Imagine going to the hospital expecting to get better, only to leave with more problems than you started with. This isn’t just a nightmare scenario—it’s a reality for many. Medical malpractice is a growing issue that affects thousands of people every year. Medical malpractice is a pressing issue that doesn’t receive as much attention as it should. With National Medical Malpractice Awareness Month held every July, it’s time we spotlight this critical subject. The National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association (NMMAA) dedicates this month to raising awareness and reducing instances of medical negligence. At Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault, we focus on helping those harmed by medical negligence seek the justice they rightly deserve.

 

What is Malpractice?

 

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional fails to provide a patient with the requisite standard of care, resulting in harm. According to reports, $60 billion is spent annually on medical malpractice, accounting for about 3% of healthcare costs. But what does malpractice look like in practice?

 

Common Types of Medical Malpractice

 

Medical malpractice can take many forms, each with serious implications for patient health.

Surgical Errors

 

Surgical errors are one of the most alarming types of malpractice. These include anesthesia mistakes, operating on the wrong body part, leaving surgical tools inside the body, or providing negligent post-operative care. Nearly 400,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized for preventable harm annually, with surgical errors being the third leading cause of death nationally.

Misdiagnosis

 

Misdiagnosis is another significant issue. Correct diagnosis is crucial for patient safety; errors can lead to unnecessary and harmful treatments. Research shows that misdiagnosis accounts for 14% of medical errors. Factors contributing to misdiagnosis include improper testing, lack of time and attention to the patient, delayed diagnosis, and failure to follow up.

Birth Injuries

 

Birth injuries are devastating for families, and they occur more frequently than one might think. In the United States, around 30,000 babies are born with an injury at birth each year. At the same time, some minor injuries, over 80%, are considered moderate to severe.  7 out of every 1,000 births result in children with cerebral palsy. All preventable. Complications during delivery, such as excessive bleeding, fetal distress, poor positioning of the baby, or negligence from healthcare professionals, often cause these injuries.

Prescription Errors

 

Prescription errors can range from giving the wrong medication to incorrect dosages, both of which can have life-threatening consequences. These errors often result from poor communication, rushed consultations, or inadequate patient history reviews.

Quick Facts About Medical Negligence

 

Medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the United States. That’s right, only heart disease and cancer claim more lives each year. With over 251,000 deaths annually due to medical errors, it’s clear that this is an issue that needs immediate attention. The annual cost of medical errors in the United States is estimated to be between $17 billion and $29 billion, with healthcare costs accounting for more than half of that. This includes the costs of lost income, household production, disability, and healthcare.

Despite these shocking numbers, deaths caused by medical errors are often underreported. Discussions about prevention mainly occur in limited and confidential forums, and the lessons learned rarely get shared beyond a single institution. This lack of transparency makes it difficult to get an accurate national picture of medical errors. For instance, death certificates in the US have no facility for acknowledging medical errors, which means these deaths go unmeasured.

Why Medical Errors Are Common

 

Medical errors are so prevalent because there is no standard reporting system. Without a unified system, tracking and preventing these mistakes becomes nearly impossible. For example, 195,000 patients die in hospitals each year due to medical errors, yet there is no national database to record these incidents.

Medical Malpractice Terms You Should Know

 

Medical malpractice can be daunting, but it is crucial for anyone receiving medical care. Whether you’ve experienced it firsthand or want to stay informed, this guide will walk you through the essential terms and concepts. Our goal is to equip you with the knowledge to recognize medical malpractice and understand your rights.

Duty of Care

 

Understanding the duty of care is fundamental. Once you become a patient, a doctor is responsible for your health.

What Is Duty of Care?

 

A duty of care arises when you enter a doctor-patient relationship. This means the doctor is legally obligated to act in your best interest. It’s not just about being nice; it’s a professional and ethical requirement.

Examples of Duty of Care

  • No Duty of Care: If you read a social media post by a celebrity doctor recommending a pill, they have no duty of care toward you. You are not their patient.
  • Duty of Care: When your doctor advises you to take medication for high blood pressure, they have taken you on as a patient and must act in your best interest.

Standard of Care

 

The standard of care refers to the degree of attention, caution, and prudence that a reasonable doctor would exercise in a particular situation. Doctors who fail to meet this standard may be found negligent.

 

What Is Standard of Care?

 

The standard of care refers to the degree of attention, caution, and prudence that a reasonable doctor would exercise in a particular situation. If a doctor fails to meet this standard, they may be found negligent.

