People go to the hospital, urgent care clinic, doctor’s office or other health-care facility in hopes of getting better. Unfortunately, for too many people in South Carolina, they end up getting worse due to medical errors and other forms of medical malpractice.
In fact, preventable cases of medical negligence take the lives of nearly 100,000 Americans each year, according to several studies, and roughly one million people suffer some form of injury due to medical malpractice. Many more cases go unreported. To put those figures in context, about 34,000 people die in car crashes each year.
If you believe that you or a loved one was injured because of medical malpractice, it is important that you talk to a South Carolina medical malpractice attorney. These cases are usually very technical and require sophisticated analysis and review of pages and pages of medical records.
CONTACT OUR MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LAWYERS TODAY
Our South Carolina medical malpractice attorneys at Joye Law Firm can help you through the stress and confusion that follow an injury due to medical negligence. Respect, compassion and care are what you can expect from our lawyers and staff. Since 1968 we have helped injured people recover not just the money they are entitled to, but also their lives.
Let us help you too. Call Joye Law Firm. You can reach us at 877-936-9707 or fill out an online form for a free case review.
Joye Law Firm has offices in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Clinton, and Columbia, but our medical malpractice attorneys are ready to take care of your case anywhere in South Carolina. We represent clients all over the state, including Florence, Richland County, Orangeburg, Columbia, Horry County (including Conway and North Myrtle Beach), North Charleston, Mount Pleasant and Summerville.
Our South Carolina medical malpractice attorneys at Joye Law Firm have nearly 250 years of combined experience helping victims of life-changing injuries in South Carolina. Our lawyers have received an AV rating from the prestigious Martindale-Hubbell, and several have been recognized as Super Lawyers.
While every case is different, and past results are in no way intended to imply that a similar result can be obtained in a particular case, verdicts and settlements previously obtained by a law firm are an indication of the firm’s experience when it comes to serious injury cases. For more details about the results obtained for previous Joye Law Firm clients, please click on the Results tab on our home page.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE IN SOUTH CAROLINA
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional falls short of the standard of care in the treatment of a patient because the medical professional acts or fails to act, resulting in an injury to the patient. Medical professionals can include doctors, nurses, chiropractors, dentists, surgeons, physician’s assistants, pharmacists and more.
In addition to the individual who made the mistake, injured patients can also bring a lawsuit against the hospital, medical practice, clinic, nursing home or other medical institution that employed the at-fault professional.
In order to prove a medical malpractice claim, the injured patient must show that:
There was a relationship between the medical professional and the patient, giving rise to a duty of care;
The medical professional breached the duty of reasonable care; and
The patient was injured as a result of the breach of the medical professional’s duty of care.
That means that it is crucial that the patient suffered some sort of injury. If there was a mistake but no harm, there is no compensable claim. However, in many instances, medical malpractice causes serious, life-changing injuries, and even death.
Some of the damages that an injured patient might be able to recover include:
Medical costs to repair the damage caused by the negligent act, including future and ongoing medical costs
Pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish and other non-economic damages
A spouse’s loss of consortium
Punitive damages (in exceptional cases)
The Medical Standard of Care
One of the most difficult aspects to prove in a South Carolina medical malpractice claim is that the physician or health care provider did not act with the standard of care expected of such a professional in similar circumstances. This can be difficult in some circumstances – especially unique ones – because every health care provider has their own unique way of dealing with patients. In order to prove that the medical standard of care was not met in your case, our South Carolina medical malpractice attorneys must do the following:
Establish what the appropriate standard of care should have been; and
Explain in detail exactly how the defendant (the doctor or health care provider) failed to meet that standard of care.
Usually, our medical malpractice team will hire a medical expert on your behalf to testify as to what the typical standard of care should have been. The medical expert will provide the judge and jury with a brief education on the type and amount of skill that a similarly trained health care professional in the same field and under similar circumstances would have applied.
