Medical care comes with unavoidable complications and reasonable room for human error. However, many medical procedures should not result in the harm that they do, and it is often because of avoidable mistakes and negligence that patients suffer.
If you needed additional medical care to make up for your doctor’s mistakes, or if you were not properly diagnosed and faced additional health complications because of it, you could be entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. Our attorneys represent injury victims and their families in lawsuits against hospitals, doctors, and other negligent care providers.
Call Legal Care New Jersey’s medical malpractice lawyers today at (732) 838-9769 for a free review of your potential malpractice case.
Identifying Medical Malpractice vs. Complications in Elizabeth, NJ
As mentioned, some medical procedures and treatments come with complications. These are sometimes within the acceptable risks of surgery or medical care, and doctors should warn you about these risks before letting you consent to the procedures. However, once the harm has been done, it can be difficult to tell if what happened to you was a simple complication or a mistake that you deserve compensation for.
Standard of Care
Courts and medical malpractice lawyers can distinguish between malpractice and mere complications by looking at the doctor’s actions and weighing them against the “standard of care.” Negligence – the basic cause of action underlying a medical malpractice claim – only occurs when the doctor or other care provider fails to uphold the duty they owe you as a patient. That duty is called the “standard of care,” and what comports with the standard of care varies from case to case.
Because of this, lawyers usually need to have a medical expert analyze your case and give an expert opinion about whether what happened to you was within the standard of care or whether it fell short. For example, even the best doctors and surgeons might not be able to remove a brain tumor without harming some of the healthy tissue around it – but it would take an expert in brain surgery to determine whether a doctor cut away more than a reasonable amount of healthy tissue.
Getting a Second Opinion
Just because the ultimate outcome of your procedure was bad does not mean that the doctor was automatically negligent. However, it is often difficult for everyday patients who have no medical degrees of their own to tell the difference. Because of this, most people cannot tell if they were the victim of malpractice until they seek a second opinion from another physician and talk to a medical malpractice lawyer about what happened to them.
In many cases, telling the difference between complications and malpractice is even more difficult because the doctor might have lied or misled you about what happened. Many patients wake up from surgery with pain, discomfort, or mobility issues. The doctor might inform them that this is merely an expected side effect of the surgery, but that is often said to cover up the fact that something went wrong during the procedure. In some cases, the doctor might not actually know that something went wrong, such as in cases where a surgical sponge or other instrument was accidentally left inside the patient’s surgical site.
In either case – whether the doctor knew of the true mistake or not – this could be construed as fraudulent concealment, which makes it harder to discover the true cause behind your pain and discomfort. However, a second opinion and access to your medical records can help you find out what happened to you.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice Claims in Elizabeth, NJ
There are multiple types of medical malpractice cases that you can sue doctors and hospitals for in New Jersey. In most situations, the core cause of action is the same in that the victim claims the doctor was negligent and violated the standard of care in treating them. However, the facts can fall into very different types of situations:
Misdiagnosis and Failure to Diagnose
If your doctor fails to diagnose your condition, you could be entitled to compensation for your worsened condition and the additional care needed to make up for the missed treatment. For example, many cancers can be treated and are quite survivable if they are caught early. If your doctor failed to diagnose you and let the cancer get worse, it might become harder to operate on or require additional chemotherapy/radiotherapy – or it could go from survivable to terminal. You should be entitled to compensation for the additional medical care costs and for the “lost chance” caused by the worsened condition.
With misdiagnosis, as opposed to failure to diagnose, you are often treated for a condition you do not in fact have. Many medical interventions can be harmful if you do not have the right condition, all while the true condition goes untreated. This can cause additional harm you can seek compensation for.
There are many complications that can occur when giving birth, but many of them are avoidable with a doctor who has the proper skills and training. If your doctor failed to turn to an emergency C-section, failed to screen for hereditary conditions, or made mistakes during the delivery process, your child could be born with long-term health consequences like brain damage or cerebral palsy. Some of these conditions could ultimately be the doctor’s fault.
Staph infections, MRSA, and other infections are common in hospitals where patients’ rooms are not properly cleaned and disinfected, when patients’ dressings and bandages are not properly changed, or when patients at risk of infection are not given the proper prophylactic antibiotics after surgery. Acquiring an infection in the hospital could lead to extended recovery times, and in serious cases could lead to sepsis and further health complications.
Often, these cases are filed against the hospital rather than a specific doctor.
Retained Sponges and Instruments
As mentioned, some patients recover from surgery only to find that the medical team left surgical sponges or other instruments inside their surgical site. Doctors and nurses are supposed to count sponges and recover all tools and instruments before suturing up a patient, and it is usually an undeniable mistake to leave anything inside the patient aside from intentional medical implants and sutures.
Other Surgical Errors
Nicked arteries, severed nerves, and other surgical mistakes are also common forms of medical malpractice. Doctors should be held liable for these errors in medical malpractice lawsuits.
Call Our Elizabeth, NJ Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today
For help with your injury case, contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Legal Care New Jersey today by dialing (732) 838-9769.