The first time most people give any thought to what medical malpractice is and how it’s handled under the law is when they find themselves facing a situation where pursuing a medical malpractice claim might be appropriate. Some medical malpractice concerns can be complicated, but understanding the basics isn’t difficult.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
If a person suffers an injury or illness because of the actions or inactions of a medical provider, it may qualify as medical malpractice. That covers a lot of ground, but there are two basic ideas to keep in mind:
- Did a medical practitioner cause the injury or illness through something he or she did?
- Did a medical practitioner cause the injury or illness through something he or she didn’t do?
Each of these things comes down to a simple idea: Was a medical professional negligent in the treatment given or not given, and did that negligence lead to harm?
Many Types of Harm
Many different things can lead to harm through medical malpractice. You might think of the obvious, such as surgical errors (operating on the wrong leg, for instance, or leaving a tool inside a patient after an operation).
You might also think of a medication error, such as when a patient is given the wrong drug or not given a drug he or she should receive, as well as receiving a drug that interacts dangerously with one a patient is already using.
But malpractice can include the failure to diagnose an injury or illness (missing the problem), as well as misdiagnosis (treating the wrong problem). It can also include birth injuries inflicted during delivery and even problems caused during pregnancy, such as a birth defect caused by a drug the mother shouldn’t have been prescribed.
A Common Problem
It doesn’t make the news every day, but medical malpractice is very common. Last year, a team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University took a hard look at the available data and found that medical errors might be the third leading cause of death in the US, accounting for nearly 10 percent of all deaths.
That conclusion was controversial, but the problem is certainly larger than the healthcare industry likes to admit. The number of those injured by preventable medical errors could be even more enormous. Many injured patients, unfortunately, never pursue compensation. It’s important to do so, not only for the future financial security of victims and their families, but also to hold physicians accountable for their mistakes and prevent them from harming others.
Louisiana Damage Cap
Louisiana is one of several states that, by law, has a cap on the amount a victim can collect in a malpractice case ($500,000) above any direct expenses. This limit has been in place for forty-three years, and the most recent effort to raise it through the state legislature died last spring.
Fortunately, the cap does not apply to future medical expenses related to an injury. Patients harmed by a medical provider who win their cases can have the costs of their ongoing care paid as part of a judgment.
Despite the cap, victims of medical malpractice in Louisiana received a total of more than $47 million in payments on their claims last year. Patients are being harmed, but they also receive compensation.
Baton Rouge Medical Malpractice Lawyer
When you or a loved one has been harmed by a healthcare professional (a doctor, nurse, or other practitioner), you want to be made whole again.
At Spencer Calahan Injury Lawyers, our team has experience helping clients reach successful resolutions to their medical malpractice claims. We offer every client a free consultation, so you have nothing to lose. Give us a call at 225-387-2323 or fill out the form at the bottom of the page to get started.