When a healthcare professional acts negligently, they can injure their patient. The patient now has to deal with their original ailment and the injuries their healthcare provider has caused them. This can cause significant stress and hardship in a person’s life, but those who were wrongfully injured do have options. If you’ve sustained injuries and believe negligence was the cause, you may be able to file a medical negligence case. A Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer from Belsky & Horowitz, LLC can help.
Most medical procedures are routine. This means we expect our medical providers 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 that results in serious injuries that could take a long time to heal or the injuries could be permanent.
Learning to live while you’re recovering from an injury or adjusting to life with a permanent one is both extremely difficult and shouldn’t have happened in the first place. While you may feel like you’re dealing with this on your own, know that there are people who can provide help.
If you believe you’ve been a victim of a medical error, our Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys are here for you. The lawyers at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC are passionate about standing up for those who have suffered because of the negligence of others.
Having representation acting in your best interests can provide you with peace of mind. You’ll know you have an experienced and skilled Baltimore medical malpractice attorney diligently working for you to get justice. We’ll be at your side every step of the way.
To file a successful medical malpractice claim, it’s best to have some background knowledge on the area of law. Let’s start with how Maryland defines medical 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 medical malpractice case with your malpractice lawyer.
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 healthcare professional acts in a way that most would not have, then they didn’t follow the standard of care. Your medical malpractice attorney can use this to prove that they negligently injured you. Additionally, they will show that another healthcare provider 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) list 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.
How Do Medical Errors Happen?
When our experienced medical malpractice attorneys begin investigating your medical malpractice case, we’ll look for how your injuries happened. We’re familiar with the multiple ways that medical malpractice can occur. It’s possible one of the following reasons is what led to your injuries and losses:
- Inexperience. Medical professionals need to have the necessary training and experience in their practice area in order to provide their patients with the best care possible. When you see a doctor or other medical professional, you expect them to have that experience and trust they’ll be able to help you. However, this may not always be true.
- Fatigue/Exhaustion. If a hospital doesn’t have enough staff on hand, it can mean the current staff are pulling long hours and double shifts. When medical care providers are overworked and don’t get enough sleep, they can make mistakes that result in terrible injuries.
- Drug/Alcohol Abuse. When a person is impaired, they could endanger a patient’s life when trying to provide care.
- Poor Communication. A patient’s care can be in the hands of more than one medical care professional. Passing information between multiple people leaves room for error—important details about the patient could be lost or someone may not get updated.
- Administrative Errors. Records give healthcare professionals the information they need to be on the same page. If a patient’s chart isn’t updated or an error occurs and information is lost, then there’s a chance a medical error could occur.
- Unsafe Environment. Hospitals are supposed to have measures and protocols in place to keep their environments sanitized and protect those who are at risk of illnesses like the flu and common cold. A hospital that doesn’t take these measures or makes it unsafe for injured patients may place patients at risk.
If you recognize one of the reasons above, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Our Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers from Belsky & Horowitz, LLC are ready to help you find the best course of action so you can move forward.
How to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Baltimore, MD
While Maryland medical malpractice cases are incredibly complex, your medical malpractice attorney will build your case to show the following points:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed.
- The medical professional acted negligently and failed to meet the standard of care.
- Their negligence caused your injury.
- You suffered losses and damages as a result of the injury.
You need to prove a doctor-patient relationship exists, which can be you visiting the doctor, explaining your ailments, and they agree to treat you and proceed to do so. It’s vital to establish this relationship as there are situations where someone may have sustained an injury, but it wasn’t due to medical negligence. For example, overhearing a doctor’s conversation or looking for advice online doesn’t constitute a doctor-patient relationship.
It’s also important to know that being dissatisfied with your doctor’s care doesn’t necessarily mean malpractice occurred. By having the appointment on file, you can show this relationship was established.
Then, you’ll need to show that they acted negligently, thus failing to meet the standard of care. The standard of care would be how healthcare providers with similar training and experience would have treated you.
Typically, this can be shown with an expert witness. Their testimony will be an essential part of your medical malpractice case. The Baltimore, MD medical malpractice lawyers at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC will consult with medical experts to look at what happened to you and help determine that you were a victim of medical malpractice. There are important qualifications a medical expert has to meet:
- The expert witness needs to have clinical experience, have provided consultation relating to the same practice, or taught medicine in the same specialty or related area as the defendant within five years of the incident.
