Hospital malpractice can be as a result of any hospital staff (this can include doctors, nurses, technicians, pharmacists and/or any other staff involved) improperly or negligently providing medical care and treatment to a patient, whereby the patient suffers harm, resulting in injury or death. The patient bears the burden of proof in such a claim. It must be proven that such health care providers did not meet the accepted standard of care that could reasonably be expected. Standard of care is a guideline, which is based on the specific treatment and is generally determined based on other health care personnel with the same practice and qualifications would have managed the patient’s treatment. When suing for malpractice in a medical situation, it must be established that there was a breach of this standard of care.
Malpractice claims can be based on many different issues involved in a hospital stay. Included, but not limited to, those issues, are mistaken diagnosis, failure to treat or adequately monitor a patient’s condition, failure to order appropriate and necessary testing and/or refer a patient to a specialist, improperly treating the patient, incorrectly administering medications, improperly using anesthesia or medical equipment, performing procedures unnecessarily or without the proper consent, or not taking necessary precautions to prevent life-threatening infection.
The first step in preserving your rights in a malpractice situation is to seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice matters. There are statutes of limitations (which are filing deadlines) associated with lawsuits of this nature, which vary by state and can be quite short in some cases, so you should consult the attorney as soon as possible in order to protect yourself. An attorney will assess the situation and advise you if your case is worth pursuing against the hospital or any of the hospital staff as a result of your injuries or in the case of a wrongful death of a loved one.
As there is no national system which monitors preventable injuries and/or deaths in hospitals, there are no clear statistics available, however, it is estimated that close to 100,000 people die each year due to preventable medical error. In 2001, the Bureau of Justice Statistics cited in a report that in 1,156 medical malpractice suits litigation, 9 out of 10 involved permanent disability or death as a result of negligent care. The win rate in such cases was only 27% and the median award amount for damages was $425,000. This is in contrast to the win rate and average award in tort cases, which are 52% and $27,000, respectively. Obviously, these figures do not represent those cases that settled prior to a trial.
Not all medical error is malpractice, however. If the hospital staff have done all they can do for a patient and have maintained the acceptable standard of care and yet the patient still suffers injury or death, this would not fall under the category of medical malpractice.