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What Is Medical Malpractice? And Other Answers You Should Know

by The Beasley Firm  |  January 13, 2021  |  

We Want to Help Patients Understand Their Rights and Options in Cases of Negligence of Mistreatment

Being ignored or even injured by a medical care provider can shatter someone’s trust in our medical system. It can also result in expenses a patient wasn’t prepared for and can’t cover. Medical malpractice law matters because it can help patients recover the funds they need to cover treatment and other related needs while at the same time pushing back against unfit doctors, nurses, or medical facilities.

We strongly believe every patient who suffers due to a provider’s carelessness or poor judgment should have the chance to receive justice. At the same time, pursuing a medical malpractice case takes time, resources, and a skilled law firm to fight for you. Here’s what you should know if you are considering whether to file a claim.

Medical Malpractice Does Not Cover All Adverse Outcomes

One essential distinction to make when considering a malpractice suit is that between a medical outcome and medical negligence. Even the hardest-working and best-educated doctors are sometimes unable to save their patients. Drugs that have a 0.1% chance of causing side effects will have negative impacts on 1 of every 1,000 patients who use them. During a procedure for which complications are possible but unexpected, surgeons may be unable to prevent injury. None of these instances, however, signal medical malpractice.

The issue of malpractice focuses on negligence: Did your doctor provide care that measures up to medical standards? If the answer to this is no, you may have a malpractice case.

Types of Medical Malpractice Claims

Malpractice can take many forms depending on the type of treatment a patient is seeking. It may be the fault of a mistaken doctor or nurse, a careless medical team, or a facility’s management focused on cutting costs above all else. Patients file malpractice suits for issues including:

  • Anesthesia errors
  • Birth injury
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Emergency room errors
  • Equipment error
  • Infection
  • Lack of informed consent
  • Sports medicine malpractice
  • Medication errors
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Post-operative hemorrhage
  • Pressure ulcers/bedsores
  • Wrong-site surgery

Even this is just a small list of the most common types of malpractice. If you believe you suffered another type of negligence, read on to learn how you can identify whether your caregiver was negligent.

Identifying a Case of Malpractice

If an error is made in your care, you should not expect your doctor to admit to it. They may not even realize what they did wrong—and if they do, admitting they made an inexcusable mistake would damage their future legal defense. This means most patients must rely on their symptoms and intuition to determine whether they received full and proper treatment.

However, intuition is not enough to file a lawsuit. In fact, for medical malpractice cases, Pennsylvania requires you to submit a document known as a “certificate of merit” within a certain time period after filing your case. This document is an official statement from an appropriately qualified and knowledgeable medical professional who believes you did not receive sufficient care given your situation and your care team’s knowledge. As one can imagine, this process takes time, and requires that this medical professional be provided with all of the relevant medical records, radiographs, and other materials related to the care at issue.

When to File a Claim

Like all personal injury claims, medical malpractice cases are bound by a statute of limitations—a deadline by which they must be filed. If you do not bring your case within the statute of limitations, a court will dismiss it, so it is important to start your claim sooner than later. In Pennsylvania, there are a few different rules, depending on who brings the claim:

  • Two years after the plaintiff (the injured party) discovered or reasonably should have discovered an injury caused by malpractice; however, the safest approach is to have suit filed well before the two year anniversary, as the “discovery rule” is not always applied by the court;
  • For a minor, up to the age of twenty (two years after reaching the age of majority);
  • When addressing a wrongful death claim, two years after the death has occurred.

It is critical to not wait until the last minute to seek counsel for a potential malpractice claim. Filing a claim is not a quick process, and there are many pre-lawsuit hurdles and tasks that must be completed before one is permitted to file and proceed with a lawsuit.

Ask Us Your Questions About Medical Malpractice

The Beasley Firm has been serving Philadelphia and the rest of Pennsylvania for more than 60 years. In that time, we have fought and won a substantial number of serious medical malpractice cases. Our seasoned and highly experienced medical malpractice lawyers also include physicians and frequently work with top-tier professionals across the nation.

We are ready to fully investigate your medical malpractice claim and help you pursue a legal remedy.

Call our team today for your free consultation if you were seriously injured by medical negligence. You deserve justice.

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