- The expert needs to be board certified in the same specialty if the defendant is board certified. However, this isn’t necessary if the defendant was treating the plaintiff outside of this specialty.
As we gather evidence about how you were treated and how the treatment resulted in injury, the medical expert can provide their expert testimony on how they would have acted had they been in charge of your care. When the expert witness does this, they can provide essential information on how your healthcare providers did not meet the standard of care. By failing to meet this, they failed to act in a competent manner. Others in their position with a similar background and training wouldn’t have acted the same.
While these are the basic components of most medical malpractice claims, there are many other factors that can make it more complex. Our Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers are familiar with these factors and are ready to explain the process to you. Let’s go over these components and what you’ll need to do to give your claim the best chance of success.
Maryland law states you have five years to file your medical malpractice 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. You also need to include several items. You’ll show the evidence of 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 healthcare professional 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. We’ll carefully assess what happened to you and the losses you’ve incurred. To schedule an initial free consultation, get in touch with our office today.
Types of Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Some of the most common types of medical malpractice we see include the following:
With the right doctor and medical team, most instances of childbirth go as planned. But when someone is negligent, the mother or infant could sustain a birth injury. A birth injury like cerebral palsy can often have lifelong consequences. Birth injuries are one of the most preventable types of medical malpractice.
Undergoing a surgical procedure is often a complicated process. Negligence from a surgeon or surgical team can result in a life-changing surgical error. This could result from mistakes during surgery or instances when a surgeon performs the wrong surgery, operates on the wrong limb, or leaves tools inside the patient. Surgical errors often cause serious injury and may require an additional medical procedure. Surgical error is one of the most common types of medical malpractice cases.
Often, patients receive a form of anesthesia before a surgical procedure. Anesthesiologists need to make sure they’re giving the right drug in the correct dosage to the right patient. If they make a mistake, the patient’s life could be put in danger.
Lack of Informed Consent
Before undergoing a surgical procedure, you should be given information about the surgery. During this meeting, your healthcare provider will go over what the procedure does, how it can help you, and also inform you about the risks. You will have all the facts so you can make an informed decision on whether or not to have the surgery.
If you decide to move forward, you’ll likely need to sign a consent form. If you weren’t given the information, you aren’t able to give informed consent. The consent form will be a physical confirmation that you and your doctor went over the risks, and will go in your medical records. One of the risks from the surgery may have affected you or you may have decided to not have the surgery if you had knowledge of the risks. If this has happened to you, seek our Baltimore malpractice attorneys today.
Emergency Room Errors
ERs are frequently busy and it’s easy for an understaffed facility to become overwhelmed. It’s crucial, however, for medical professionals to ensure they see patients in the order of severity. If a patient’s condition was allowed to worsen due to having to wait too long in the emergency room or an ER doctor or nurse made a mistake in the ER, it may be possible to hold the hospital accountable for an emergency room error.
A misdiagnosis is when a doctor examines a patient but fails to diagnose them with the correct illness. It could have devastating consequences and allow the medical conditions to worsen. The negligent physician could also incorrectly say a patient has no discernible illness. They could go home without a plan to treat the 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.
This can also happen with serious illnesses like cancer. Catching this illness early and beginning medical treatment as soon as possible often gives patients a better chance of becoming cancer-free or slowing the cancer’s spread and prolonging their life in a significant way. Unfortunately, healthcare professionals can sometimes miss the signs of cancer and the illness can go undiagnosed.
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 misses critical time when they could have been receiving medical treatment.
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
Manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure medical devices are safe and effective. You can hold them accountable for poor product design or improper testing. While going up against a manufacturing company can seem daunting, our Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys are up to the task. We will not be intimidated by a manufacturing company that made the defective product that harmed you. We’ll fight for you to get the justice you deserve.
Nursing Home Abuse and Nursing Home Negligence
Long-term care facilities are supposed to properly care for our elderly loved ones and keep them safe, but nursing home abuse and and nursing home neglect are more common than many people believe. If you believe your loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse, our personal injury law firm may be able to help.
