When Myrtle Beach residents who are sick or injured visit doctors and other medical professionals, they count on receiving effective treatment and care. No one expects to leave a doctor’s office or hospital worse off than when they arrived. Unfortunately, harmful, preventable medical mistakes can and do occur in Myrtle Beach and across South Carolina. In cases of preventable error that lead to significant injury, patients or their families may have a legal right to demand compensation for their financial, physical and emotional losses.
If you have experienced an unexpected injury or lost a loved one as a result of substandard medical care in the Myrtle Beach area, our medical malpractice lawyers at the Joye Law Firm are ready to review the situation and discuss your legal options during a confidential consultation. It is daunting for patients to raise questions about a medical professional’s conduct or a hospital’s institutional practices. Unfortunately, neither doctors nor hospitals are likely to be candid with you if you have been a victim of medical malpractice. You will need the help of a determined malpractice lawyer to obtain your medical records and find out what really happened.
The Joye Law Firm is a well-established law firm with four offices in South Carolina, including an office in Myrtle Beach. Our experienced attorneys at Joye Law have been serving the people of South Carolina for 50 years and we have the resources to take on medical malpractice cases. Our legal team takes a personal interest in each client we represent. Please contact a Joye Law Firm medical malpractice attorney for a free consultation.
What is Medical Malpractice to a Myrtle Beach Resident?
Doctors, nurses, surgeons, nurse anesthetists, lab technicians, pharmacists, hospitals and other health care providers have a legal duty to provide treatment that meets a recognized standard of care. If the results of the treatment are questioned, the legal approach is to ask whether another medical care provider in the same situation could reasonably be expected to have made the same decision or come to the same conclusion.
A successful medical malpractice claim in South Carolina would demonstrate that a patient was harmed because of a preventable medical error or failure to act.
The facts of the case would establish that:
- There was a relationship between the medical professional and the patient, giving rise to a duty of care to the patient;
- The medical professional breached the duty of care by a negligent act or failure to act; and
- The patient was injured as a result of the medical professional’s breach of the duty of care.
These standards apply to all health care or medical service providers. They also apply to health care institutions and/or their corporate owners if it can be shown that the organization’s policies and procedures contributed to a patient’s injuries.
A South Carolina medical malpractice claim might seek to hold accountable one or more:
- Oral surgeons
- Nurses (RNs, LPNs, LVNs, etc.)
- Lab technicians
- Hospitals / medical centers, including emergency rooms
- Medical practices
- Assisted living facilities (nursing homes, convalescent homes)
- Rehabilitation centers.
Common Medical Errors Leading to Malpractice Cases
Anything can happen in an emergency room, surgical ward, delivery room, hospital room, or doctor’s office.
As medical malpractice attorneys in Myrtle Beach, we have seen the common types of preventable medical errors that warrant legal action. They include:
- Surgical errors. Mistakes during surgery are among the most common medical errors. Some of the more disturbing and frequent surgical errors are leaving sponges or surgical tools inside a patient or operating on the wrong body part. In other cases, surgical teams use unsanitary tools (potentially leading to infection), a surgeon punctures an organ adjacent to the intended surgery site, or “post-op” doctors and nurses fail to diagnose and treat internal bleeding or other complications.
- Birth injuries. Some birth defects that develop during pregnancy cannot be prevented. Birth injuries are usually caused by trauma during delivery and range from minor injuries a baby can recover from to permanent medical conditions that cause disabilities and require ongoing medical care. If the oxygen supply to a baby’s brain is reduced during delivery, it can cause brain damage and lead to conditions such as cerebral palsy. A baby who assumes an unnatural position in the birth canal may be physically injured if the doctor applies too much force to assist in the delivery. Surgical errors during or after a Cesarean section (C-section) may injure the mother or child.
