Errors made by healthcare providers can have a long-reaching impact on a patient’s life, often causing substantial pain and suffering, permanent disabilities, forced career change or retirement, stress and tension within relationships and even death.
For this reason, healthcare providers carry significant insurance policies to pay for their mistakes and to compensate patients and their families for errors. You need an experienced and assertive attorney to represent you in your fight against insurance companies to win compensation for injuries sustained as a result of medical malpractice. The medical malpractice lawyers at Zirkin & Schmerling Law can help you through this complicated process, giving you a voice in the Maryland legal system and fighting for the justice you deserve.
What is Medical Malpractice?
The Hippocratic Oath states that a doctor shall “do no harm.” However, sometimes harm occurs at the hands of a medical professional.
Medical malpractice, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, is “any act or omission by a physician during treatment of a patient that deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community and causes an injury to the patient.”
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider “breaches the standard of care,” which equates to negligence for doctors and healthcare professionals. The “standard of care” is what a reasonably competent healthcare provider with similar training and experience would do under the same or similar circumstances. When a healthcare provider breaches the “standard of care” and that negligence results in injury, a potential medical malpractice claim exists.
Examples of a breach of “standard of care” include:
- Failure to diagnose: This breach occurs when a healthcare provider overlooks symptoms and does not provide an individual with a diagnosis that could be reasonably made by a doctor in their position.
- Misdiagnosis of an illness or injury: This is the result of a medical professional diagnosing a patient incorrectly and treating them for the wrong disease or condition, resulting in additional medical costs and the prolongment or advancement of the injury or illness.
- Failure to properly administer treatment: This occurs when a healthcare provider, for reasons within their control, fails to treat a patient in a timely or acceptable manner.
- Failure to receive informed patient consent before treatment: In the United States, healthcare officials are required to receive informed consent from the patient or the designated spokesperson about the risks and benefits involved with any treatment or procedure before undertaking it.
- Improperly prescribing medications: This breach occurs when a professional prescribes an incorrect medicine for the patient or condition, either through misdiagnosis or failure to take the patient’s medical history, current medications and allergies into account.
- Surgical errors: Any errors made by professional medical personnel during a surgical procedure that could have been reasonably avoided, such as misuse of tools or improper performance, fall under this breach.
- Premature discharge: This occurs when healthcare professionals discharge a patient from their care when one could reasonably argue that the patient required further treatment.
- Failure to properly take patient history into account: This breach occurs when a medical professional fails to know the patient’s mental, physical and medical history before treatment and an injury or illness occurs because of the error.
Medical Malpractice Quick Facts
- According to a 2018 study conducted by Johns Hopkins, more than 250,000 Americans die each year due to medical mistakes.
- This means in the United States, medical errors are the third leading cause of death, following heart disease and cancer, which translates to 10 percent of American deaths annually caused by medical error.
- In 2017 alone, over 10,000 medical malpractice claims were paid in the United States, totaling over $3.5 billion. Maryland ranks 10th in the number of malpractice suits per one million residents.
While it can be alarming to hear, this data points to an unequivocal truth: While medical professionals are caring, dedicated, intelligent individuals, they are also human and prone to error.
If you or a loved one suffers as the result of a medical error, you have options, and you deserve justice. One way to achieve justice through compensation is to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Why File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Worried that the damage is already done? That the hassle of filing a lawsuit won’t get back your health or the years without pain? That you won’t ever be able to recoup he financial losses incurred from ongoing medical treatment or the inability to maintain your career and lifestyle due to medical negligence?
While you or a loved one may have needlessly suffered due to the negligence of a medical professional, your story doesn’t have to end there.
Reclaim your dignity, authority and financial losses by filing a medical malpractice claim. Under Maryland law, you may be entitled to a number of recoverable damages.
Understanding Recoverable Damages?
Injuries that result from medical malpractice can give rise to a variety of recoverable damages, or compensation. These damages are typically broken down into three main categories: general damages, special damages and punitive damages.
