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WHAT IS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?

Posted by Cesar Cobo | Jul 09, 2024 | 0 Comments

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional deviates from the standard of care, resulting in harm to a patient.

This can involve errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare, or health management.

Understanding what constitutes medical malpractice is crucial for patients to recognize potential instances of negligence and seek appropriate legal recourse.

In Maryland, specific laws and statutes guide how medical malpractice cases are handled, ensuring that patients have a pathway to pursue justice and compensation for any harm suffered due to medical errors.

Common Forms of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice encompasses a variety of errors and instances of medical negligence made by healthcare professionals that result in harm to patients.

Understanding the different types of malpractice is essential for recognizing potential negligence and seeking appropriate legal recourse. Here are the primary types of medical malpractice:

Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis

Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis occurs when a healthcare provider incorrectly diagnoses a patient or fails to diagnose a condition in a timely manner, which may be litigated under Maryland health laws.

This can lead to improper treatment, delayed treatment, or no treatment at all, causing harm to the patient. Examples include diagnosing a patient with a common infection instead of cancer or failing to recognize the signs of a heart attack.

Surgical Errors

Surgical errors are mistakes that occur during surgery. These can range from operating on the wrong site or leaving surgical instruments inside the body to causing unintended damage to organs.

The consequences of surgical errors can be severe, including infections, prolonged recovery times, and additional surgeries.

Medication Errors

Medication errors involve mistakes in prescribing, dispensing, or administering medication.

Common medication mistakes include incorrect dosage, prescribing the wrong medication, or failing to check for drug interactions. These errors can result in adverse reactions, worsening of the condition, or even death.

Birth Injuries

Birth injuries refer to harm caused to a newborn during the delivery process. Types of injuries include cerebral palsy, brachial plexus injuries, and fractures. Long-term impacts can range from physical disabilities to developmental delays, affecting the child's quality of life.

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia errors occur when there are mistakes in administering anesthesia, leading to complications during surgery.

Risks and potential outcomes include administering too much or too little anesthesia, failing to monitor the patient properly, or allergic reactions. These errors can cause brain damage, awareness during surgery, or even death.

Legal Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim in Maryland

Understanding the legal elements of a claim is crucial for patients seeking justice. Here are the key components involved:

Duty of Care

In a Maryland medical malpractice case, the first element is establishing the duty of care. This means demonstrating that a physician or healthcare provider had a responsibility to provide competent and appropriate care to the patient, based on what a reasonably skilled healthcare professional would do under similar circumstances.

Breach of Duty

A breach of duty occurs when the healthcare provider fails to meet the established standard of care, potentially contributing to wrongful death or personal injury.

This can happen through actions or omissions that deviate from what is expected in the medical community, such as surgical errors, misdiagnosis, or improper treatment.

Causation

Causation connects the breach of duty directly to the injury suffered by the patient. It must be shown that the healthcare provider's negligence directly caused harm. This often requires detailed medical records and expert testimony to prove the link between the provider's actions and the patient's injuries.

Damages

Compensation refers to the amount patients can claim in a medical malpractice lawsuit under the statute.

In Maryland malpractice cases, this compensation can include economic losses like medical bills and lost wages, as well as non-economic losses like pain and suffering.

A medical malpractice lawyer can help assess and quantify these damages to ensure fair compensation.

Filing a Legal Malpractice Claim

Filing a medical malpractice claim involves several steps, including gathering evidence, consulting with a medical malpractice lawyer, and submitting the claim within the statute of limitations in the state of maryland.

As an experienced Maryland malpractice attorney, I can guide patients through this process to improve their chances of a successful outcome.

Maryland's Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice

Understanding the statute of limitations is crucial for anyone considering a medical malpractice claim in Maryland. Here are the key points:

General Timeframe for Filing a Claim

In Maryland, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims generally requires that you file a medical lawsuit within five years from the date the injury occurred or three years from the date the injury was discovered, whichever comes first.

Special Considerations for Minors and Incapacitated Individuals

For minors, the statute of limitations is extended. A minor has until their 21st birthday to file a medical malpractice claim. Similarly, incapacitated individuals may have additional time to file a claim depending on the nature and duration of their incapacity.

Steps to Take if You Suspect Medical Malpractice 

If you suspect that you have been a victim of medical malpractice in Maryland, take the following steps to protect your rights:

Gather Medical Records

Start by collecting all relevant medical records, including test results, treatment plans, and communication with healthcare providers. These documents are crucial for assessing the details of your case and determining if you can bring a lawsuit.

Seek a Second Opinion

Consult another medical professional to get an independent assessment of your condition and the care you received. A second opinion can help confirm whether malpractice occurred and provide additional evidence.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Reach out to an experienced Maryland malpractice attorney. They can evaluate your case, guide you through the legal process, and help you file a health care malpractice claim.

Proving Medical Malpractice in Maryland

Proving medical malpractice requires a strong foundation of evidence and expert testimony to establish negligence and its impact on the plaintiff.

Importance of Expert Witnesses

Expert witnesses play a crucial role in medical malpractice cases. They provide professional opinions on whether the standard of care was breached and how it directly caused the patient's injuries. Their testimony helps establish the connection between the healthcare provider's negligence and the harm suffered by the patient.

Role of Medical Records and Documentation

Medical records and documentation are vital in proving a medical malpractice claim. They offer detailed evidence of the patient's medical history, treatments received, and any deviations from the standard of care by the health care provider.

These documents help build a strong case by corroborating the testimony of expert witnesses and highlighting inconsistencies in the care provided by the health care provider.

Compensation in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

Economic vs. Non-Economic 

In Maryland medical malpractice cases, patients can claim both economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages: They cover tangible financial losses, such as medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and future medical expenses. These are quantifiable costs that directly impact the patient's financial situation.

Non-economic damages: Compensation for intangible losses like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Damage Caps in Maryland for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Maryland has caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. These caps limit the amount a patient can receive for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses. The cap amount is adjusted annually for inflation under Maryland law, and it's essential to consult a medical malpractice lawyer to understand how these caps might affect your specific case.

Contact an Expert Medical Malpractice Attorney in Maryland

Thinking of filing a medical malpractice suit? I am a qualified Maryland medical malpractice lawyer and can take your medical malpractice case.

At Frank Spector Law, LLC, I handle challenging medical malpractice cases in Maryland. With decades of experience, I am dedicated to achieving justice for victims of medical negligence.

If you are a victim of a medical professional's negligence, contact me at 443 -845-1456 to schedule a free consultation. In the meantime, explore my website to learn more about my services and how I can assist you.

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