Establishing Standard of Care

 

In medical malpractice cases, establishing the standard of care involves determining what a competent doctor would do under similar circumstances. This standard can vary depending on the medical condition and the available treatments.

Informed Consent

 

Before any medical procedure, informed consent is essential.

What Is Informed Consent?

 

Informed consent means that doctors must inform patients of the risks associated with a procedure. Patients need to understand these risks before agreeing to the treatment.

Why Informed Consent Matters

 

Doctors cannot proceed with treatment without informed consent. If patients decide to proceed with the procedure after being fully informed, they assume liability for any potential risks.

Never Event

 

Never Events are a subset of patient safety incidents that are preventable and are so severe that they should never occur.

What Is a Never Event?

 

A never event is an egregious medical mistake, such as performing surgery on the wrong body part or leaving a surgical instrument inside a patient. These mistakes are inexcusable and often lead to severe consequences.

Examples of Never Events

 

  • Wrong-Site Surgery: Operating on the wrong part of the body.
  • Surgical Tools Left Inside: Forgetting a surgical instrument inside a patient during surgery.

Error of Omission/Commission

 

Medical malpractice can be categorized into errors of omission and commission.

What Is an Error of Omission?

 

Some errors of commission may qualify as never events; however, not all errors of commission meet the criteria for never events in the context of medical malpractice

What Is an Error of Commission?

 

An error of commission occurs when a doctor does something they shouldn’t have done, such as administering the wrong blood type during a transfusion.

Recognizing Medical Malpractice

 

Identifying medical malpractice involves knowing the signs.

Signs of Medical Malpractice

  • Unexpected Complications: If you experience unexpected complications after a procedure, it could indicate malpractice.
  • Lack of Informed Consent: If you weren’t informed about the risks of a procedure, you might have grounds for a malpractice claim.
  • Errors in Treatment: Mistakes like receiving the wrong medication or undergoing unnecessary surgery can be signs of malpractice.

Seeking Justice After a Medical Mistake

 

To seek compensation for medical malpractice, you must show economic and non-economic damages due to negligence. Firstly, economic damages cover lost wages and medical bills, while non-economic damages include pain, suffering, or loss of companionship. In Ohio, economic damages are unlimited, ensuring recovery of medical expenses and lost wages on a successful trial. However, non-economic damages are capped at $250,000 or three times your economic damages unless the injury is permanent and significantly affects self-care, raising the cap to $500,000.

When to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

 

A statute of limitations is a state law that sets a time limit for filing a lawsuit after experiencing a loss or injury. Ohio has a specific statute of limitations for medical malpractice suits outlined in the Ohio Revised Code section 2305.113. It states that plaintiffs must file their lawsuits in the state’s civil court system within one year of the medical error occurrence.

Ohio courts have clarified that the one-year period begins upon discovering the injury or the termination of the doctor-patient relationship, whichever is later. Despite this, section 2305.113 imposes a four-year deadline for medical malpractice lawsuits.

Exceptions exist to the one-year/four-year deadline in section 2305.113. If the injury couldn’t have been discovered within three years but is later found within four years, the lawsuit can be filed within a year of discovery. Furthermore, even after our years, a lawsuit can be filed within a year of discovering a foreign object left in the body during a medical procedure.

The one-year limit may be extended by almost six months by sending a formal notice to the defendants via certified mail indicating intent to sue for malpractice. The notice must be received before the one-year deadline ends, allowing 180 days to file the lawsuit. This strategic timing can buy extra time for filing.

If the medical malpractice statute of limitations has expired and a lawsuit is still filed, the defendant will likely seek dismissal from the court, which will end the lawsuit.

Wrongful Death and Loss of Chance

 

There is a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death due to malpractice. Moreover, loss of chance claims address situations where a loved one had less than an even chance of surviving due to negligence. Furthermore, compensation can be sought for the lost chance of survival caused by the provider’s negligence.

Contact Us Today For A Free Consultation

 

Dealing with the aftermath of medical negligence or the loss of a loved one due to such negligence can be a challenging and emotional time. It’s essential to have an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can guide you through the legal process and help you seek justice. At Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault law firm, we understand the importance of providing our clients with compassionate and knowledgeable legal services. That’s why we offer a free consultation to discuss your concerns and provide guidance on the following steps.

Call Your Toledo medical malpractice lawyers at 419-843-6663 to get started, or use our easy online contact form today.

If you or a loved one reside in Ohio or Michigan – MaumeeDefianceFremontFindlayLimaMansfieldToledo, and Monroe – and are searching for “Medical Malpractice Lawyers near me,” trust Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault. With a local Toledo personal injury attorney near you, help is just a phone call away.