Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

An empty courtroomIn any personal injury case, you need to prove your case, and in many cases, this requires the testimony of an expert witness. The phrase “expert witness” may sound intimidating, especially to non-lawyers. We hope to alleviate your fears, but also help you understand how a lawyer can help you with proving your claim.

What is an Expert Witness?

In order to understand the role of an expert witness in your case, you need to first understand that, generally speaking, witnesses are not allowed to testify as to their opinions in court. For example, someone who saw an accident while standing on the sidewalk can testify to what they saw but is not permitted to testify as to whether or not they believe one of the drivers was speeding. Similarly, a woman’s husband who was present during his wife’s surgery will not be permitted to testify as to whether the doctor committed medical malpractice.

Many A man with a suit hold a piece of paper that says "lawsuit"people think of personal injury attorneys purely in terms of car accident cases. The truth is that a personal injury attorney can help you in any situation where you have been injured through someone else’s fault. Serious injuries can have life-altering consequences. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you protect your future by seeking fair compensation for your injuries and other losses.

Unintentional Torts: Cases Involving Negligence

Personal injury attorneys handle tort cases – cases that involve an action or failure to act that resulted in harm to another person. Tort cases are civil cases, which means that the plaintiff is seeking a money judgment in order to receive compensation for their losses and injuries.

A doctor sitting at a desk with a patientIn our last post, we covered the basic elements of a medical malpractice claim. We’ll continue that discussion here with some other important considerations that will determine whether you can successfully pursue a claim for medical malpractice.  

The Statute of Limitations

In the state of Georgia, there is a two-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims. This means that you cannot file a lawsuit more than two years after the date your injury occurred. No matter how strong your case is, you will not be able to recover compensation for your injuries if you do not file within two years.

A doctor holding a chartWe trust our medical professionals with our health and are often reluctant to believe that something has gone wrong. After all, it’s not uncommon to be in pain or suffer adverse effects following extensive medical treatment. Unfortunately, things do go wrong and accidents happen that could have been prevented. We regularly receive questions from people wondering if something has gone wrong – how do you know if you’re the victim of medical malpractice?

Elements of a Medical Malpractice Case

First, it’s important to understand what you will need to prove in order to prevail in a medical malpractice claim. Legal claims are broken down into “elements” that are the basic requirements to make your claim. The elements of a medical malpractice claim are as follows:

An empty operating roomFollowing an eight-year review of medical death data, Johns Hopkins Medicine released a report in 2016 that there are an estimated 250,000 deaths per year in the United States due to medical error. According to the Johns Hopkins study, this would make medical errors the third highest cause of death in the country. One of the concerns noted in the study was that the CDC does not adequately classify deaths due to medical error, and so it’s difficult to identify exactly how many of these deaths occur each year. It’s even more difficult to calculate how many deaths are attributable to specific kinds of medical errors.   

It has been estimated that thousands of people die each year due to surgical errors, making it one of the most common types of medical malpractice claims. If you’re suffering following complications from surgery, this post will review some of the common issues that we’ve seen in handling surgical error cases.  

Common Surgical Errors

A woman receiving a massageGiven the rising cost of healthcare and insurance, it’s perhaps not surprising that more and more people are turning to alternative medicine for minor and even major illnesses. However, there are serious consequences to consider, and juries are starting to hold practitioners liable for the aftermath. In a case reported by the Los Angeles Times earlier this month, an alternative medicine practitioner by the name of Robert Young was held liable for advising a cancer patient to forgo traditional medical care. The plaintiff in the case was awarded $105 million, more than double what she was seeking. The woman now has stage 4 cancer, and doctors have estimated that she has only three or four years left to live.  

Negligence and Fraud

In her lawsuit, the plaintiff argued that Mr. Young’s practice was negligent and fraudulent. The jury obviously agreed after hearing a considerable amount of evidence, spending only three hours in deliberation. The plaintiff’s attorney hopes that the “cure-all cancer industry” will take notice, and stop taking advantage of desperate people overwhelmed with a life-threatening illness.  

A stethoscope hanging on the wallWe’ve written before about birth injuries, but a recent case from Columbus, Georgia serves as a reminder of how often these occur and how serious they can be. The case arose from a circumcision performed in 2013 where there were a number of failures on the part of the OB/GYN practice – (1) the nurse-midwife accidentally amputated the tip of the boy’s penis; (2) they failed to take steps for it to be reattached in a timely manner; and (3) they failed to inform the boy’s mother of the amputation or that it could be reattached. The plaintiff’s attorney argued that the boy will face a lifetime of complications as a result of the injury.  

We’ve been raised to trust our doctors, and the vast majority of those medical professionals are truly deserving of our trust. However, even good doctors can make mistakes. Some are reckless in caring for their patients, such as the “dancing doctor” that we covered earlier this summer. Sometimes a skilled physician makes a mistake, but then goes out of his way to cover it up and thereby further jeopardizes his patient’s health. The bottom line is that these cases happen more often than you think and can lead to a lifetime of health problems and even death.  

Birth Injury Statistics

Three people in scrubs and masks in an operating room performing surgeryWhen you discuss medical malpractice, most people assume that you’re talking about suing a doctor. But what if you’re injured while in the hospital as a result of malpractice, but it’s not the doctor’s fault? Who is responsible?  In many cases, the only remaining option is the hospital.

Physician vs. Hospital Negligence

Hospitals are corporate entities, and like any other corporation, they look for ways to limit their liability exposure. One way that they do this is by making it clear that most of the doctors at the hospital are not employees of the hospital – they have privileges to practice there but are not providing care on behalf of the hospital.  As a result, the hospital cannot be held liable for the negligence of the doctor. Similarly, your doctor cannot be held responsible for the hospital’s negligence, either.

For parents, grandparents, friends and extended family, there are few things in life as joyful as the birth of a child. Maybe that is why birth injuries or defects can be so upsetting – what should be a joyful time becomes fraught with fear and anxiety.  It can all be terribly overwhelming, but at a certain point, you need to ask the difficult question – who is responsible for my child’s suffering?

To be clear, not every birth injury is the result of medical malpractice. We are blessed with an excellent health care system in this country, staffed by some of the most highly-trained medical professionals in the world.  However, accidents can and do happen, and these accidents can severely affect the health of your child. In this post, we’ll be covering some common birth injuries that may be the result of medical malpractice. If your child is suffering from one of these injuries, you may want to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney.  

Birth Asphyxia

Earlier this month, the New York Times reported on an Atlanta area dermatologist who reportedly wanted to be known as the “dancing doctor.”  The doctor, Windell Davis Boutté, has been recently suspended by the Georgia Composite Medical Board after a video surfaced of her dancing to a hip-hop song while performing a procedure on a patient.  The Board stated that that allowing her to continue to practice would pose “a threat to the public health, safety, and welfare.”

A Pattern of Misconduct

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Medical Board had been investigating malpractice complaints against Dr. Davis-Boutté for two years. There have been multiple lawsuits, and the New York Times reported that over 100 people have come forward to complain. The suspension appears to have been finally sparked by a case that was reported at the end of May when one of Davis-Boutté’s patients was allegedly taken from her office to the emergency room. It was reported that the patient was having difficulty breathing and was bleeding from liposuction incisions. Upon examination, hospital staff reported that the patient had a collapsed lung and was suffering from serious blood loss.

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