Proving Medical Negligence in a South Carolina Medical Malpractice Claim
Once the medical standard of care for your particular case is established, our South Carolina medical malpractice lawyers will set out to show the court exactly how the standard of care was breached—or, in other words, how the doctor failed to meet the established standard of care when treating you. This is usually where the medical expert shines, as it is his or her ultimate duty to prove malpractice by walking the jury through your condition, the appropriate course of treatment, and what exactly your doctor did or did not do at each stage of care.
It is important to keep in mind that an error in treatment can have occurred despite the medical provider’s best efforts to meet the reasonable standard of care. For instance, the procedure that they were charged with performing may have been incredibly complex, with several known risks that were properly disclosed to you ahead of time. In an instance such as this, the medical provider cannot be charged with medical malpractice, as the occurrence of the error that caused your injury may have been greater than the likelihood of success.
Finally, it is not enough to prove that your doctor “made a mistake.” You will need to show the link between the mistake that your provider made and the injuries you sustained. The medical malpractice lawyers at Joye Law Firm evaluate the evidence surrounding your case, including your medical records and the doctor’s notes from each of your visits, to show that if it were not for the doctor’s error, you would not have suffered a worsening of your condition or any decline in health.
In some cases, the doctor’s error is directly responsible for additional health problems that require further attention and treatment; if this is your case, we will also work to show the courts the link between the error and your declining health.
In other instances, the health care provider’s error comes in the form of a failure to diagnose. This could be anything from exactly that – a failure to diagnose your condition – to a misdiagnosis. A failure to diagnose can lead to a missed window of opportunity for treatment, prescribing the wrong treatment, or failure to treat entirely.
In any of these instances, if your doctor’s negligence caused a worsening in your health, you are entitled to damages, which you can pursue via a medical malpractice claim.
COMMON TYPES OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
Injuries due to medical malpractice can take many forms and can happen in almost any setting or context, including emergency rooms, operating rooms, doctor’s offices and more.
Some of the more common types of medical malpractice include:
Surgical injuries. Some patients suffer injuries when a surgeon performs an operation on the wrong body part or even on the wrong patient. A recent report in the Archives of Surgery revealed that wrong-site or wrong-patient surgeries occur about 2,700 times per year. Surgical errors are still common even when the surgeon operates on the correct patient in the right place, particularly with laparoscopic and bariatric operations. Another common type of surgical error happens when sponges or other instruments are left inside the patient. Malpractice can also occur after surgery when medical personnel fail to properly monitor the patient and provide proper post-operative care.
Anesthesia errors. Anesthesia is administered so that lifesaving procedures can be performed on patients about 40 million times per year. An anesthesiologist must carefully administer the anesthesia and monitor the patient’s vital signs throughout the operation. Brain injury, suffocation, paralysis, heart attack, coma and even death can result from mistakes in dosage and monitoring. In some instances, improper dosage can allow a patient to “wake up” during an operation, experiencing pain and distress.
Medication errors. One of the most common forms of medical mistakes, medication errors cause a significant number of injuries and deaths each year. Illegible handwriting and confusing abbreviations sometimes result in medication errors, as can medical professionals’ failure to properly communicate with each other. Another issue is drugs that have similar sounding or appearing names.
Failure to diagnose and treat in a timely manner. Failure to properly diagnose a serious condition early when the condition is still treatable leads to many preventable deaths each year. Commonly misdiagnosed illnesses include cancer, heart attacks, appendicitis, strokes and pulmonary embolisms. Sometimes diagnostic errors happen because doctors fail to spend enough time talking to patients about their symptoms, other times they are the result of bad communication among the medical personnel themselves.
Labor and delivery. The birthing process is a dangerous time for both the baby and the mother, and medical mistakes can result in injuries or death for both. Medical personnel present at a birth have a duty to monitor the status of mother and child, and to act quickly when problems develop. If they are negligent, permanent injuries can occur that will affect the child’s life.
Emergency room malpractice. South Carolina emergency room staffs can sometimes be overwhelmed with patients and become chaotic, inefficient and mistake-prone. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that nearly half of all medical malpractice-related deaths are from ER errors.
CONTACT OUR SOUTH CAROLINA MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE LAWYERS TODAY
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured by medical malpractice in South Carolina, you can trust our attorneys to work to get you the money and benefits you are entitled to.