Medical negligence sadly and shockingly claims the lives of approximately 440,000 people every year, according to the Journal of Patient Safety. For years, the government estimated that about 98,000 people were dying annually due to medical errors. While we now know that information is inaccurate, just one death due to medical negligence is one death too many. In addition to heart-wrenching fatalities, preventable hospital errors cause countless others to suffer serious injuries. As a result, innocent people are suffering catastrophic injuries, disabilities, and death at the hands of negligent surgeons, nurses, pharmacists, and anesthesiologists.
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 harm thousands of patients every year.
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. We have put together this extensive list of information to educate, empower, and help you during this traumatic time in your life.
Causes of Medical Malpractice in Virginia
- 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 an anesthetic 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. Unfortunately, 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.
Types of Medical Malpractice that Occur
- 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 and leave instruments inside patients after surgery—causing serious harm and 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 semi-unconscious state. When anesthesiologists makes 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, healthcare 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.
Whether a doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist, or pharmacist commits an act that is wrong or doesn’t follow the appropriate standard of care and a patient suffers harm, the medical professional needs to be held accountable for wrongful actions when injuries or deaths are involved.
Consequences Medical Malpractice in Virginia
When errors occur as a result of a medical professional’s negligence, patients, sadly, suffer serious injuries including:
- Brain 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.
- Birth 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.
- Wrongful 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.
What to Do When Injured by a Medical Mistake in Northern Virginia
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. Because our attorneys understand this and know that victims and their families need somewhere they can go to get information they can trust, 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 standard of care caused your 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.
- 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.
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 Virginia and DC medical malpractice attorneys have extensive experience representing victims of medical malpractice, and we would be honored to help you make your voice heard and help you collect the damages you are due, such as compensation for medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and more. To learn more about your rights under Virginia’s medical malpractice laws, please call our law firm for a free consultation at (703) 591-0067 or fill out the “Get Help Now” form on our website.