The results of a medical mistake can be devastating. You may have been in the hospital for days or weeks or suffered irreversible damage. Worse, you might not know that your doctor or healthcare worker made a mistake at first. If they don’t tell you or don’t make it clear that an error occurred, it’s easy to think you just had bad luck. However, you might eventually wonder if your medical complications could have been prevented. If this sounds familiar, you should speak with a Georgia medical malpractice lawyer who can help you determine if there is enough evidence to support a medical malpractice claim.
What is Necessary to Prove Medical Negligence?
All negligence claims begin with proving that the defendant has a “duty of care” that they failed to live up to, which resulted in damages for the plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit). “Duty of care” can vary depending on the situation. Broadly speaking, a healthcare professional’s duty of care is to provide appropriate medical care for patients.
How do you know if your healthcare provider failed to do this? Under Georgia law, you must provide evidence that your doctor did something outside the accepted “standard of care.” This means that other Georgia doctors, faced with a similar medical situation, would not have made the same decision as your doctor.
However, it’s often difficult for anyone outside the medical profession to know what most doctors would do in a given set of circumstances. For this reason, Georgia law requires a medical malpractice lawsuit filing to include an affidavit from a medical expert willing to testify that the defendant was responsible for at least one act of medical malpractice.
Investigating Your Medical Malpractice Claim
Your medical malpractice attorney will ask you questions about what happened. They will also want to review your medical records and may consult with medical experts to get a better idea of the typical standard of care for your treatment. In some situations, they might talk to witnesses, such as other healthcare workers or family members who were with you during your treatment.
If there is sufficient evidence that your healthcare provider operated outside the standard of care for your condition, we can file a malpractice lawsuit seeking damages to compensate you for your losses. These may include:
Additional medical bills resulting from the complications caused by malpractice. These can be quite high, especially if you developed a life-threatening condition due to medical neglect or require regular care in the future.
Lost time at work or lost earning potential if you cannot return to your job or work at the pace you did before.
Permanent disability or disfigurement resulting from the malpractice.
Pain and suffering, including both physical and mental pain. These damages can be extensive in medical malpractice cases.
Wrongful death damages if you’ve lost a loved one to medical errors. These damages may include loss of consortium or companionship, financial support, and more.
What Are the Consequences of Medical Negligence for Doctors?
This is an important question because sometimes patients hesitate to sue their doctor, even one who made a life-altering mistake. We’ve had clients express concerns, such as, “I don’t want to sue my doctor because I don’t want them to lose their job over this.”
If you have similar worries, you should know that most doctors don’t lose their job because of a single malpractice suit. More than a third of doctors have been sued for malpractice at least once, and in some specialties, the numbers are even higher – about 60 percent of surgeons and OB/GYNs, for example, have faced lawsuits. In fact, malpractice suits are so common in the industry that insurance companies offer malpractice insurance for healthcare workers. While Georgia law does not require malpractice insurance, most healthcare facilities insist on this coverage for their doctors. A typical policy covers $1,000,000 per occurrence, so awards in successful lawsuits aren’t usually paid by the defendant either.
This is not to say that doctors are never fired because of a malpractice claim. If such a lawsuit reveals that the doctor has a pattern of failing to meet the standards of care or violating hospital rules or professional ethics, the employer may decide to terminate them. But this is usually the result of repeated infractions on the doctor’s part, not the lawsuit itself. If the doctor’s actions were particularly egregious, the Georgia medical board might suspend their license, but again, this doesn’t usually happen solely based on one lawsuit. (If you wish to file a complaint with the medical board, you can do so separately. A lawsuit will not necessarily trigger an investigation into the defendant.)
In most cases, the main consequences of a medical negligence lawsuit are spending time preparing for depositions and higher insurance premiums from the doctor’s malpractice insurance carrier. Compared to the losses of a person harmed by medical neglect, these consequences are usually minor.
What Are Some Examples of Medical Negligence?
This is not an exhaustive list, but here are some common situations that may be medical negligence under certain circumstances:
Leaving a foreign object in the body during surgery. This is one of the few situations in which Georgia’s two-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice suits is extended. If you have just discovered that a surgeon left a foreign object inside your body four years ago, you will have one year from the date of discovery to file a lawsuit.
Prescribing the wrong medication or the wrong dosage.
Administering the wrong medication or dosage even though it was prescribed correctly.
Operating on the wrong body part, such as amputating the right foot when the left one had a cancerous tumor.
Misdiagnosing a serious illness, thus preventing early treatment.
Incorrectly performing a surgery or procedure.
Learn More About a Potential Medical Malpractice Claim from the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm
Our helpful staff members are standing by to answer your questions and help you determine if your injuries meet the criteria for a medical malpractice claim. Please contact the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm for a free, no-obligation consultation. If you do have grounds for a lawsuit and you want to proceed with one, we won’t charge you anything until we win or settle your case.
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