Commonly Asked Questions About Medical Malpractice
We may think we know all about lawsuits against hospitals, nursing homes or other providers but how much do we really know? Here are some frequently asked questions about medical malpractice.
Q: What is a medical malpractice claim?
A: A medical malpractice claim is a lawsuit that alleges negligence committed by a health care provider. It could be a range of providers including a doctor, a technician, a nurse, therapist, a dentist or another hospital worker. The treatment of a patient must have deviated from the standard of care met by workers with similar training and background, leading to harm to the patient.
Medical malpractice can include a professional involved in the diagnosis, treatment, or any aspect of care of a patient. In many cases a hospital as well as an individual will be held liable for a mistake.
Q: Does a patient who is unhappy with the results of surgery have a realistic medical malpractice claim?
A: Notwithstanding patient expectations, there are no guarantees of results in surgery. If you don’t like the results of your plastic surgery, for example, you don’t have valid grounds for a medical malpractice claim. To be successful in a medical malpractice case, the patient has to prove damages or injuries that resulted from the doctor’s departure from the standard of care applicable to the procedure.
Q: What is “informed consent”?
A: Although the exact definition of what informed consent varies from state to state, it generally means the medical provider in question has a duty to tell a patient about all the potential dangers, benefits and viable alternatives in any medical procedure, operation or course of treatment. The medical provider must obtain the patient’s written consent to proceed.
Q: What is the first thing to do if you feel you have been harmed?
A: Medical malpractice cases involve complex decisions and considerations from the outset. It’s hard to take on the hospital on your own and you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. In Virginia you are not allowed to even file a lawsuit without a lawyer certifying that a qualified expert is prepared to testify about the medical negligence of the at-fault doctor.
Q: How Common is Medical Malpractice
It’s a lot more common than you probably think. Recently I highlighted a study that found as many as 400,000 patients a year die in the United States due to medical malpractice.
You also have to consider the thousands of malpractice deaths outside hospitals. However, only a small percentage of malpractice victims or their survivors ever make a claim or file a lawsuit for the injuries or for a fatality.
Q: How Long Do You Have to Bring a Case?
In Virginia you have just two years to bring a medical malpractice claim but there is a safeguard for complications that are discovered at a later date, allowing the patient up to 10 years.
If you have further questions about medical malpractice, please contact us today to schedule a consultation with John Cooper or Bill O’Mara. Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers has offices in Norfolk and client meeting locations across Hampton Roads. If your injuries have made travel difficult, we can come to you in your home. Call us at 757.455.0077.