image of patient sitting with medical employee

People in Charleston entrust their health to the doctors and hospitals they go to for treatment. Unfortunately, sometimes a healthcare provider makes a preventable medical error, and the patient is harmed rather than helped by the medical treatment.

If you suspect that your or your loved one’s health was made worse due to medical malpractice by a Charleston, SC doctor or hospital, a qualified Charleston medical injury attorney can guide you through the pain and confusion that follows an injury due to medical negligence.

Joye Law Firm is a well-established law firm with five offices across South Carolina, including our North Charleston office. Our legal team takes a personal interest in each family we represent, and our attorneys deeply care about our clients.

Contact a North Charleston medical malpractice lawyer for a free consultation or fill out an online contact form. Legal experience matters in medical negligence cases. Our attorneys have more than 300 years of combined legal experience helping individuals and families who have been harmed. Our North Charleston office is conveniently located at 5861 Rivers Avenue, just off I-26 and between Aviation Avenue and Remount Road in North Charleston.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers in the Lowcountry have a legal responsibility to follow the recognized standard of care in providing treatment to patients.

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider delivers substandard care, resulting in injury or harm to the patient. Medical professionals who may be liable for medical malpractice include:

  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Nurses
  • Physician’s assistants
  • Chiropractors
  • Surgeons
  • Pharmacists
  • And more

Medical malpractice can also be committed by a hospital, trauma center, surgical center, birthing center, nursing home, or other medical institution that employed the at-fault provider.

How do you know if you have been a victim of medical malpractice? You are unlikely to know whether a doctor or other health care provider provided substandard medical care without an independent investigation by a qualified Charleston medical malpractice attorney. Doctors and hospitals typically will not acknowledge to you that they have made a serious, preventable error. Many patients receive confusing explanations from doctors, and are left with more questions than answers about what really happened when their treatment results in a bad outcome.

Our legal team at Joye Law Firm is ready to help you determine whether you were a victim of medical negligence, and can hold accountable those who caused the harm.

Common Types of Medical Malpractice Cases in Charleston

Injuries to patients as a result of medical negligence can take many forms. They can happen in emergency rooms, delivery rooms, surgery wards, and Charleston doctors’ offices.

Some of the types of medical malpractice that are common in Charleston hospitals and medical facilities include:

Surgical Injuries

Surgical errors are among the most common mistakes. Some surgical procedures are performed laparoscopically with doctors looking at the area of surgery on a video screen. That can cause distortions in the field of depth, leading to perforations or cuts to nearby tissue.

When a North Charleston doctor makes an error during surgery or a diagnostic procedure, particularly if that error involves punctures and organ perforations, the harm to the patient can be serious and, in some instances, life-threatening. Some surgical errors are caused by sponges or surgical tools being left inside a patient.

Surgeries on the wrong body part and on the wrong patient still occur with disturbing frequency, despite efforts to put in place safety protocols to prevent these types of preventable errors.

Failure to Diagnose and Treat in a Timely Manner

A doctor’s failure to diagnose a serious condition early when it is still controllable leads to numerous preventable deaths each year.

Frequently misdiagnosed conditions include cancer, stroke, heart attacks, appendicitis, and pulmonary embolisms. Sometimes, diagnostic errors occur because a doctor fails to order the proper test, or the doctor incorrectly communicates the test results.

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia prevents patients from experiencing pain or discomfort while doctors perform surgery and other medical procedures. However, an anesthesiologist must carefully monitor a sedated patient’s heart rate and other vital signs throughout the procedure.

An error in anesthesia dosage or a lack of proper monitoring can result in serious adverse effects such as brain injury, heart attack, paralysis, and death.

Medication Errors

Medication errors cause numerous patient injuries and deaths each year. Illegibly written prescriptions, unclear abbreviations, and miscommunication among medical professionals can lead to medication errors.

Emergency Room Malpractice

The staff at Charleston hospital emergency rooms can sometimes be inundated with patients.

