When it comes to our health and wellbeing it can be challenging to put that balance in the hands of someone else, but there are times where medical attention is necessary. Patients expect to receive the care they need to recover from their malady and get their lives back in order. Sometimes, however, negligent health care professionals can worsen conditions with their actions or inactions. If you’ve been a victim of this type of mistake, our Jackson medical malpractice lawyers are prepared to represent you.
While difficult to determine, Johns Hopkins released a study in 2016 stating medical malpractice as the third-leading cause of premature death in the United States. The reason this figure is difficult to determine is because the instances often go unreported because patients are unaware as to why they’ve suffered, and doctors aren’t willing to risk their medical reputations. At Pittman, Roberts & Welsh, PLLC, we firmly believe those negligent care providers should be held accountable for their errors.
Defining Medical Malpractice
Compared to other areas of personal injury law, medical malpractice lawsuits can be fairly complex. To know if you have the grounds for a claim, it’s important to understand what medical malpractice is and how it is defined.
Medical professionals are required to provide patients with a certain standard of care. This standard is recognized by professionals in the medical field as being acceptable treatment by prudent healthcare professionals. A patient has the right to expect that their doctors and nurses will deliver care that is consistent with the agreed upon standards.
When a doctor or other care provider breaches the standard and a patient is harmed as a result, medical malpractice can be proven. Compensation may be available for victims if it can be shown that the injury would not have occurred if the healthcare provider had not acted negligently. The following are a few of the most prevalent medical errors that occur in the United States:
- Delayed Diagnosis
- Failure to Diagnose
- Surgical Errors
- Birth Injuries
- Medication Mistakes
- Anesthesia Errors
The reason med mal cases are so complex is because they often require significant investigation and the testimony of other medical experts. The injury also has to be significant enough to have resulted in disability, loss of income, suffering or hardship, or significant past and future medical bills.
If you believe that you or a family member may have been a victim of negligence that resulted in serious injury, our attorneys are prepared to investigate your claim and work towards getting you the compensation you need to recover.
Reasons Why Medical Professionals Make Negligent Mistakes
There is never an excuse for instances of medical malpractice; however, there are a few common causes that should be discussed. Suffering from the consequences of medical negligence can be traumatic, which is why it’s important to understand why these mistakes are made. This understanding can help you and your attorney build a strong case.
- Inadequate Training. If a healthcare provider isn’t ready to perform a treatment, procedure, or surgery because they don’t have the knowledge or experience, they may be pressured to complete it anyway. Patients are put at risk when this happens.
- Failed Communication. A number of medical staff works on any one patient. Doctors, nurses, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and pharmacists all need to actively communicate with each other to ensure patients are receiving what they need, when they need it. When communication fails, patients can get mixed up or receive the wrong medication. There are even instances where patients are discharged early.
- Fatigue. It’s no secret that medical professionals often work long hours. Those individuals, however, need to be able to make skilled judgment calls at all times. When a doctor is extremely fatigued, they’re most likely to make mistakes.
- Lack of Organization. Hospitals treat hundreds of patients a day, which is why organization is crucial. When vital information isn’t collected properly or isn’t passed around like it needs to be, a patient could suffer.
- Improper Procedure. For every medical event, there is a procedure that needs to be followed to ensure a patient receives the care they need. When corners are cut, like if surgical tools aren’t sterilized properly, there are likely to be consequences.
Understanding How Med Mal Case Are Handled in Mississippi
Every state has their own laws regarding how instances of medical malpractice are handled. Mississippi is no exception. If you’re planning on filing a claim as a resident of the state, it’s important to understand the key laws. We’ll break them down below.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations defines the amount of time a person has to file a claim after an event or loss has occurred. According to Mississippi Code Annotated, section 15-1-34, injured patients must file a claim within two years of the date the doctor or healthcare provider committed the negligence that resulted in injury. In some cases, the time may be extended depending on when the correlation was discovered.
There is also a longer deadline for med mal lawsuits. It says that a claim cannot be filed more than seven years after the alleged act occurred. This is known as a statute of repose and it means that once seven years has passed, a patient cannot file even if they’ve had a reasonable opportunity to discover they had been harmed. There are two exceptions to the statute of repose: if a foreign object was left inside a patient or if the malpractice was concealed through fraud.
If the statute of limitations is not met, it is likely the case will be thrown out without review.
Certificate of Consultation
All med mal lawsuits have to be accompanied by a certificate by the patient’s attorneys that swears the following under oath:
- The attorney has reviewed the case in consultation with at least one qualified expert to determine what standard of care should have been provided
- The lawyer believes the expert is reliable
- The attorney believes there are grounds for a lawsuit based on the expert’s consultation
This requirement is spelled out in section 11-1-58 of Mississippi Code Annotated. A failure to provide the certificate could result in dismissal.
When eligible for compensation, a med mal victim may receive economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include medical expenses, lost wages, the cost of future care, and any other financial losses that can be tied to the injury. Noneconomic damages are meant to compensate the victim for negative effects like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and scarring or disfigurement.
In Mississippi, noneconomic damages are capped at $500,000. For more information on your potential case and what you may be eligible for, discuss your situation with one of our experienced medical malpractice lawyers.
Put Your Trust in a Jackson Medical Malpractice Attorney
We understand how traumatic it can be to be injured by a healthcare professional. While recovering physically and emotionally, it’s often difficult to think about taking legal action. Our med mal lawyers in Jackson are here to ease that burden for you. If you’re ready to hold the negligent doctor or hospital accountable for what you’ve been through, we will work with you to get the compensation you deserve. To learn more about your legal rights and options or to file a claim, contact our office today.