General damages refer to losses sustained by the claimant that, while they do not result in financial losses, result in emotional trauma or losses that affect the quality of life. These include:
- Loss of consortium or the inability to perform or receive the benefits of familial or spousal relationships due to injury or illness related to medical mistakes.
- The inability to perform household duties such as housework, cooking or childcare.
- Past pain and suffering that is both physical and emotional.
- Future pain and suffering that is both physical and emotional.
Because of the divergent forms these damages can take, awards can vary from case to case.
Whereas general damages are difficult to quantify, special damages have measurable qualities. They include:
- Past medical expenses related to improper care or to remedy improper care.
- Past lost wages due to the inability to work or perform tasks associated with one’s career as the result of injury or illness incurred from medical malpractice.
- Future medical expenses related to improper care or to remedy improper care.
- Future lost wages due to the inability to work or perform tasks associated with one’s career as the result of injury or illness incurred from medical malpractice.
- Past accommodation costs required to medically and physically accommodate one due to injury or illness resulting from improper care.
- Future accommodations required to medically and physically accommodate one due to injury or illness resulting from improper care.
Punitive damages serve to provide punishment to the medical practitioner responsible for your pain and suffering. These types of damages are rarely awarded and usually are not sought unless it can be proven that the healthcare professional not only acted with negligence but malicious intent. If you have the belief that a medical professional acted with intent to harm, contact us immediately to discuss your case.
Types of Medical Malpractice Cases We Handle?
Zirkin & Schmerling Law handles a variety of medical malpractice cases. We will investigate any case where a doctor, nurse, hospital or other healthcare professional breached the standard of care and where negligence caused an injury. These cases include:
Did a loved one lose their life as the result of negligent medical care such as improperly diagnosed conditions, improper treatment or surgical error? Find out about the options you have to seek retribution.
Medical malpractice during childbirth, a time that should be one of the most joyful experiences for a family, can be heartbreaking. Obstetricians can breach the “standard of care” by failing to accurately calculate the size of a fetus, mistiming the delivery of a fetus due to improper dating of the pregnancy, failing to address Rh incompatibility between mother and fetus, improperly performing or failing to perform a timely C-section, and other delivery or extraction errors. Such negligence can result in infection, injury, trauma and even death in mother or infant.
Spinal Cord Injuries/Paralysis
Spinal cord injuries that result in paralysis can be tragic and are particularly devastating if such an injury could have been avoided. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center has found that up to 4.6% of all spinal cord injuries are the result of medical malpractice.
Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
Nursing, convalescent and rehabilitation home facilities have a responsibility to keep their occupants safe, secure and well-cared for. If you or a loved one suffered abuse or injury while in a facility, there are steps you can take to seek justice and ensure safety. Remove yourself or your loved one from the facility, report any abuses to the police, and contact our lawyers for help with a medical malpractice suit. Additional resources on elder rights can be found here.
Loss of limb as the result of medical malpractice is a severe outcome that can come about from a failure to diagnose injection or surgical error, such as operating on the wrong limb, using unclean or improper surgical instruments or failing to remove all instruments from the patient during surgery.
Injuries to Internal Organs
Errors such as wrong-site surgery, performing a surgical procedure on the wrong patient, leaving instruments inside the body or perforating organs can lead to lasting internal organ, such as kidney damage, or nerve damage and even death, and all of these are avoidable.
The antibiotic gentamicin, while beneficial for numerous infections, also has some evidence of risk when prescribed for a prolonged period. Toxicity or poisoning as the result of an extended or high dose of gentamicin can lead to inner ear and kidney damage. Healthcare professionals who ignore the signs of such toxicity have failed to uphold the “standard of care” required of them. If you or a loved one suffered from gentamicin toxicity, you may have a case for medical malpractice.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds, and every four minutes someone dies of a stroke. Failure to properly diagnose a stroke or transient ischemic attack can result in avoidable brain damage for the patient or death.
