Holding Doctors, Nurses & Medical Staff Accountable
When a doctor fails in their responsibility to patients, the results are life-altering in many cases and can require the help of a lawyer. Negligent medical diagnosis, treatment, or surgery can cause injuries or complications that have devastating effects, including the loss of a loved one.
There are many reasons that a medical malpractice lawsuit might be brought against a healthcare provider. Whether it’s a failure to properly prescribe medication or meet standards of care, any caregiver who fails to do their job in a safe way needs to be held accountable. Talk to an Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyer at Christie Farrell Lee & Bell today if you think your healthcare provider did not properly treat or diagnose an injury or illness.
Why Hire a Medical Malpractice Attorney?
What is Medical Negligence?
An act of medical negligence happens when a healthcare professional performs outside the generally accepted or legally mandated standards of care. This could mean prescribing medicine for off-label use, giving inadequate aftercare instructions compared to others in their practice area, or simply not paying attention to things they should. Medical negligence can also occur through failure to act when most other caregivers would choose to give a certain treatment or intervention (like oxygen or CPR), and injury or wrongful death results because one care provider did not follow those standards of care. Statistics show that around 250,000 people are killed by medical errors every year.
Some common forms of medical malpractice are:
- Failure to diagnose, including failure to order tests
- Failure to consult with another doctor if specialty insight is needed
- Premature discharge from the emergency department
- Failure to review medical records
- Not using an interpreter to communicate adequately with family, leading to the patient’s injury or death
- Failure to address abnormal results or make a new diagnosis based on new information
For a medical malpractice lawsuit to succeed, injuries must be directly caused by this negligence of the health care provider. Between 2009 and 2018, reports have shown that physicians (MD) are more likely to be sued for medical malpractice.
Medical Malpractice Cases We Take
Prescription Drug Negligence: Pharmaceutical negligence is the result of a doctor improperly prescribing a patient medication. These mistakes can occur at the pharmacy as well, or when a nurse or aide gives a dose in a hospital or nursing facility.
This type of medical malpractice takes many forms like:
- Dosages that are too much or too little
- The wrong type of medication
- Medicine that causes negative interactions
- Medicine that causes patients to have allergic reactions
- An incorrect dose to a child
A physician might also fail to give their patient the proper instructions they need in order to take their medication safely, which can also have serious consequences. In Indiana, making a case against caregivers that may be negligent in this way requires the support of a team that understands Indiana’s medical malpractice system.
Pregnancy Injuries: There are a few reasons why a pediatrician, nurse, or other professional might have a medical malpractice lawsuit brought against them after helping with pregnancy or delivery gone wrong. 27 out of every 1,000 babies born every year in the United States suffer some type of birth injury during the delivery process. In fact, the most common medical specialty named in a medical malpractice lawsuit is obstetrics, with cases against obstetricians making up over 10% of medical malpractice claims.
These types of suits are brought for a few different reasons. The first and most common are injuries sustained by a mother or fetus while in the care of a physician. Injuries sustained to a baby during childbirth could result in nerve damage that comes in the form of Erb’s Palsy, nerve damage caused by the stretching or pulling of a baby’s neck during labor.
Other common injuries that occur to babies at birth are:
- Broken bones
- Brain damage
- Cerebral palsy
- Medical negligence treating the pregnant mother
Failing to diagnose a problem or misdiagnosing a medical condition like ectopic pregnancy, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or other issue is also a reason that medical malpractice suits occur. Conditions such as ectopic pregnancy occur in 1-2% of all childbirths. This is when the fetus is attached to somewhere inside the woman other than the uterus. Not only is this a dangerous condition that might go unnoticed, but if a doctor misdiagnoses this condition, they may administer medications that could cause the mother to miscarry without need.
Nursing Home Neglect : If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a nursing home, in most cases this will fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice. Malpractice at a nursing home can result in serious harm or even death for residents. Any nursing home or assisted living facility owes a duty of care to its residents. If they don’t abide by that duty and their negligence causes an injury to a nursing home resident in Indiana, they can be subject to a medical malpractice claim. In this case, the resident must be able to prove that the nursing home did not act in good faith or in a way that meets industry best practices.
Some common signs of physical nursing home neglect are falls, bedsores, and community-acquired infections. Neglect at nursing homes or assisted living facility neglect is a serious form of medical negligence and should be handled with the help of a local medical malpractice attorney.
Caregiver Negligence: There are many cases where doctors and nurses don’t hold up their duty of care and are responsible for the injury or even death of a patient. This could include misdiagnosis of a stroke or heart attack, not following standards of hygiene, or minimizing a patient’s symptoms when other doctors might have done differently.
Negligence by the caregiver is only a legal factor when your condition is getting worse or not improving because of the medical care provided. With conditions like sepsis and others that develop over time, this is especially true and important to show that your home care or habits haven’t contributed. It’s important to contact an attorney quickly to help you. They can instruct you on how to document your condition so that the medical records are not the only account.