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—ones that can put their life in danger.
The Consequences of Medical Negligence
When a person is recovering from a hospital mistake, the damage does not stop there. Medical malpractice victims are likely to suffer physically, emotionally, and financially. A Baltimore medical malpractice attorney from our firm can fight for you to receive financial compensation to help you heal in those three categories. When you have financial security, you can focus on what you need to do to recover.
Errors from physicians or other medical professionals can cause birth defects, chronic pain, disfigurement, and disability. Victims are likely to experience extended recovery times and that’s not a guarantee they’ll make a full recovery. In some medical malpractice cases, a full recovery may not be possible. If medical malpractice caused catastrophic injuries, the patient will likely have it for the rest of their lives. This could impact their ability to be gainfully employed. No longer being able to do their job could threaten their livelihood, sense of purpose, and cause a lot of stress about what the future will hold.
As the patient is learning to live with their injury, they could have to relearn how to take care of themselves. A catastrophic injury like a birth injury often requires intensive care and continued care. For example, medical equipment, physical therapy, and medication may be necessary to maintain a high quality of life. The patient may need additional procedures or surgeries, which will both take time and have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. These procedures pose the risk of hospital-related infections or other complications.
This amount of care can be expensive, and as the person isn’t able to work, they will likely become concerned about not receiving that regular paycheck. This is a lot to deal with for one person, but if the individual also provided for others, then this stress can take a toll on an entire family.
While recovering, victims of negligence shouldn’t have to worry about financial matters. With the right medical negligence attorney from Baltimore, MD, 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.
No one should ever feel like they have to choose between their physical and mental health. With our law firm on your side, we’ll show how the injury has affected your physical and emotional health.
Let’s go over the types of damages our medical malpractice lawyers will fight for you to recover. This way, you’ll have a clear idea of how your financial compensation can help you in this difficult time.
Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers Will Fight for You
When it comes to recovering your losses for a medical injury, your first thought may be toward financial losses like medical bills. While this will make up some part of the compensation amount, there are other kinds of damages you can recover.
Typically, compensation is split into economic and noneconomic damages. Together, they’re supposed to help you get back to the place you were before the accident. While our medical malpractice lawyers cannot undo the injury that resulted from medical malpractice, we can fight for you to recover from it. With fair compensation, you’ll have the security to focus on healing and getting the medical care you need.
Economic damages refer to your financial losses from the injury. This can include:
- Medical Expenses
- Future Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Future Loss of Earnings
The other aspect of compensatory damages is non-economic damages, or the losses of the injury that don’t have a monetary amount. While these may not have a direct monetary loss associated with them, they’re still a major part of the toll the medical error has taken on you. Noneconomic damages can include:
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Lost Parental Guidance
- Emotional Trauma
Sometimes, medical negligence can cause someone to lose their life. If you’ve lost a loved one, our personal injury lawyers are here for you. We can help you seek justice for your loved one by filing a wrongful death claim on their behalf.
The Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC have years of experience in fighting for clients to receive maximum compensation for their injuries. We understand what it takes to build a strong attorney client relationship.
Finding Experienced Legal Representation
Most medical malpractice claims are 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 medical malpractice case will need to succeed. Our Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys know that not all medical malpractice claims are alike.
At Belsky & Horowitz, LLC, we have experience handling complex personal injury claims and medical negligence cases. We’re equipped to handle your medical malpractice suit, birth injury claim, or wrongful death claim. We know it takes diligent research and experience to discover who acted negligently—whether it was an individual or a company.
When you have this financial security set for your future, you’ll be able to move forward with peace of mind. This will allow you to focus on recovering and learning your new normal without thinking about how you’re going to get the medication you need and get food for the week.
An experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer understands how traumatic it is to be a victim of a mistake that should not have occurred. You never expect to sustain injuries because of an error made by someone in the healthcare field. When a trusted professional breaches duty, you deserve financial compensation.
If you’re thinking about pursuing legal action or want to go over the merit of your potential medical malpractice claim, it’s important to act quickly. Contact our firm today to begin your legal journey. We’ll provide you with a free consultation and help you decide how to proceed.