Part of living a high-quality life means being and staying healthy. We head to our primary care physicians for check-ups. We go to doctors when we have medical issues that need treatment. Nerves are often associated with seeing doctors. Yet, most patients expect to receive proper treatment. Then, they can return to their everyday lives. When a doctor or physician acts negligently, they injure their patient. If you’ve sustained injuries, you can seek help. Our Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers can help victims recover.
Most medical procedures are routine. This means we expect our physicians to know what they’re doing and will act accordingly. If an emergency occurs, we’re to trust that the hospital team will take care of us. They’re supposed to have training and be well-versed in a variety of emergency situations. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why preventable medical errors occur. Something can go wrong in hospitals, doctor’s offices, or during an ambulance trip.
If you believe you’ve been a victim of a medical error, our personal injury attorneys are here for you. We have the experience and knowledge needed to help you build a strong legal case. With this, we will hold the negligent party responsible for their actions. To file a successful med mal claim, it’s best to have some background knowledge on the area of law. Let’s start with how Maryland defines malpractice.
Defining Medical Malpractice
While state laws vary, there’s a general consensus of when medical malpractice occurs. It’s when a physician or other health care professional neglects the standard of care. This injures the patient as a result. Then, the patient suffers monetary and emotional damages from the injury. Understanding medical malpractice has many benefits. The main one is how it can help when you’re building a case with your Baltimore attorney.
Standard of care is a legal term. It refers to the degree of skill and care the average doctor would provide to a patient. So, it’s what the average physician would do when presented with similar circumstances. If a doctor acts in a way that most would not have, then they didn’t follow the standard of care. Your lawyer can use this to prove that they negligently injured you. Additionally, they will show that another doctor would have treated you differently. You likely wouldn’t have sustained injuries under another doctor’s care.
Often times, negligence and malpractice are used interchangeably. However, these words have their own definitions that carry their own weight. Malpractice is technically a form of negligence. Negligence is blatant inattentiveness from the reasonable standard of care. Malpractice refers to a doctor’s breach of the standard of care. Anyone can be negligent. But only professionals can be guilty of malpractice.
Are Hospital Errors a Common Occurrence?
If you believe you are the victim of a medical mistake, you are not alone. Hospital errors occur frequently. This is according to a study completed by Johns Hopkins in 2016. Patient safety experts analyzed medical death rates over an eight-year period. According to their calculations, more than 250,000 deaths per year are the result of a medical error. That makes hospital errors the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the top three causes of death. They are heart disease, cancer, and accidents resulting in unintentional injuries. However, their third cause only resulted in 161,374 deaths. This is nearly 100,000 fewer than mistakes in the medical field. Johns Hopkins researchers make an important note about the CDC’s national health statistics. The CDC fails to classify medical errors separately on death certificates.
The study noted many reasons for the high number of medical deaths. Most errors are the result of poorly coordinated care and fragmented insurance networks. Errors also happen when safety nets and protocols aren’t in place. The lack of accountability for physicians is also an important factor.
What You Need to Know About Filing a Claim in Maryland
You’ll need to understand the state’s medical malpractice laws. This way, you’ll be able to file a claim against a physician or hospital in Maryland. Your attorney will be able to guide you through the process. We’ll make sure to meet all deadlines. You’ll have the preparation to present your claim against the medical professional. Then, you can proceed on to why you deserve compensation to aid in your recovery.
First, you’ll need to make sure you file your claim within the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a time limit. It’s the window an individual has to take legal action against another person or entity. These limits exist primarily because evidence will not last over time. Because of this, proving a case can be difficult and costly.
In Maryland, you have five years to file your claim. The start date is when the alleged malpractice incident occurred. You may also need to file within three years from the discovery of the injury. It’s important to note that minors are not subject to the statute of limitations until 11 years of age. It also doesn’t apply to those up to age 16 if the injury is to the reproductive system or involves a foreign object.
Besides meeting the time restriction, the state requires something else. Plaintiffs need to file a certificate of merit. This certificate must come from a qualified medical expert. There are 90 days to file the initial complaint and state the specific injury. They also need to include several items. You’ll need to show the alleged breach of care, what the doctor should have done, and how it resulted in injury. After the filing of the certificate, the parties have two options. They can decide if they want to go through arbitration or straight to court.
Maryland is one of a few states that recognizes contributory negligence. A plaintiff can’t recover damages if they were at fault for any part of their injuries. A judge or jury will decide this. Even if a doctor is 99 percent at fault, the one percent will prevent any recovery. If recovery is possible, there is a cap on the damages. Your Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer will determine what you are eligible for.
Types of Medical Malpractice Our Lawyers Can Assist With
Unfortunately for hospital patients, they can be wrongfully injured in many ways. Many mistakes are the result of miscommunication, understaffing, fatigue, and blatant negligence. Often, the standard of care shows how a medical professional didn’t provide safe care. As a result, their patient didn’t get the treatment they needed and deserved.
Our medical malpractice lawyers take on a variety of cases. We help as many victims as possible recover from what they’ve been through. Some of the most common types of medical malpractice we see include the following:
Birth Injuries. Expecting a child is exciting. However, the labor and delivery process can be stressful. With the right doctor and medical team, it’s likely the birth will go as planned. But when they are negligent, the mother or infant could sustain a birth injury.
