Tenacious Medical Malpractice Attorneys Fighting For Injured Patients
When people get medications, go in for surgery or have tests done to diagnose their health conditions, patients place their trust and their lives in the hands of their doctors. Unfortunately, physicians make medication errors, surgical mistakes and diagnostic errors that cause serious harm. According to the Journal of Patient Safety, medical negligence claims the lives of approximately 440,000 people every year. Preventable hospital errors also cause countless others to suffer serious injuries. As a result, innocent people are suffering devastating injuries, disabilities, and preventable death at the hands of negligent surgeons, nurses, pharmacists and anesthesiologists.
Most medical professionals attempt to ignore errors they cause instead of admitting fault. As a result, victims of medical negligence are often left to fight uphill battles. If you or a loved one was harmed, Shevlin Smith, P.C., will help you level the playing field and fight for the compensation you need and deserve. With over 70 years of combined experience, our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of injury victims and their families. We also offer free initial consultations so that you can explore your legal options without cost or obligation.
Who Is To Blame When Medical Malpractice Occurs?
Several parties may be considered liable in any given case, including:
- Negligent doctors: Although most physicians are skilled at what they do, some make errors that can cause serious harm to people’s lives. When doctors are negligent, they can cause surgical mistakes, errors in diagnoses, medication dosing errors or prescribe the wrong medications to patients.
- Negligent anesthesiologists: When patients are under anesthesia during surgery, anesthesiologists are supposed to monitor patients’ blood pressure, heart rhythm, oxygen in the blood and more. Unfortunately, too little anesthesia, too much anesthesia, or the wrong type of anesthesia can cause patients to suffer complications, injuries or heart attacks.
- Negligent nurses: When patients need medications, nurses are often the ones who perform this duty. When nurses administer the wrong drug or wrong dose, patients can suffer serious injuries or death. Nurses have also injured patients with medical equipment or not taking immediate action when necessary.
- Negligent pharmacists: Pharmacy negligence can include mixing up patients’ prescriptions, filling the wrong prescription, filling the wrong dose or attaching the wrong label to a medication bottle. When these mistakes occur, patients can suffer serious injuries and even death.
Whether a doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist, or pharmacist commits a wrongful act or doesn’t follow the appropriate standard of care and a patient suffers harm, that medical professional and/or the hospital or clinic they work for needs to be held accountable.
Consequences Of Medical Malpractice
When medical professionals are negligent, consequences for patients can include:
- Brain and head injuries: When doctors make errors during surgery or during labor and delivery, a patient may suffer lack of oxygen to the brain, resulting in anoxic and hypoxic brain injuries. These types of brain injuries can leave victims with memory loss, speech problems, coordination issues, paralysis and other adverse health effects.
- Neonatal injuries: When a doctor fails to manage a woman’s labor and delivery properly, he or she could fail to respond to fetal distress, misuse forceps or delay a C-section. Any of these errors can lead to birth injuries and even death of the mother or baby. Some common and tragic birth injuries include cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, paralysis and brain injuries.
- Disabling injuries: When surgeons remove the wrong organs, operate on the wrong limbs, or cause damage to internal areas of the body during surgery, patients may sustain organ damage, unnecessary amputations or other permanent disabling injuries.
- Preventable death: When physicians make diagnosing errors, medication mishaps, labor and delivery mistakes, or surgical errors, innocent patients can suffer fatal injuries as a result of medical negligence.
It is often difficult to prove that a negative outcome was due to malpractice. Our attorneys have decades of experience in this area, and we have become a trusted resource for patients and their families.
When Are Hospitals Liable For Malpractice?
Hospitals can be held responsible for cases of malpractice when their employees are careless or negligent, or intentionally harm a patient. The hospital may be as liable as the employee who made the mistake.
The first way in which a hospital can be held liable for malpractice is when its employees behave negligently. Situations like these can include technicians misreading lab results, doctors misdiagnosing health conditions, nurses giving patients wrong medications or incorrect dosages, surgeons operating on the wrong body parts and various other mistakes made by the hospital’s employees.
It is important to note that some medical professionals are independent contractors, which means they are not direct employees of the hospital. In cases such as these, a medical malpractice lawsuit can be brought against the contractor and not the hospital. However, there are cases in which a court will review the employment arrangement between the hospital and the medical contractor and determine if that contractor was actually paid and treated like an employee. These situations are complicated, so it is best to speak with a lawyer directly about your case.
The second way in which a hospital could be held liable for malpractice is due to direct hospital negligence. Some examples of this can include negligence in hiring employees, failure to supervise employees, failure to fire unsafe employees, failure to keep up with an employee’s licensing requirements and continuing education, failure to adopt proper safety protocols, failure to staff the hospital adequately, and losing or mixing up patient records. Even old and broken down equipment that contributed to patient harm could be considered hospital liability since hospitals are supposed to routinely check and repair their equipment.