Even highly skilled ER doctors and nurses can make mistakes with serious consequences when faced with an overflowing emergency room and too few staff to give each patient the time and attention he or she deserves.

Emergency room errors occur because of understaffed emergency rooms, poorly trained ER staff, fatigued doctors and nurses, a lack of proper tests, or misread test results.

Labor and Delivery

Preventable birth injuries can occur during the delivery process. Some babies are born with birth defects that developed during pregnancy and cannot be prevented. Birth injuries, on the other hand, are often the result of preventable trauma inflicted during the birthing process.

If an obstetrician fails to anticipate complications with a difficult pregnancy and a baby is harmed as a result, the obstetrician may be liable for medical negligence. Birth injuries range from minor, temporary injuries to permanent medical conditions that cause life-long disabilities and require ongoing medical care.

Many preventable injuries that occur during labor and delivery require expensive follow-up surgeries or treatment.

If you or your loved one has been harmed by a preventable medical error involving a Charleston hospital or doctor, you may have a legal right to seek compensation. The medical malpractice attorneys working with Joye Law Firm are experienced trial lawyers, who represent people who have been harmed by medical negligence.

Steps to Take if You Suspect Medical Malpractice

If you suspect you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice, it’s important to take the right steps to address your concerns and protect your rights.

Here’s a guide on what to do:

  • Seek a Second Medical Opinion: It’s important to confirm whether the care received was indeed below the accepted standard. Consulting another healthcare professional can help you get a qualified second opinion on the treatment or diagnosis you received.
  • Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all medical treatments, communications, and any other related documents. This includes medical records, prescriptions, bills, and any correspondence with healthcare providers.
  • Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney: Medical malpractice law is complex. An attorney with experience in this field can provide advice on the viability of your case, the potential for compensation, and the steps involved in pursuing a lawsuit.
  • File within the Statute of Limitations: Generally, the law in South Carolina requires that medical malpractice lawsuits be filed within three years from the date of treatment or discovery of the injury. A lawyer can help you file your claim to ensure you beat this deadline.
  • Have Your Case Reviewed by a Medical Malpractice Review Panel: Before you can proceed to court, South Carolina law requires that your case be reviewed by a medical malpractice review panel, which will issue an opinion on whether the evidence supports a claim of malpractice.
  • Obtain Expert Testimony: In a medical malpractice lawsuit, expert testimony is usually required to establish the standard of care, show how it was breached, and demonstrate that the breach caused the injury. Your attorney will work to identify and secure expert witnesses for you.
  • Prepare for the Legal Process: If your case proceeds, be prepared for a process that may involve discovery (exchange of information between parties), depositions (sworn statements), and, possibly, a trial. Your attorney will guide you through these steps.
  • Consider Settlement Options: Consider the pros and cons of accepting a settlement versus going to trial. A settlement can provide compensation without the uncertainties of a trial, but sometimes going to trial may be advisable in order to get full compensation.

Proving Medical Negligence in Charleston, South Carolina

Proving medical malpractice in South Carolina is complicated. Whether a doctor’s error meets the definition of malpractice depends on whether the physician deviated from the recognized standard of care, causing the patient suffered harm as a result. That requires a technical analysis of the patient’s medical records by independent medical professionals to offer an opinion of whether malpractice occurred. It is essential to have skilled Charleston medical malpractice attorneys handling the case.

To prove medical malpractice, the injured patient must show that:

  • The doctor owed a duty of care to the patient by virtue of having a doctor-patient relationship.
  • The healthcare provider violated the duty of care.
  • The patient suffered physical harm as a result of the doctor’s substandard care.

Showing that a doctor committed malpractice requires proving that a he or she did not provide the standard of care reasonably expected of a medical professional in the community. If you contact Joye Law Firm to represent you for a medical malpractice case, we will first have you interviewed by a Legal Nurse Consultant to determine if there was a breach in the standard of care. This service is free of charge, and ensures your case receives the attention it deserves.

