What is Medical Malpractice? In Georgia, medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional deviates from the standard of care and injures a patient. Poor medical results alone are not necessarily malpractice.
The medical professional or institution must depart from the customary care within the medical field for the patient’s condition, and that departure must cause the patient’s death or injury. Medical malpractice insurers pay millions of dollars in claims for medical malpractice every year.
Don’t try to answer the highly technical question of whether your medical professional committed malpractice. If you suffered a serious adverse result from your medical treatment, retain Duluth medical malpractice attorney Charles Scholle of Scholle Law to investigate your case.
Charles Scholle has decades of experience representing clients seriously injured by medical malpractice. He and his expert team can determine whether your injury is due to medical malpractice.
What are some examples of medical malpractice?
The classic example of what medical malpractice is might be a surgeon leaving scissors or a scalpel inside a patient. Doing so would certainly violate the surgeon’s standard of care, which would include removing all foreign objects from the surgical site before closing the surgical wound.
But medical malpractice can be much more subtle, involving any departure from customary care that causes patient injury. Other examples of medical malpractice include:
- A physician fails to diagnose a patient’s standard signs and symptoms of appendicitis, allowing the appendix to burst, causing severe infection and internal scarring.
- A surgeon fails to identify and segregate nerves controlling the vocal cords when operating on a tumor, with the result that the surgeon mistakenly cuts the cords, causing the patient permanent loss of voice.
- A surgical nurse fails to count sponges used to pack the surgical site. A sponge is left inside the patient causing long-term infection, pain, and nerve damage.
- Radiologists misinterpret bone imaging as benign when the images clearly indicate bone cancer and tumors, delaying chemotherapy and other reliable life-saving treatment, causing the patient’s death.
- A medical laboratory fails to follow testing protocol, inadvertently swapping patient specimens, resulting in one patient’s misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment for cancer and another patient’s misdiagnosis and failure to timely treat recoverable cancer.
- Hospital staff fails to clean a fluid pump overnight, resulting in bacteria growth pumped into several surgical patients the next day, causing severe infections, pain, medical expense, and delayed recoveries.
Who can commit medical malpractice?
Physicians commonly make the most impactful medical diagnoses and treatment recommendations. Physicians are thus generally the ones most likely to commit malpractice. But as the above examples indicate, other licensed medical professionals like radiologists, anesthetists, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, and even mental health professionals can also commit malpractice.
Medical institutions like hospitals, clinics, practice groups, and laboratories are also generally vicariously liable for the malpractice that their employees commit. Institutional liability can be important to insurance recoveries.
Again, don’t attempt to judge who is liable and whether insurance covers that liability without retaining experienced counsel. Medical diagnosis and treatment commonly involve a network of professionals and institutions with overlapping roles and responsibilities.
Trust premier personal injury lawyer Charles Scholle and the expert medical malpractice team at Scholle Law to sort out the responsible parties to evaluate your claim.
How often does medical malpractice occur?
Surprisingly often. A famous Harvard Medical Practice study published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined over 30,000 medical files drawn at random from 51 randomly selected New York state hospitals. The study showed that nearly four percent of hospitalizations produced adverse events, more than one-quarter of which were due to medical error. While most of the adverse events caused disability lasting less than six months, nearly 14% of the adverse events led to the patient’s death.
Unlike other causes of death, death certificates in the U.S. don’t record medical care as a cause of death in any standardized fashion. Evidence of a surprisingly large number of medical errors leading to death spurred Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine patient safety experts to conduct another study two decades after the initial Harvard study. The Johns Hopkins experts found that more than a quarter-million patients die annually in the U.S. due to medical error.
If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were to track such deaths, that figure would surpass respiratory disease as the third-leading cause of U.S. deaths.
Put plainly, medical malpractice is a public health scourge that premier personal-injury attorney Charles Scholle and the expert medical malpractice team at Scholle Law commit their suburban Atlanta law practice to address.
Aren’t most medical malpractice lawsuits frivolous?
No. Trial lawyers and their lawsuits make easy and popular political targets. Politicians freely criticize liability lawsuits as frivolous, including malpractice cases. Yet a fairly recent Harvard School of Public Health study examined nearly 1,500 medical malpractice case files from five different insurance companies paying claims across the country.
That study found that nearly all the cases involved treatment-related injury. The vast majority of cases involved severe physical injuries, one-quarter of those cases leading to the patient’s death. The reviewers found treatment errors in more than two-thirds of the cases. They also found that cases presenting no clear errors generally received no compensation.
In short, the medical malpractice system works, paying the genuine claims involving serious injury or death. Duluth medical malpractice lawyer Charles Scholle and the expert personal injury team at Scholle Law stand ready to investigate your medical malpractice claim and represent you in court as necessary, notwithstanding misguided public criticism.
What’s the difference between a bad result and malpractice?
Adverse medical events are common. Surgeries are risky. Illness, injury, disease, and other chronic and acute medical conditions are already hazardous to health. Medical professionals want medical treatment to cure and heal, not to injure. But medical treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, drug regimens, and surgeries carry their well-known risks.
The Hippocratic Oath may be to first do no harm. Yet physicians and other medical professionals do harm sometimes, even with the best skills and intentions.
Harm alone, or a simple bad result, is not medical malpractice. Also, when a patient suffers injury or death because of an unfortunate, but known, risk of a procedure or treatment, that too is not malpractice. The medical professional is not a guarantor of a patient’s health and safety. Medical malpractice involves departing from customary care, meaning those practices that the medical profession accepts as appropriate for treating the patient. When a medical professional does what the professional should do, but the patient suffers an injury or bad result, the professional has not committed malpractice.
The medical professional must do what they should not do, or not do what they should do, to commit malpractice.
How does an injured patient prove malpractice?
The key to proving that a medical professional departed from the customary care is to have a qualified medical professional in the same clinical specialty testify to the departure.
Professionals perform within a specialized body of knowledge. To prove a departure from that accepted practice takes retaining a qualified professional. Indeed, Georgia Code §9-11-9.1 requires that the injured patient filing a medical malpractice complaint in court must include an affidavit from a qualified medical professional attesting that the defendant committed malpractice.
One of the first things the medical malpractice team at Scholle Law does to evaluate and prove a medical malpractice claim is get the client’s medical records to a qualified medical expert for review. Without qualified experts to testify to the departure and how that departure caused the patient’s injury, the patient has no claim.
You can trust Charles Scholle’s team to identify qualified medical experts to evaluate and prove your claim.
What if my doctor didn’t tell me of treatment risks?
Georgia law, like the medical malpractice laws of other states, recognizes claims for lack of informed consent. If a physician or other care provider fails to tell the patient of a common treatment risk, and the patient suffers that risk, the patient may recover for that injury if able to show that the patient would not have had the treatment if aware of the risk.
Informed consent claims can be difficult to prove, but Georgia law recognizes them. Charles Scholle of Scholle Law has decades of experience representing clients whom medical malpractice seriously injured, including claims for lack of informed consent.
Retain a Premier Duluth Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Medical malpractice litigation is not for the novice attorney. Proving medical malpractice requires a refined knowledge of special liability laws, a network of medical experts, and the resources to retain them.
Georgia medical malpractice lawyer Charles Scholle has the expert knowledge, professional network and standing, substantial resources, and impressive record of results to investigate, evaluate, and pursue your medical malpractice claim. To get the best results, retain the best available lawyer.
Trust personal injury lawyer Charles Scholle at Scholle Law. Call now at (866) 582-1302 or go online.