Below is a summary of some of the more common categories of medical malpractice.
Failure to Diagnose / Misdiagnoses
The most common malpractice case our lawyers see in Maryland is the failure to diagnose. Correctly diagnosing your medical condition is one of the most important things a doctor does. When a doctor fails to diagnose a condition it results in incorrect or delayed treatment which can cause significant harm. This is why failed or delay diagnosis is the most common type of medical malpractice claim. Failure or delayed diagnosis of cancer, particularly breast and colon cancer, leads to a particularly large number of malpractice claims.
The key issue in misdiagnosis malpractice claims is whether the doctor’s diagnostic procedures were adequate based on accepted medical standards. It is not enough to say that the doctor “could” have eventually diagnosed the condition by doing further testing – that can be said in every case. The question is whether another doctor under the same circumstances (following accepted medical protocol) would have done the additional testing and diagnosed the condition. In some misdiagnosis cases, the correct diagnostic testing was done but the doctor did not accurately.
Birth Injuries / Labor & Delivery Malpractice
Our malpractice lawyers focus on birth injury cases. Birth-related injuries give rise to a large number of medical malpractice cases. This is because a large percentage of all birth injuries are the direct result of medical malpractice by the doctor and/or delivery team. This is because there are a number of complications that often occur before or during childbirth that must be resolved in a very short window of time. Common examples of these childbirth complications include:
These complications are well known and OB/GYNs are trained to respond to them. A skilled, experienced doctor and delivery team should be able to handle these complications and deliver the baby without injury. Poor communication and rushed decision making often result in injury. Birth injuries can involve injury to the brain and/or nerves due to lack of oxygen. They can also involve broken bones and similar physical injury. Some birth-injuries that are generally the result of malpractice include: cerebral palsy, erbs palsy, brachial plexus injuries
Hospitals are legally obligated to ensure a certain level of care for all patients. This means hospitals can be liable if they fail to deliver the proper level of care resulting in injury to a patient. Moreover, hospitals are liable for the actions of their employees such as nurses, technicians and sometimes doctors. Anytime a malpractice injury occurs at a hospital, there is a very good chance that the hospital will have some liability.
From a plaintiff’s perspective, hospitals are more favorable defendants than doctors. There are several reasons why it’s sometimes easier to go after a hospital for malpractice. First, juries tend to hold individual doctors in high esteem and give them the benefit of the doubt. The same is not true for hospitals. Juries are much more willing to lay blame on hospitals as opposed to individual doctors. Another reason hospitals make better malpractice defendants is that they are more likely to settle cases. Hospitals are businesses and they will settle cases to protect their image and keep allegations of malpractice out of the news. For more information about hospital malpractice the following link:
When performing surgical procedures, surgeons are held to the same standard of care required of all doctors. A surgeon must perform each surgery with the skill and care reasonably employed by other surgeons under similar circumstances. Surgical errors happen more often than people think. One recent report estimated that 10% of post-surgical deaths are the result of a preventable medical error. Some common types of surgical malpractice are as follows.
- Gallbladder removal surgery
- Wrong site surgery
- Anesthesia errors
- Surgical infections
- Gastric bypass surgery
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
- Laparoscopic intestinal surgery
- Thoracic surgery
Medication errors involve administering or prescribing incorrect medication and related forms of medication-related negligence. Malpractice claims based on medication errors can be brought against doctors, pharmacies, and other healthcare professionals involving in the prescribing and administration of drugs. Below is a list of the types of medication errors that frequently result in malpractice claims:
- Wrong Drug Combination: in these claims, a patient is injured when they take 2 prescription medications that dangerously interact with each other. Both the prescribing doctors and the pharmacies involved can be liable for malpractice in this situation.
- Incorrect Medication: in these cases, the doctors, nurses or pharmacies are supposed to give a specific drug to a patient but make a mistake and end up administering a totally different drug. When this sort of mistake results in injury to the patient a clear claim for malpractice exists.
- Side-Effect Injuries: when doctors prescribe medication they are supposed to be aware of the potential side-effects of a drug. Prescribing doctors also have a duty to ensure that the risks of the medication do not outweigh its benefits. When a patient is injured by medication side-effects they may have a malpractice claim against the doctor.
MILLER & ZOIS – Malpractice Attorneys
Miller & Zois is one of the leading medical malpractice firms in Maryland. Our lawyers have handled thousands of medical malpractice cases and earned millions in compensation for our clients.
Our law firm is in Maryland. If you live in the Mid-Atlantic area and believe you have been injured as a result of medical malpractice call Miller & Zois at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation. Our attorneys will review your case and consult with appropriate experts.