Medical malpractice claims have long been at the center of an intense and complicated battle over the role of tort law in the United States. Patients’ rights advocates have argued that because of the harm that may result from a negligent doctor, nurse, or pharmacist’s care the harmed individuals and their families deserve financial compensation for both tangible (such as medical bills and legal fees) and intangible (such as psychological trauma and loss of consortium) effects of defective healthcare. Opponents have held the position that the awards made in these cases are outlandish and make it prohibitively expensive for healthcare professionals to carry the requisite insurance so that they may continue to practice.
Part of the problem in resolving this tension is due to the fact that “medical malpractice” is an umbrella term that captures an incredibly broad range of instances. The basic standard that must be met is that all care administered must concur with the actions and discretion of any reasonable healthcare provider in the same situation. When a caregiver acts in a manner contrary to that, then there may be grounds for a malpractice action against the responsible parties.
Mistakes are Made
In any occupation, mistakes are inevitable. Factor in the high stress and rapid pace of the modern medical environment and one will quickly observe that the risk of such mistakes is bound to increase. The high stakes involved, however, make these mistakes especially problematic because even an error that requires but a small physical or mental misstep can grievously injure a patient and may prove fatal. While a quick thinking and alert team may resolve many of these mistakes, others medical errors permit no such relief. It is this second set of concerns that most commonly results in a malpractice claim.
There are some errors that can be understood as simple mistakes. They may still warrant a malpractice claim, but they do not defy logic in the way that the most extreme forms of medical malpractice will. As unbelievable as it may seem, the items on the following list affect the lives of many patients each year in the United States:
- Wrong-site surgery (i.e., performing a procedure on the left leg instead of the right)
- Wrong organ removal (i.e., removing the gall bladder instead of the appendix)
- Wrong patient surgery (i.e., performing an operation on a patient other than the intended)
Where to Turn
If you or someone you love has been harmed by medical malpractice, there are many different issues with which you must contend. It is natural to feel anger, sadness, and frustration. But the financial implications can be particularly troubling. To learn more about your legal rights if you have been the victim of a negligent medical professional, you may wish to speak with the Charleston medical malpractice lawyers of the Steinberg Law Firm.