Failure to Diagnose
When a doctor fails to diagnose a patient correctly, the results can vary from unnecessary, prolonged pain and suffering to death. Failure to diagnose cancer is considered a misdiagnosis.
Prescribing the wrong medicine or dosage can be catastrophic for a patient, and doctors must take their condition, allergies and medical history into account. A recent study finds in the United States alone, between 7,000 and 9,000 people die as a result of a medication error.
Any avoidable errors to life or limb that occur while undergoing a surgical procedure can result in medical malpractice. Johns Hopkins University finds such mistakes occur over 4,000 times a year in the United States.
Untreated Infection & Sepsis
Proper and timely diagnosis of sepsis is crucial, and the lack of such can prove fatal for the patient. A recent scholarly study indicates hospitals are “overburdened” by sepsis, with 1.5 million people affected with sepsis in the United States annually. Sepsis can be caused by infections from IV lines, bed linens, surgical wounds and improperly diagnosed or untreated infections.
How Do I File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
There are several necessary steps involved in filing a medical malpractice claim, and many of the legal steps will be taken once you have consulted with an attorney.
Typically, to prove medical malpractice, you will need to meet four main requirements, often referred to as “the four D’s.” These four elements are:
Duty – The doctor has a legal duty to provide proper care and treatment to the patient.
Duty can often be proven with medical documents that showcase the patient was receiving treatment from the doctor in question during the period of injury.
Dereliction – Said doctor breached this duty by failing to adhere to professional standards.
Proof of misdiagnosis, surgical error, failure to treat and prescription error are all examples of breaches that can establish dereliction on the part of the medical professional.
Damages – There is a relationship between said doctor’s breach of duty and injury to the patient. Medical, pharmaceutical and financial records, as well as statements from other doctors, bosses and family members can help provide evidence of both non-economic and economic damages.
Direct Cause – This relationship is the direct cause of the patient’s injury. You will want to be able to prove that you or someone other than the defendant is not also directly or indirectly responsible for the injury.
Before beginning the claim process, you may consider:
- Contacting the medical professional involved. Be sure that you have determined there are no remedies for your current situation and that you have any and all documents from your time in their treatment.
- Seeking a second opinion. Find out if another medical professional believes your situation resulted from negligence.
- Checking that you are within the statute of limitations for your malpractice claim.
- Securing an experienced lawyer to determine if your case is actionable and to represent you and your interests.
How to Select an Experienced Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
In a situation that involves navigating the complex matters of medical malpractice and cutthroat insurance companies, you need a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer who can handle the multiple legal issues that arise. Consider these important factors:
- Experience. Do they have the credentials to represent you? Are they experienced with many types of medical malpractice cases in Maryland?
- Results. A good medical malpractice attorney will serve as your legal voice during a difficult time when you may be overwhelmed. Can your lawyer get the best possible results for you while minimizing the impact of this case on your family’s lives?
- Reputation. Your lawyer must have a golden reputation with the courts and a firm grasp of the precise laws involved with medical malpractice actions. Does your lawyer have a reputation for getting very positive results for clients in medical malpractice cases?
Your dignity and future and the quality of life of your dependents are contingent upon the outcome of this case. There’s only one name you should keep in mind when you’re considering experience, results and reputation for Maryland’s medical malpractice cases. That name is Zirkin & Schmerling.
Call Zirkin & Schmerling Law today at 410-753-4611. Our lawyers can provide an initial evaluation of your case entirely free of charge. We can’t erase the effects of medical malpractice but we can give you the representation, understanding of pain, suffering and financial losses at the hands of negligent medical providers and advocacy you deserve moving forward to reclaim your autonomy.
Need Answers About Medical Malpractice? We’re Here to Help
If you have been injured as a result of medical malpractice, call the lawyers at Zirkin & Schmerling Law to discuss your case. We understand that enduring medical malpractice can be a confusing, frustrating and traumatic experience. You need someone on your side who will help restore your peace of mind, dignity, and rights.