While no one expects doctors to be perfect, patients do expect to receive competent care which complies with federal laws and safety regulations. When a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare worker fails to meet normal professional standards, and a patient suffers preventable harm or is killed as a result, the doctor may be held liable for the resulting losses and hardships inflicted on the victim and their surviving family members.
If you or your loved one’s doctor failed to diagnose cancer, made a surgical error, or made other mistakes when diagnosing or treating your illness or injury, you may be a victim of medical malpractice, and could have a right to compensation. Call attorney Jay Sheen at (801) 618-3580 for a free and confidential legal consultation regarding the options that may be available to you and your loved ones. Jay has over 33 years of experience taking on challenging malpractice claims involving major hospitals and insurers in the Salt Lake City area.
What is Medical Malpractice? Do I Have a Case?
Medical malpractice is a complex and often misunderstood area of personal injury law. For this reason, it is always important to consult with an experienced malpractice attorney, even if you don’t think you have a case. Only after a careful review of the details specific to your situation can an attorney determine whether you have a cause of action, or grounds for filing a lawsuit. With that in mind, the following information should help give you a clearer idea of what goes into a malpractice case.
First, it’s important to emphasize that malpractice extends far beyond general practitioners (GPs) and family doctors. All different types of medical professionals can be held liable for preventable patient death or injury, including nurses, anesthesiologists, surgeons, dentists, and various other specialists.
Second, one must have a general understanding of the elements that go into a malpractice claim. These elements are that:
- A patient-doctor relationship existed, creating a duty of care. Taking casual advice from a friend who happens to be a doctor does not create a patient-doctor relationship.
- The doctor breached his or her duty of care. This means the doctor negligently failed to take appropriate actions to minimize the risk of a preventable, avoidable patient death or injury. Some examples of doctor negligence are provided in the next section.
- The improper or inadequate treatment occurred because of the doctor’s actions, or failures to act. This element is known as “causation.”
- The patient suffered harm. This element is known as “damages.” Damages can be physical, financial, and/or emotional.
If the malpractice victim can prove these elements, he or she may receive compensation for past and anticipated medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, funeral costs, loss of a marital relationship, and other damages. In 2015, the Utah Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the state’s former cap on noneconomic damages — non-financial losses, such as pain and suffering — in malpractice cases involving wrongful death.
Examples of Doctor Negligence and Frequently Misdiagnosed Conditions
In many cases, breach of duty involves a missed diagnosis or the misdiagnosis of a condition that would have been detected by a similarly experienced doctor working under similar conditions. Some common examples of frequently misdiagnosed diseases and disorders include:
- Breast Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Colon Cancer
- Skin Cancer
- Oral Cancer
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Cervical Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Lyme Disease
- Celiac Disease
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
However, as the previous section noted, there are many different ways a doctor can breach his or her professional duty of care. Making a diagnostic error, while common, is not the only way a doctor can be negligent. Other examples of actions that could constitute malpractice include:
- Administering medication to the wrong patient.
- Failing to properly sterilize a needle or other equipment.
- Failing to adequately monitor a patient under sedation or anesthesia.
- Failing to perform a procedure when needed, such as delaying a C-section for non-medical reasons.
- Performing an unnecessary procedure, such as the unnecessary removal of an organ.
- Failing to follow up as necessary.
- Failing to check a patient’s medical history for potential risks, complications, and dangerous drug interactions.
- Prescribing medication in excessive quantities.
- Practicing medicine without the proper license.
- Leaving an object inside of a patient after surgery, which is called unintended retention of foreign objects (URFO).
- Performing surgery on the wrong area of the body, which is called wrong-site surgery (WSS).
- Sexually assaulting a sedated patient.
Are You a Victim of Medical Malpractice? Let Our Utah Medical Malpractice Lawyers Fight for You
If you or one of your loved ones suffered a misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or other medical complications due to a careless doctor’s mistake, you deserve answers and accountability. To set up a free and confidential legal consultation, call Salt Lake malpractice lawyer Jay Sheen at (801) 618-3580. Jay handles cases throughout the Salt Lake City area, including West Valley City, West Jordan, Sandy, Draper, Bountiful, and more.