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What Types of Medical Malpractice Accidents Can Lead to a Lawsuit?

What Types of Medical Malpractice Accidents Can Lead to a Lawsuit?

If a misstep by a doctor, nurse, or health care facility has left you with a worsened illness or injury (or an entirely new condition), you may need to contact a Dallas medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your rights.

Doctors and health care professionals generally strive to provide the best possible treatment to their patients. However, mistakes happen in every profession; when they occur in the context of medical treatment, the consequences can be severe. Financial compensation won’t restore your previous state of health, but it’s likely the only means you have of seeking justice and getting your life back on track.

This post will explore the different types of medical malpractice accidents, how they happen, and the legal remedies that may be available in the event of a successful lawsuit.

What Types of Medical Malpractice Accidents Can Lead to a Lawsuit?

Crain Brogdon’s Dallas medical malpractice attorneys deal with a wide range of medical malpractice cases:

Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis (or the failure to correctly diagnose a condition in a timely fashion) can lead to incorrect treatment or a complete lack of treatment. For patients with conditions for which early intervention is important, this is a highly damaging situation.

A recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine estimated that 795,000 U.S. residents suffer death or permanent disability due to diagnostic errors every year.

Surgical Errors

Errors during surgery can lead to severe physical damage and long-term health issues. Our attorneys have dealt with cases in which surgeons . . .

  • Mistakenly operated on the wrong part of a patient’s body, such as working on the right kidney when they were supposed to work on the left
  • Left surgical tools or other items inside a patient after sewing their skin back together post-operation
  • Caused unnecessary or excessive damage to tissues or organs during procedures.

Medication Errors

Medication errors are relatively common in busy health care facilities. A study conducted by researchers at the University of California found that median medication error rates at hospitals and long-term care facilities were between 8% and 25%, and that median error rates involving intravenous medications (where doctors or nurses inject patients with medicine) were around 50%.

Factors contributing to medication errors might include miscommunication between health care providers, confusion over similar drug names, or a lack of information about a patient’s allergies or existing medications.

Birth Injuries

Medical negligence during childbirth can lead to both short-term and long-term injuries to both mother and child. Mistakes by doctors and midwives in this setting can include excessive force during delivery, failure to monitor the baby’s oxygen levels, and delayed cesarean sections.

Common birth injuries sustained by newborn children include bone fractures, nerve damage, and cerebral palsy.

Anesthesia Mistakes

The improper administration of anesthesia before surgical procedures or in other contexts can be extremely dangerous. Anesthetisia is generally administered by either an anesthesiologist (a doctor specializing in this area) or a nurse anesthetist.

Negligent omissions related to anesthesia might include giving an incorrect dosage, failing to monitor your vital signs, failing to recognize relevant allergies or preexisting conditions, or providing inadequate information about the risks involved. Anesthesia mistakes can cause complications such as brain damage, heart problems, stroke, spinal cord injuries, and death.

In rare cases, patients experience what is called anesthesia awareness; they remain fully aware of their surroundings while under general anesthetic. While most don’t feel any physical pain, this state can leave patients in a highly distressed state and cause lasting mental health difficulties, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Nursing Malpractice

While nurses do not assume the same level of responsibility for patient outcomes as medical doctors or surgeons, they have a significant role when it comes to administering medication, monitoring patient progress, and attending to patients’ basic needs. When nurses fail to properly execute these duties, the results for patients can be disastrous.

Often, nursing malpractice is contributed to by organizational problems, such as understaffing, lack of training, fatigue, or communication issues. In cases like these, the hospital will likely face liability rather than an individual nurse.

Hospital Infections

Hospital infections, also known as healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), are illnesses that patients acquire during the course of treatment for other conditions in a medical facility. These infections can occur in various parts of the hospital, from surgical rooms to patient wards.

Hospital infections can be particularly concerning as they typically affect individuals whose health is already compromised, leading to more severe illnesses or prolonged recovery. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 3% of hospital patients on any given day will have had at least one hospital infection.

How to Succeed in a Dallas Medical Negligence Lawsuit

To succeed in a medical negligence lawsuit, like most other types of personal injury cases, you must prove the four essential elements of negligence. We explain these in detail here.

Duty of Care

A recognized relationship between the plaintiff (you, the patient) and the defendant (the health care professional or facility that caused your injury) must exist, and this relationship must imply a duty of care. In the context of medical negligence, this means that health care providers are expected to act in a manner consistent with that of other reasonable professionals in their field under similar circumstances.

Breach of Duty

Once the duty of care is established, you must demonstrate that the health care provider breached this duty. As outlined above, a breach can be an error related to anything from diagnosis, to treatment, surgery, medication, or follow-up care. Expert testimony is often required to compare the defendant’s actions or omissions to generally accepted standards.

There are some factors that make courts more likely to rule that a breach of duty has occurred. For instance, if a doctor or nurse is drunk or under the influence of drugs at the time of an incident, this will make a finding of negligence much more likely.

Causation

Causation is the connection between the breach of duty and the harm suffered by the patient. You must be able to prove that the defendant’s negligent actions or omissions directly caused or significantly contributed to your condition.

This step is the undoing of many seemingly solid medical negligence claims. Even if a doctor or nurse clearly made an error while caring for you, you won’t be entitled to damages unless you can show that the error in question caused you harm. Because of the complexity of many medical conditions, this is often more challenging than you might expect.

Hiring a top-class Dallas medical malpractice attorney is the best way to ensure your case doesn’t come apart at this point in the process. You need a lawyer who is comfortable scouring medical records and working with the right expert witnesses to build a watertight case.

Damages

Finally, you must demonstrate that you suffered actual harm, whether it’s a physical injury, emotional distress, medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, or some other type of loss.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Texas?

Texas law generally allows a patient to file a lawsuit within two years of the date of the medical error that caused their illness or injury. This two-year time limit also applies to wrongful death cases; however, in these lawsuits, the clock starts to run on the day of the deceased person’s passing, rather than the date of the negligent act or omission.

Is there a cap on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits in Texas?

Texas law places a cap on non-economic damages (such as for pain and suffering) in medical malpractice lawsuits. The limit is $250,000 for doctors, nurses, and individual healthcare facilities. This extends to $500,000 for cases involving multiple health care facilities.

How does contributory negligence affect a medical malpractice claim in Texas?

In Texas, if you’re found to be partially responsible for your injury, your compensation entitlements may be reduced in proportion to your fault. If you’re found to be more than 50% at fault, you will generally be barred from recovering any damages. This might happen if, for example, you failed to tell your care team about a medical allergy you had and suffered an adverse reaction to treatment as a result.

Can I sue a pharmacist for medication errors in Texas?

Yes, pharmacists can be held liable for medication errors. Mistakes that might potentially give rise to liability include dispensing the wrong medication, directing you to take an incorrect dosage, or failing to identify potential drug interactions. A lawsuit against a pharmacist would typically require you to prove negligence in the same way as other medical malpractice claims.

Get the Help You Need Following Medical Malpractice

There are many different ways in which medical care can end up making you worse, rather than better. Mistakes will always happen; however, you shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s errors.

Contact Crain Brogdon today to schedule a free initial consultation about your case. You can reach us via the contact form on our website or over the phone at (214) 522-9404.

Quentin-Brogdon-Photo

Attorney Quentin Brogdon

Quentin Brogdon has over thirty years of experience and expertise in the field of personal injury trial law. He is board certified in both personal injury trial law and civil trial advocacy. Quentin has received an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest possible rating. This rating reflects an attorney’s ethics and abilities according to reviews from fellow attorneys. [ Attorney Bio ]

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