Understanding Medical Malpractice

Apr 25, 2016

Tens of thousands of Americans suffer preventable illnesses, injuries, and deaths each year because health care providers make errors or fail to take all the actions necessary to protect patients. Despite its prevalence, and the terrible toll it takes, medical malpractice is poorly understood. To clarify the problem and its legal remedies, the Columbus, Ohio, medical malpractice lawyers with Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman have put together this brief medical malpractice FAQ.

What constitutes medical malpractice?

Health care practitioners and organizations that fail to provide and observe the most widely recognized standard of care can be held liable for committing medical practice. What that means in less-legalistic language is that a patient or a family cannot sue a physician simply because a health problem did not get resolved. Rather, evidence of negligence or recklessness must exist.

Why does medical malpractice happen?

Establishing negligence or recklessness often requires taking an allegation of medical malpractice to a jury trial in civil court. Working closely with a Columbus medical malpractice attorney can help a plaintiff show that procedures and policies to protect the patient were not in place, poorly communicated, or unenforced—each of which would show negligence. Other forms of negligence that can prompt a finding of medical malpractice include insufficient training, lack of supervision, inadequate staffing, and sloppy record-keeping.

Reckless actions that can constitute medical malpractice include practicing without a license, treating patients while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and using illegal equipment, medications, or treatment methods.

What are some common types of medical malpractice?

Again, medical malpractice can be an error or an intentional act. A short list of examples includes

  • Administering medications incorrectly
  • Administering anesthesia and/or sedation incorrectly
  • Abusing a patient emotionally, mentally, or physically
  • Causing a birth injury such as a physical disability or cerebral palsy
  • Exposing a patient to a hospital-acquired infection
  • Injuring a patient by performing a surgery incorrectly
  • Leaving a surgical implement inside a patient’s body
  • Misdiagnosing a life-threatening condition
  • Neglecting a patient, especially a bedbound nursing home resident
  • Operating on the wrong body part or organ
  • Operating on the wrong patient
  • Prescribing and dispensing medications that will harm the patient

Who can commit medical malpractice?

Depending on the nature and cause of the medical malpractice, both health care providers and their employers can be held liable. For instance, a hospital that failed to check a reckless surgeon’s education, license, and behavior on the job could be named as a co-defendant in a lawsuit against the surgeon.

Health care providers who can commit malpractice include

  • Dentists
  • Doctors and physicians
  • Nurses
  • Nurse aides
  • Pharmacists
  • Pharmacy technicians
  • Physician assistants
  • Surgeons

Organizations that can be found liable for medical malpractice include

  • Clinics
  • Group medical practices
  • Hospitals
  • Pharmacies
  • Staffing agencies

Note that drug makers are subject to product liability and consumer protection laws, but not medical malpractice.

Is there a statute of limitation on medical malpractice claims in Ohio?

Laws in Ohio generally require victims of medical malpractice to file a claim within one year of the date on which the harm occurred or the date on which the victim learned that an act of negligence or recklessness caused them harm. Slightly different rules apply when a victim was intentionally misled by a potential defendant or when the person harmed by medical malpractice was a child at the time.

The day on which the statute of limitations clock starts ticking can be disputed by both a plaintiff and a defendant, so consulting with a Columbus malpractice attorney can be essential to proceeding with a claim.

How much can I recover in financial damages if I win my medical malpractice case?

Every case differs, and no outcomes are guaranteed. The damages sought will depend on the actual expenses inflicted by the medical malpractice, as well the amount of pain and suffering endured by the victim and whether recklessness is to blame. The actual costs, referred to as economic damages, represent money paid for care to treat the problem and any ongoing expenses like therapy, disability, and home health care.

Ohio law caps non-economic damages (i.e., pain and suffering) in medical malpractice cases at $250,000 unless special circumstances are found to apply.

Reckless health care providers and organizations can be ordered to pay punitive damages in addition to economic and non-economic damages. The noncriminal fines are assessed in part to discourage others from acting in ways similar to the defendant.

Can Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman help me with my Columbus, Ohio, medical malpractice case?

Call us at (800) 678-3318 or share your story online. We offer free consultations to all potential clients.

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Worker’s Comp Lawyers Columbus, Ohio - Agee Clymer

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Columbus, OH 43215