Fairfield or San Jose Area Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Most doctors are dedicated professionals, but even good doctors make mistakes. Unfortunately, some doctors make mistakes again and again. When a mistake is an avoidable result of not adhering to the standard of care that prudent doctors would follow, patients who are injured by the mistake can pursue medical malpractice compensation.
Medical errors are more common than most people realize. A recent study by Johns Hopkins patient safety experts determined that more than 250,000 patients in the United States die every year from medical errors. Since medical errors are notoriously underreported, that number falls far short of the true death toll caused by medical malpractice. Some studies have concluded that as many as 440,000 patients die every year because a doctor made a mistake. By any standard, the consensus of opinion is that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer.
A much higher number of patients are injured because of medical mistakes. Injuries may include a shortened life expectancy, brain damage in newborns, corrective surgery that should not have been necessary, prolonged illness, and nerve damage that causes a lifetime of pain.
If you were injured by medical malpractice, or if your spouse or close relative died from an avoidable medical error, you are entitled to compensation. A personal injury lawyer at KKG Law can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Our personal injury team represents medical malpractice victims in Oakland, San Jose, Fairfield, and all other Bay Area communities.
Medical Malpractice and the Standard of Care
Medical malpractice is the term that judges and lawyers use to describe errors that medical professionals make because they failed to provide the standard of care that most reasonably cautious professionals who practice in the same field of medicine would have provided. Medical malpractice law recognizes that certain risks are unavoidable, no matter how careful the doctor has been. Medical professionals are only held accountable when they are not as careful as they should have been, and when their lack of care injures or kills a patient.
Establishing the appropriate standard of care is critical in a medical malpractice case. It is nearly always necessary to obtain the expert opinion of a medical professional who practices in the same field as the person who committed the medical error.
Medical malpractice can be committed by any physician, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, OB/GYNs, radiologists, and internists. Dentists can also be held accountable for professional malpractice, as can hospitals when nurses and other staff members are negligent.
Errors made by surgeons are among the most common reasons for patients or surviving family members to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit. Examples of surgical errors include:
- Leaving sponges or instruments in a patient’s body after surgery
- Operating on the wrong part of the body
- Making a careless incision that causes internal bleeding
Mistakes made by anesthesiologists during surgery can also lead to malpractice claims. Administering an incorrect dose of an anesthetic or administering an anesthetic to which a patient has an allergy are among the medical errors committed by anesthesiologists.
Medical errors made during prenatal care or during childbirth can harm a newborn baby. Examples include:
- Injuring a baby by the improper use of forceps during delivery
- Causing a shoulder injury (shoulder dystocia) to the baby by using improper delivery techniques
- Failing to recognize the warning signs of fetal distress
- Failing to perform a Caesarian section in time to avoid brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation
Negligent prenatal care can also harm a pregnant woman. The failure to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy or to recognize a medical condition that will make delivery dangerous are examples of prenatal malpractice.
The most common but least frequently reported medical errors made by doctors involve an incorrect diagnosis or the failure to diagnose a disease. The failure to recognize the early signs of cancer, for example, can rob a patient of years of life by delaying treatment that would prevent the disease from progressing. The failure to order diagnostic tests that a prudent doctor would order often contributes to diagnostic errors. Misreading an X-ray or an MRI result can also contribute to an injury by delaying necessary treatment.
The failure to treat an injury or disease effectively by using advanced techniques can sometimes be attributed to a doctor’s failure to keep abreast of medical literature. Improper treatment can also injure patients. Burning a patient with a laser while treating a skin condition or improperly positioning a needle during an epidural steroid injection are examples of treatment errors.
The most common error in hospitals involves the administration of medicine. Nurses who misread a doctor’s instructions, or who mix up patients, sometimes give a patient the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage. Patients suffer or their health deteriorates when they do not receive the medication they need, and can suffer serious harm if they receive an overdose or a medication to which they are allergic.
Informed Consent Errors
No patient should undergo surgery, submit to any other treatment, or take a medication without understanding the potential risks and benefits. When risks are known, doctors have an obligation to disclose them to patients. The failure to obtain a patient’s informed consent to a medical procedure or to the administration of a medication with potentially dangerous side effects is a form of medical malpractice.
Medical Malpractice Compensation
Patients who are injured by medical malpractice have the right to pursue compensation. A patient may be entitled to:
- The cost of corrective surgery or additional medical treatment required to cure the harm caused by malpractice
- The income the patient will lose due a disabling health condition caused by malpractice
- The additional income the patient would have earned if the patient’s lifespan had not been shortened because of medical errors
- The expense of coping with a disabling condition cause by malpractice
- Pain, suffering, emotional distress, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment of life
A medical malpractice attorney at KKG Law can advise victims of medical malpractice about the remedies to which they may be entitled. Our personal injury team represents medical malpractice victims in Oakland, San Jose, Fairfield, and all other Bay Area communities.