Enlisting the care of a medical professional should be a positive experience. When you do so, you rely on your provider’s years of education and experience to help him or her correctly diagnose and treat what ails you. You expect, reasonably, that the provider you have chosen will do everything within his or her power to ensure that further harm will not afflict you unnecessarily. In Georgia and elsewhere, this is known as “standard of care.” Unfortunately, there are times when medical providers do not fulfill their end of the bargain. This post will give you an overview of what constitutes medical malpractice and the steps to follow if you believe that you have a case to make.
What is Standard of Care?
This term describes the accepted practices of medical professionals that patients can reasonably expect on a consistent basis. As you may expect, different professions are held to different standards. For instance, nurses are held to a higher standard than nurses’ assistants because they have comparatively more responsibility for the patients’ care. Establishing standard of care is essential in determining whether malpractice has occurred. In instances in which a medical provider acted outside the boundaries of these standards and a harm was inflicted, then there may be grounds to move forward with a suit.
What is Medical Malpractice?
The best way to answer this question is to begin by considering how many aspects there are to medical care. For starters, if you are suffering from a physical condition, a doctor must diagnose you. For some conditions, this involves a number of tests, some of which are invasive and time-consuming. Once you are diagnosed, you enter the world of treatment. Do you require surgery? Medication? If it is the former, consider for a moment how many things can go wrong. This obviously depends on the type of surgery, but even for “minor” ones, there are elements involved that can be life-threatening. If you require anesthesia, that must be administered properly. If you require shots, then your chart must be properly consulted by a nurse or doctor to ensure that any allergies you have are accounted for. If you require medication, then your doctor or physician’s assistant must prescribe the right type and dose of drugs and then a pharmacist must provide you with the same. Too much, too little, or the wrong kind of medication could result in disaster. If at any point during these procedures, the medical professional you employed acted with negligence that resulted in harm, those actions would likely constitute medical malpractice. Different forms of malpractice can include:
- Mistakes made during surgery
- Failure to prescribe and/or provide correct medication
- Negligent care during pregnancy and/or childbirth
- Discharge from care prematurely
- Failure to adequately follow-up
- Failure to consider patient’s history
The key to medical malpractice suits is proving the existence of negligence. There are times when harm occurs despite the fact that doctors or other medical professionals have acted in good faith. If this is the case, then medical malpractice suits do not hold water. However, if a medical professional acted in a way that caused harm and acted irresponsibly, then a lawsuit is possible.
Limits on Medical Malpractice
Some may wonder whether the death of a loved one caused by the negligence of a medical provider can also be considered medical malpractice. The short answer is yes. If you are the spouse, child, or the individual managing the estate of someone who died because of a medical provider’s carelessness, then you may want to consult an attorney to pursue legal action. In cases such as these, you may expect to pursue a wrongful death civil suit instead of a personal injury medical malpractice case. In these cases, defendants found liable may be held financially accountable for funeral expenses, lost wages, and intangible losses, like the inability of a parent to care for the emotional well-being of a child.
Contact a Georgia Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one suffered a personal injury as a result of medical malpractice, then you may be entitled to compensation. Medical providers are expected to act within the confines of established standards of care. If they operate outside the norms of their profession, it is unethical and potentially life-threatening behavior. These individuals have enormous responsibility over the lives and health of their patients. If you believe the care you received resulted in an unnecessary injury, then please contact one of our attorneys at Schneider Hammers today. No one should suffer because of the negligence of another.