A medical malpractice attorney in Charleston may also opt to hire a medical professional to serve as an expert witness. An expert witness can help your case by testifying about what the standard of care should have been in the specific situation that led to your injury.

What Role Do Medical Experts Play in Medical Malpractice Cases?

Medical experts play a pivotal role in medical malpractice cases, providing critical insights that are fundamental to the litigation process.

Their involvement typically encompasses the following:

  • Establishing the Standard of Care: Medical experts define the level of care, skill, and treatment that is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent healthcare providers in similar circumstances.
  • Identifying Deviations from the Standard of Care: Experts examine the specifics of the case to determine whether the care provided deviated from the established standard, thereby constituting a breach of duty.
  • Determining the Cause: They assess whether there is a direct link between the breach of the standard of care and the harm or injury suffered by the patient. Establishing this causation is crucial for a successful malpractice claim.
  • Providing Testimony: Expert witnesses present their findings and opinions during depositions and trial proceedings. Their testimony helps the judge and jury understand complex medical issues and make informed decisions about the case.
  • Reviewing Medical Records: Experts meticulously review medical records and other relevant documents to understand the treatment timeline and decisions made by the healthcare providers.

How Does Medical Malpractice Affect Victims and Their Families?

The impact of medical malpractice on patients and their families can be profound and multifaceted. When determining the damages associated with a medical malpractice lawsuit, attorneys will take all of these aspects into consideration.

It can touch every aspect of their lives, including:

  • Physical Suffering: Patients may experience significant physical pain and disability, often requiring additional surgeries or prolonged treatment, and in severe cases, leading to permanent disability or even death.
  • Emotional and Psychological Distress: The trauma of medical malpractice can lead to emotional turmoil, including stress, anxiety, depression, and a loss of trust in medical professionals, all of which can impact victims’ overall quality of life.
  • Financial Strain: The additional medical bills, coupled with the potential loss of income due to the inability to work, can place a heavy financial burden on patients and their families. Long-term care or rehabilitation costs can be particularly overwhelming.
  • Impact on Quality of Life: Patients may face limitations on daily activities, loss of independence, or an inability to engage in hobbies or interests that they previously enjoyed.
  • Relationship Strain: The stress and demands of dealing with the aftermath of medical malpractice can strain relationships with spouses, family members, and friends, altering family dynamics and social interactions.

Damages Available in Medical Malpractice Cases in Charleston

The types of compensation that a patient harmed by medical malpractice in South Carolina may seek to recover include:

  • Medical costs for additional follow-up surgeries or medical care required as a result of medical negligence
  • Lost income from missed work
  • Physical pain and mental anguish
  • A spouse’s loss of consortium
  • Punitive damages to punish outrageous conduct (in exceptional cases)

Every medical malpractice case is unique, and the results of one case are not in any way intended to imply that a similar outcome can be obtained in another case. However, the record of verdicts and settlements obtained by Joye Law Firm underscores our firm’s experience in successfully handling serious injury cases. Click to read more about the results obtained for our past clients. Let us help you, too.

If our attorneys agree to pursue your medical malpractice case, it will be handled on a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee arrangement allows a person to obtain legal representation without having to pay money out of pocket. You will only pay a legal fee if your case is successfully resolved through a negotiated insurance settlement or a jury award. Most cases are settled out of court without a trial.

Contacting a Charleston Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured by medical malpractice in Charleston, or anywhere in South Carolina, including Allendale, Colleton, Bamberg, Dorchester, Beaufort, Hampton, Berkeley, Jasper, Calhoun, or Orangeburg counties, you should consult with our knowledgeable attorneys to review the details of your injury and discuss your legal options.

Call Joye Law Firm today for a case evaluation or fill out our free online contact form.

Joye Law Firm North Charleston Office Location

5861 Rivers Ave
North Charleston, SC 29406
(843) 508-9015