When we get sick or sustain an injury, we trust doctors, nurses, and other health care providers to apply their training and skill to deliver the care we need. Because healthcare professionals occupy a place of trust in the Summerville community and across the country, we tend to take it for granted that we’re in good hands when we visit a doctor’s office or hospital. Unfortunately, even experienced medical providers make preventable mistakes that cause serious harm.
If you believe that you have sustained harm due to substandard medical care, you may have questions about what options you have. Our Summerville personal injury attorneys at Joye Law Firm can help you understand your legal rights and whether you have a valid malpractice case. For more than 50 years Joe Law Firm has been helping people in South Carolina who have been harmed by medical negligence hold doctors and hospitals accountable. We are ready to assist you, too.
Call us today at (888) 324-3100 or contact a Summerville malpractice lawyer online for a free consultation. Learn more about how we can help you seek financial compensation for your losses.
What Is Considered Medical Malpractice in Summerville?
Medical malpractice occurs when a physician, nurse, or other medical professional fails to follow the recognized standard of care and harms a patient as a result. When a patient suffers preventable injuries or a disease is allowed to advance due to failure to order appropriate tests or misdiagnosis, the patient may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Generally speaking, medical malpractice cases are complex. Proving the existence of medical negligence can be a challenge. Neither the doctor nor the hospital is likely to tell you that you have been a victim of medical negligence. You will need the help of a knowledgeable Summerville malpractice attorney to obtain your medical records and evaluate what really happened to you and whether you have grounds to bring a malpractice claim.
Many medical procedures have some element of risk. The lack of a favorable outcome from surgery or another medical procedure is not itself grounds for a malpractice claim.
When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit with the help of an attorney, you typically need to demonstrate the four following elements of the case:
- A provider-patient relationship – You must show that a formal provider-patient relationship existed to file a malpractice lawsuit against your provider. In most cases, your medical records will prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed.
- Medical negligence occurred – Medical negligence is often the most challenging element to prove in a malpractice case. Medical care is highly complex. It’s difficult for most people to understand why something unusual happened in a medical setting. It’s usually necessary to hire independent medical specialists to review the patient’s records. The specialist can provide an opinion as to whether the treating physician failed to follow the standard of care that another reasonably competent provider would have delivered under similar circumstances.
- The negligence resulted in injury – To have a valid claim for medical malpractice, you must be able to prove that the provider’s negligence directly contributed to your injury or condition. Expert witness testimony can be helpful in demonstrating how the negligent provider’s actions resulted in preventable injury or advancement of an illness.
- The injury resulted in real losses – Finally, you must show that you suffered specific losses as a result of the medical malpractice injury or illness. This includes both financial losses, such as additional medical bills, and personal losses, such as pain and suffering.
Why Does Medical Malpractice Occur in Summerville?
Here are some of the causes of malpractice among medical professionals in Summerville:
- Understaffing – In many hospitals and medical facilities, understaffing is a serious problem. When medical facilities do not have adequate staffing to meet demand, the lack of staff can lead to breakdowns in communication, failures to take a patient’s medical history, increased risk of medical errors, and decreased quality of patient care.
- Burnout – According to survey data published by the American Medical Association, roughly 42 percent of U.S. physicians suffer from job-related burnout. Overall, urologists, neurologists, and nephrologists report the highest rates of physician burnout. When medical professionals feel burned out, their work performance may suffer.
- Knowledge gaps – Although doctors and other medical professionals are well-educated, many areas of medicine require specialized knowledge. General practitioners tend to have limited knowledge of a wide range of topics. Specialists have an in-depth knowledge of a specific area of medicine. Unfortunately, doctors sometimes fail to order appropriate tests to make a proper diagnosis.
- Improper record-keeping – Accurate record-keeping is critical in the medical field. When medical providers fail to complete patient records or communicate test results in a timely manner, communication gaps can lead to adverse patient outcomes.
What Are Some Examples of Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice can take many forms. The following types of medical negligence represent the most common examples of malpractice:
- Misdiagnosis – A misdiagnosis occurs when a physician incorrectly diagnoses a patient’s condition or fails to diagnose the condition at all. This can occur because of a failure to consider the patient’s medical history or failure to order appropriate tests based on the presentation of symptoms. Misdiagnosis can lead to improper care or a complete lack of care.
- Delayed diagnosis – A delayed diagnosis occurs when a provider fails to reach the correct diagnosis for a patient’s condition in a reasonable amount of time. The delay may occur because of a failure to order certain procedures or tests, or a failure to communicate the test results. In some cases, a delayed diagnosis can allow a disease to spread and make it harder to manage.
- Incorrect treatment – If a provider treats the wrong condition or the wrong body part, the provider may accidentally cause serious harm to a patient.
- Birth-related injuries – Medical malpractice related to pregnancy, labor, delivery, or neonatal care can have serious consequences for mothers and babies. Common types of birth-related malpractice include failure to order a timely C-section during a difficult delivery, failure to properly monitor fetal development, and improper use of delivery devices.
- Medication errors – When patients receive incorrect dosages or incorrect medications, they can have severe negative reactions or miss out on the life-saving drugs they need.
- Surgical errors – Surgical errors are among the most potentially serious medical errors. Surgical errors include a surgeon operating on the wrong body part or the wrong patient, accidentally leaving surgical tools such as clamps or sponges inside patients, and failing to provide adequate post-operative care.
- Anesthesia errors – Anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists can be liable for anesthesia errors if they fail to review their patient’s medical history, administer the wrong dosages of anesthetic, or fail to properly monitor patients who are under anesthesia.
Types of Damages You Can Pursue in a Medical Malpractice Case
Many medical malpractice victims end up spending additional time in the hospital, incurring costly medical expenses, missing time at work, and suffering life-changing symptoms.
If you believe you may have suffered harm and financial losses as the result of medical malpractice in Summerville or anywhere in South Carolina, you may be entitled to seek compensation in a medical malpractice case. You may claim compensation for medical expenses and other expenses and losses related to medical malpractice such as:
- Medical and hospital bills
- Cost of in-home care
- Cost of travel to medical appointments
- Cost of medical equipment expenses
- Cost of home or vehicle modifications
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Lost insurance benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Loss in quality of life
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases in Summerville, South Carolina
Medical malpractice cases in Summerville, S.C. are subject to deadlines under the state’s statute of limitations. Under § 15-3-545 of the South Carolina Code, patients typically have just three years to file medical malpractice in South Carolina courts.
This three-year period begins on the date when the injury occurred. If a patient does not immediately realize they have been injured as a result of malpractice, they may file a medical malpractice lawsuit within three years of the date when they discover or reasonably should have discovered they had an injury. All medical malpractice lawsuits in South Carolina must be filed within six years of the date of the original malpractice incident, regardless of when the patient learns of the injury.
If you try to file a medical malpractice lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired, the court will likely dismiss your case. This means you will lose your right to demand compensation in court, no matter how strong your underlying case may be. This is why it’s important to contact a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to be sure your case gets filed in a timely fashion.
Contact a Summerville Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
At Joye Law Firm, our attorneys consult with a network of trusted medical specialists to develop our client’s medical malpractice cases. We have the experience and resources needed to help you pursue the recovery you need after a Summerville medical malpractice injury. If you believe you have been a victim of medical negligence, give us a call to evaluate the situation.
Call us today at (888) 324-3100 or contact us online to learn more about your legal options in a free initial case review.