Medical Malpractice Can Take Many Forms
Below are some of the most common types of medical malpractice our attorneys helped clients with:
- Misdiagnosis: Physicians are supposed to properly diagnose and treat health conditions in patients; however, sometimes doctors fail to diagnose conditions or diagnose conditions incorrectly. When any type of misdiagnosis occurs that causes a patient harm, it is grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Delay in diagnosis: When a doctor doesn’t diagnose a health condition for several months and treatment is delayed because of that, a patient may suffer adverse effects of such a delay – even death.
- Surgical errors: Physicians have been known to operate on wrong body parts or limbs, leave instruments inside patients after surgery or commit other serious surgery errors that result in catastrophic injuries and may necessitate additional surgeries.
- Emergency room errors: Due to the chaotic nature of emergency rooms, mistakes do occur. Some of the most common errors in the ER include failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis, medication mistakes, failure to order appropriate tests and misinterpreting test results.
- Anesthesia errors: Anesthesiologists are supposed to monitor patients placed in an unconscious or semiconscious state. When anesthesiologists make mistakes with administering anesthesia or fail to monitor patients during surgery, harm can occur to patients.
- Medication errors in hospitals: Many patients require medication during their hospital visit or stay. Unfortunately, health care professionals sometimes administer the wrong medication or the wrong dose of medicine. They can even fail to restart drugs like anticoagulants after surgery, which may be medical malpractice in Virginia.
- Pharmacy prescription errors: People with health conditions rely on their medications for treatment. When pharmacists mix up patients’ prescriptions or fill prescriptions with the wrong medication or wrong dose, people can suffer the adverse effects.
When you hire our firm, we will immediately begin a thorough investigation of your claim to determine what happened and who was at fault. We understand the amount of research and preparation necessary for a successful medical malpractice claim, and we are ready for whatever your case requires.
Answers To Frequently Asked Questions
Below, we’ve answered some common questions prospective clients ask about medical conditions sometimes attributed to physician negligence.
What causes cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy is usually developed early in life – as early as during pregnancy or later, or a few years after birth. Most cases, about 85% to 95%, occur in utero. Sometimes the specific cause is not known. All cases are due to either abnormal development of the brain or damage to a developing brain. It was once believed that a lack of oxygen to the baby during birth was the most common cause, but now, it is believed to be mostly due to other causes. There are risk factors to developing cerebral palsy, including low birth weight, premature birth, multiple birth, and birth complications.
How is Erb’s Palsy Treated?
Early treatment is essential for Erb’s palsy to resolve. Current research suggests there is an almost complete chance of a full recovery if treatment begins within the first month after birth. The main method is daily physical therapy. Nerves will usually repair on their own with early, daily physical activity; however, there are instances where a doctor may recommend surgery.
What To Do When Injured By A Medical Mistake
Because traumatic injuries caused by medical negligence are shocking and horrifying for victims to come to grips with, it is often overwhelming for them to know what steps to take or to think about pursuing a legal claim. We recommend the following:
- Gather evidence by requesting your medical records. It is crucial that patients request their medical records as soon as possible. Medical records can be the crux of the case when they are given to a medical expert who will help your attorney strengthen your case. Because some medical providers might delay or deny your request for records, it is essential to have an attorney on your side to help you get your medical records.
- Know how long you have to file a medical malpractice claim. Every state has different laws known as “statutes of limitation.” In Virginia, injured victims have two years from the date of injury to bring a medical malpractice claim against the negligent medical professional.
- Confirm you have a valid case by getting a certificate of merit. In a medical malpractice case in Virginia, a qualified medical expert needs to review your medical records to determine if a doctor or medical professional breached the standard of care. If the expert agrees that the breach in the standard of care caused your personal injury, you will receive a certificate of merit. Once you have this written opinion signed by the expert witness, you can bring a lawsuit against the wrongdoer.
Finally, you should talk with a lawyer experienced in medical malpractice cases. Because medical malpractice cases are complex, it is important you have someone who is knowledgeable in medical malpractice laws. Also, experienced lawyers can walk you through the process and help you get the compensation you need and deserve.
Share Your Story With Us In A Free Consultation
If you have suffered injuries in the course of receiving medical care and treatment, you have the right to hold the negligent medical professional responsible. Additionally, if the negligence occurred at Inova Fairfax Hospital or another hospital, the hospital itself can be liable for the medical malpractice. Our compassionate medical malpractice lawyers have extensive experience representing victims of medical malpractice throughout Virginia and Washington, D.C., and we would be honored to help you make your voice heard and help you collect the damages you are due.