Surgical Errors. Undergoing a surgical procedure is often a complicated process. Having a knowledgeable and prepared team is important. The procedure will go as planned and they’ll handle possible complications. Negligence from the surgeon or surgical team can result in life-changing surgical errors. A patient could need more surgeries or expect a significantly longer recovery period.
Emergency Room Error. ERs are frequently busy and it’s easy for an understaffed facility to become overwhelmed. It’s crucial, however, for staff members to ensure they see patients in the order of severity. What if a doctor sees a person with an ear infection before a patient who is suffering from severe chest pain? The patient with chest pain could suffer from a preventable injury or death. One could hold the hospital accountable for the emergency room error.
Misdiagnosis. This is when a doctor examines a patient but fails to diagnose them with the correct illness. It could allow the condition to worsen. The negligent physician could also incorrectly say a patient has no discernible illness. Or, they could diagnose a patient with a condition they do not have. For example, a patient could complain of chest pain and receive a heartburn diagnosis. But the patient later suffers from a heart attack. The doctor made a misdiagnosis and should have to answer for their actions.
Delayed Diagnosis. This occurs when a doctor makes an initially incorrect diagnosis. But the patient does eventually receive an accurate diagnosis. The delay allows the condition or disease to worsen. The patient did not receive the proper care in a timely fashion. In most cases, this occurs when a physician neglects to assess a patient in a way that other doctors would have.
Failure to Treat. There are situations when a physician arrives at the proper diagnosis. However, they fail to provide or recommend adequate treatment. This can happen if a doctor is treating too many patients. They could choose to release individuals too soon. The doctor may fail to offer follow-up care or doesn’t provide the proper specialist referral.
Medical Product Liability. There are individuals who rely on medical devices. For example, some need heart valves and hip replacements. In the event a faulty medical device does not work as promised, patients are likely to become injured. Manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure their devices are safe and effective. You can hold them accountable for poor product designed or improper testing.
Medication Errors. There are a number of individuals involved in the medication process. First, a doctor assesses a patient’s needs and check the other medication they’re taking. Next, they will prescribe a medication. A pharmacist will receive the script. Then, they must fill the prescription properly. Nurses typically administer the medication. If errors occur anywhere during that chain, a patient may experience adverse reactions. In other situations, their condition may not improve.
If a physician, nurse, or other hospital employee injured you, you may still be able to take legal action. We can examine the validity of your claim. Then we’ll conduct an investigation to determine what steps you should take.
The Consequences of Medical Negligence
When a person is recovering from a hospital mistake, the damage does not stop there. Victims of medical mistakes are likely to suffer physically, emotionally, and financially
Physician errors can cause birth defects, chronic pain, disfigurement, and disability. Victims are likely to experience extended recovery times. This could impact their ability to be gainfully employed. The patient may need additional procedures or surgeries. These procedures pose the risk of hospital-related infections or other complications.
Being unable to work and piling medical bills causes financial stress. It can take its toll on an entire family. While recovering, victims of negligence shouldn’t have to worry about financial matters. With the right lawyer from Baltimore, you’ll be on your way to receiving full and fair compensation. You’ll be able to pay for the expenses related to the incident.
Medical mistakes are also likely to take a toll on a person’s psyche. Your experience may cause feelings of anxiety, depression, and mistrust. You’ll be eligible for the economic expenses. You may also be eligible for monetary awards for pain and suffering and loss of consortium.
What to Do If You’re a Victim of Medical Malpractice
If you believe you are the victim of a doctor’s negligence, you may be wondering where to turn. First, it’s crucial to protect your personal health. Stop receiving care from the physician in question. Work with a new doctor to determine how best to proceed based on your physical state. You do not need to give your previous physician a reason as to why you are changing. It’s important to follow the new doctor’s treatment plan to improve your health and benefit your case.
Gathering evidence will help your legal team build a strong case. You’ll want to request copies of your medical records. Make sure you have records of everything. You’ll also want to document as much as you can remember of the experience you believe caused your injury. Keep track of the people involved, what happened, and what you believe went wrong. Keep an accurate log of your symptoms, as well.
Once you are ready, it’s best to contact a law firm. If you are in Baltimore or the surrounding areas, we can help you start your legal journey. We will explain your rights to you. We’ll help you hold the guilty doctor or hospital responsible for your injuries.
Finding a Lawyer Who Specializes in Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice cases are often complex. Consider the number of unique state laws discussed above. It’s crucial to find a legal team willing and capable to invest the time and effort your case will need to succeed.
Check that your lawyer has represented medical malpractice victims in the past. At Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC, we have taken on a number of med mal clients. While researching, you should also take a look at how past clients reviewed them. This will give you an idea of their success rate and how they handle this specialized area of law.
It’s also imperative to hire a medical malpractice attorney who knows that not all claims are alike. You’ll want your lawyer to evaluate your case based only on your case, so they can tailor a strategy that will work best.
Once you’ve hired your legal representation, keep an eye out for possible signs they might not be the best for you. Look to see if they are consistently late or are difficult to understand. They could seem bothered by your questions. Or they could lose important pieces of your case. These show you might not receive the outcome you deserve. The right legal team will always answer your questions. They’ll make sure you are a part of everything that goes on with your claim.
Our Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers understand how traumatic medical malpractice can be. You never expect to sustain injuries because of someone in the health care field. When a trusted professional breaches duty, you deserve compensation. If you’re thinking about pursuing legal action or want to go over the merit of your claim, contact our firm today. We’ll provide you with a free initial consultation and help you decide how to proceed.