- Emergency room errors. A hospital emergency room can become inundated with patients. Emergency room doctors and nurses may have to make split-second decisions with patients’ lives depending on quick action. Errors tend to occur when emergency rooms are understaffed and ER doctors and nurses are hurrying to treat too many patients. Errors in the ER may take the form of failure to order proper tests, failure to communicate test results, miscommunication errors or handoff errors, in which treatment, medication or lab work needs are not communicated because a patient is handed off to another doctor or nurse.
- Failure to diagnose and treat in a timely manner. Many conditions such as certain types of cancer require prompt diagnosis and early detection to treat the disease while it is most manageable. A doctor or nurse may fail to obtain a proper medical history, fail to order proper diagnostic tests, misinterpret tests results or fail to communicate test results, leading to a delayed diagnosis. Failure to diagnose is a common emergency room error. It also may occur in primary care practices and clinics due to inadequate training, experience and/or supervision.
- Medication errors. Medication administered in the wrong dosage or at improper intervals can cause serious harm. Illegibly written prescriptions, unclear abbreviations and miscommunication among medical professionals can lead to medication errors. Failure to obtain a complete medical history that includes current medications can lead to a harmful drug interaction.
- Medical equipment failure. Medical care relies on various tools and equipment for diagnosis, imaging, surgery, medication delivery, and assisting recovering and disabled patients. If a patient is injured or dies due to a medical equipment failure or malfunction, a case might center on whether staff members had received proper training to operate the equipment, whether the equipment was properly serviced and what the medical provider knew about the equipment’s condition.
Each example above represents a medical error that is preventable. In many cases, medical errors are due in part to an institution’s policies and procedures, whether they are established or implied through improper work practices that have been tolerated. In such cases, the hospital, medical center, birthing center or ambulatory surgery center may be held accountable through a medical malpractice claim.
Compensation Available in a Myrtle Beach Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
A medical malpractice claim seeks to make an improperly injured patient and/or their family financially whole. While little can be done to reverse the effects of a medical error in some cases, those harmed should not bear the costs. Under South Carolina law, victims of medical malpractice deserve to be compensated for the pain and suffering they have been needlessly put through.
Some of the compensation an injured patient might be entitled to demand as part of a malpractice claim includes:
- Medical expenses, including the cost of future and ongoing medical treatment necessitated by the error
- Lost income during recovery or due to inability to return to work
- Pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish and other non-economic damages
- A spouse’s loss of consortium
- Punitive damages in special cases of egregious negligence.
Developing and Pursuing Your S.C. Medical Malpractice Case
A successful medical malpractice claim must show that the doctor, nurse, hospital or other health care provider did not deliver the standard of care that should have been expected in Myrtle Beach, SC, and that the patient and/or his or her family was harmed as a result of this failure.
To pursue a claim for you, our medical malpractice team at Joye Law Firm will:
- Obtain and review your medical records to determine what happened to you.
- Hire a medical expert on your behalf to review your medical records to determine whether and how the defendant failed to meet the standard of care when treating you.
- Calculate all of your economic and noneconomic losses, including projected expenses, to determine the value of your claim and the amount of compensation you may demand.
It is important to remember that the evidence must show that your health care provider failed to do what a reasonably prudent doctor would have done in a similar situation and that what your provider did was the cause of your injury or death. Medical cases can be extremely complex. In some cases, an error occurred but it cannot be firmly linked to the patient’s injury or death. In other cases, our medical expert(s) disagrees with the defendant’s course of action but do not find it to be far enough beyond reason to make a case.
Our approach in medical malpractice cases is to pursue them as far as is practical with the intention of obtaining the maximum compensation available for our client. We do this without charge unless we recover compensation for our client.
Contact Our Myrtle Beach Medical Malpractice Law Firm
If you have questions about whether substandard medical care has left you or a loved one injured in the Myrtle Beach area, contact the Joye Law Firm to review your case and discuss your legal options. Medical malpractice claims in South Carolina are subject to a three-year statute of limitations in most cases. It is best to contact an experienced malpractice attorney as soon as possible to avoid delays that could jeopardize a claim.