Mistakes made by doctors and healthcare providers can result in serious consequences for their patients. While some errors are inevitable for even the most experienced professionals, others are entirely preventable.
If your healthcare practitioner’s treatment of you falls below the standard expected of them and causes you harm or injury, you may have a valid medical malpractice claim. Unfortunately, recognizing medical malpractice can be extremely difficult, and even more challenging to prove in court.
In today’s post, NOVA Injury Law will be guiding Atlantic Canadians through the five of the most common medical malpractice claims and offer advice to those wondering if their injuries constitute a medical malpractice claim.
What is Medical Malpractice?
It is an unfortunately common experience when your doctor is unable to help you or a loved one. They may miss a diagnosis, not have the answers you are looking for, or make a range of mistakes. This can be extremely frustrating and burdensome for the patient, but it does not necessarily mean they have committed medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or healthcare provider does not use the same degree of care that other reasonable professionals in their field would have employed and it results in unnecessary harm to their patient.
5 Common Medical Malpractice Claims
Medical malpractice claims can come in many forms. Your injury may not fall into any of the categories you read about below, or it may fall into multiple. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but being able to recognize some of the most common claims may help you recognize a valid medical malpractice claim from an injury you or a loved one have sustained.
1. Misdiagnosis/ Failure to Diagnose
A failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis is the most common type of medical malpractice claim in Nova Scotia. This is largely due to emergency rooms and clinics becoming overburdened with patients, resulting in patients having to suffer through long wait times before they can be assessed.
As a result of the long wait time, conditions can get worse or change and cause the patient to not receive proper treatment. Furthermore, many illnesses have obscure symptoms or share symptoms with another illness, making them difficult to diagnose.
An improper diagnosis can result in extended hospital stays, unnecessary and potentially harmful treatment, and the risks posed by your illness going untreated.
2. Birth Injuries
Welcoming a new baby into your home is a very exciting time for parents and family members. When you or a loved one is pregnant, you will likely be cared for by a healthcare provider, whether it be a doctor, nurse or otherwise. These people are human and can make mistakes, but that does not change their duty to provide you with an acceptable standard of care.
An avoidable mistake could cause irreversible harm to a newborn or mother. Negligence during childbirth can lead to lasting injuries such as fetal distress, spinal cord damage, postpartum hemorrhage and infant brain damage.
3. Prescription Drug Errors
Patients can be harmed when they are given the wrong medication, wrong dosage or not made aware of the potential side effects. Many medical professionals, including doctors, pharmacists and drug manufacturers can be held liable for prescription mistakes.
It is helpful to note that if you are making a malpractice allegation against a pharmacist in Nova Scotia, you have a shorter amount of time to file your lawsuit. As per the Pharmacy Act, you have one year from the date the professional services were provided to start your lawsuit.
4. Surgical Errors
Surgical errors can result in many complications. An incorrect incision site, wrong surgery site or leaving a foreign object inside the body can all result in serious harm to the patient.
Surgical errors can be the consequence of a surgeon’s mistake, the result of poor preoperative another negligent action. These errors can cause infections, lifelong damage and even death.
5. Anesthesia Errors
Anesthesia can be extremely dangerous when not administered correctly. If an anesthesiologist fails to properly review their patient’s medical history, or gives too much or too little anesthesia, the consequences can be serious.
Anesthesia malpractice can happen in the operating room, pre-op and recovery rooms, and during sedation for dental procedures and other outpatient operations.
What do you Need to Prove a Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you are still finding it difficult to understand what differentiates medical malpractice from allowable mistakes and injuries, do not worry, because you are not alone. Below is a more in-depth explanation of the three things you must be able to prove in order to receive compensation in a medical malpractice case.
Breach of the Standard of Care
Your doctor has a responsibility to treat you with care and avoid acts that will likely harm you. They are expected at minimum, to perform their duties to the standards expected of their profession. This is called the standard of care.
In other words, if your doctor has treated you in a way that a reasonable doctor also would have treated you, given all known symptoms and circumstances, your doctor has met the standard of care and you do not have grounds for a medical malpractice suit.
However, if your doctor or healthcare provider has failed to provide you with the reasonable care expected of someone in their profession, they may be considered negligent.
It is not enough to show that your healthcare provider was negligent to have a successful medical malpractice claim. You must also prove that you have suffered a compensable injury. You cannot bring a medical malpractice claim based on negligence that almost caused an injury or other harm. Medical malpractice suits cannot be won in “near misses” or “almost injured” situations.
Lastly, in order to win a medical malpractice claim, you must be able to prove that your doctor’s breach of the standard of care was the cause of your injury. Your doctor can be negligent, and you may be injured, but there still must be evidence that shows how their negligence directly caused your injury.
In many cases, the cause of the patient’s illness, injury or death is not necessarily clear. Sometimes patients suffer from an illness, injury or death even if there was no negligence, or when negligence was present but was not the cause of the harm in question.
How to Start a Medical Malpractice Claim
While it is always a personal choice as to whether or not you hire a lawyer for your claim, medical malpractice suits can be some of the most complex and challenging cases to succeed in. We recommend contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible if you think you have been injured as the result of medical malpractice.
NOVA Injury Law’s free case review process is a risk-free way of understanding the likelihood of you having a valid claim, and whether or not your claim requires a lawyer.
How can NOVA Injury Help you?
Doctors and other healthcare providers have massive insurance funds, meaning they often have a wealth of resources to defend their actions. This can be understandably intimidating for victims who want to receive compensation for their injuries. To maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation, preparation is key.
NOVA Injury Law is the only firm in Atlantic Canada with a doctor on the team, which gives us a unique advantage when advocating for the interests of our clients. Chief Medical Consultant, Dr. Laura Mitchell is a practicing emergency room physician with special training in occupational medicine. She helps NOVA Injury Law support our clients’ medical malpractice claims by gathering the most complete, accurate and convincing medical evidence available.
If you would like to learn more about what it takes to win a medical malpractice claim, contact us now to book your free case review. We will give you an honest opinion about your case, how much your claim might be worth, and what you should consider as your next steps.
If you think you, or someone you know has been injured as the result of medical malpractice, call NOVA Injury Law today for FREE CASE REVIEW at 1-800-262-8104.