Nursing Negligence: Doctors aren’t the only ones who can be found guilty of medical malpractice. In many instances, it is the nurse who is negligent. Nurses are in charge of the day-to-day care of a patient, which means they have more contact and more opportunities to make an error than a doctor or specialist.
While it might be true that doctors are the ones who make the big decisions for the patients, small errors made by a nurse can have serious consequences. From not recognizing that a patient needs immediate care, improper care of a patient which leads to bedsores, to administering an incorrect drug or dosage during a procedure, these little mistakes can lead to horrible outcomes.
Other situations may include:
- Failure to adequately monitor a patient
- Dispensing medication to the wrong patient
- Failure to follow a doctor’s orders
- Performing procedures improperly or without adequate training
- Providing the doctor with incorrect information
Surgical Injuries: Undergoing surgery is a scary prospect for anyone who has to have one. To make matters worse, it has been reported that every year over there are 4,000 preventable surgical mistakes made. These types of surgical mistakes that lead to medical malpractice lawsuits are called “never” mistakes, or mistakes that just shouldn’t happen. These types of surgical mistakes may include cases where a patient has the wrong procedure performed on a healthy body part. Errors like surgical tools or sponges being left inside a body, or a procedure performed that is meant for another person entirely, are more examples of “never” mistakes.
Robotic DaVinci Surgery Injuries: A common type of surgery that often encounters problems is DaVinci Robotic surgery. A study of the FDA data from 2000-2013 showed over 1,745,000 robotic surgical procedures performed over those years, and 10,624 negative events occurred with the DaVinci System. Over 8,000 of those incidents were device failures, meaning the surgeon was mid-procedure and the equipment stopped working. Reports of burns from the device are relatively common among the 1,535 who had serious adverse impacts from the device after their surgery. 144 patients died during those 13 years as a result of complications from the device.
Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice : When most people think of surgery, they often only think of procedures that are performed in life-or-death situations. However, cosmetic surgery is more popular today than ever. If you have undergone cosmetic surgery and have had an infection, damage to your nerves, or need additional surgeries to adjust implants that were improperly placed, you may have a medical malpractice case. If this sounds familiar reach out to a qualified medical malpractice attorney today.
Foot Injury Negligence Cases: Foot injuries can be some of the most painful types of orthopedic injuries that people suffer through. In many cases, this type of injury can render a person unable to not just work but enjoy life in general. Many injuries are caused by orthopedic doctors who are negligent when diagnosing an injury to a patient’s foot. These types of injuries are some of the most misdiagnosed or undiagnosed types of injury. If gone untreated or mistreated, foot problems can get much worse. In many cases even when a foot injury is diagnosed, the treatment is not helpful and can exacerbate an injury to the part of the body responsible for everyday movement.
When common foot ailments like plantar fasciitis, bunions, or flat foot are treated by a podiatrist and are either misidentified or when corrective procedures are negligently performed, this can have severe consequences that can majorly affect the patient’s quality of life. If you have missed work or live in pain because of a foot injury that was not handled properly by a podiatrist or other medical professional, you should call a medical malpractice attorney today.
Back and Neck Injury Treatment Errors: Neck and back injuries are some of the most common types of injuries and it is only getting worse. In the first decade of the 21st century, there was a 64% increase in reports of chronic neck and back pain. However, many times neck and back procedures fail to relieve pain or only do so temporarily. If a procedure is done unnecessarily or causes a patient’s condition to worsen, they might be a victim of medical malpractice. Often times, back and neck injuries can be misdiagnosed which leads to unnecessary or even harmful surgeries being performed.
Neck and back injuries can be some of the most debilitating afflictions a person can endure.
There are many ways one can injure their neck and back, but here is a list of the most commonly misdiagnosed neck and back injuries:
- Herniated discs
- Bulging discs
- Degenerative disc disease
- Muscle/soft tissue strains
- Pinched nerves
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal Fracture
Even if the correct operation is performed it can often lead to post-operative injuries that severely diminish a patient’s quality of life. All of these scenarios can lead to a medical malpractice case for a neck or back injury.
Contact an Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Lawyer
There are many areas in which medical malpractice can and does occur, disrupting and damaging lives every day. Whether it’s because of negligence during pregnancy, during a vital surgery, or a misdiagnosed disease, anyone can be a victim of medical malpractice. If you or a loved one has experienced medical malpractice in Indiana, contact one of our qualified Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyers today.
You can count on our 120+ years of combined experience to get you the results you need. Call us today to schedule a free consultation at (317) 245-3709.
Q:How do I know if I have a medical malpractice case?
A:Ultimately, the only way to find out if you have a valid medical malpractice case is to schedule a consultation with an attorney. A lawyer from our firm can review the facts of your situation, analyze medical evidence, and consult with expert medical witnesses to determine if the medical standard of care was breached. If we determine that your claim has merit, we can then help you with the next steps and pursue justice on your behalf.
Q:How long do I have to file a medical malpractice case in Indiana?
A:Medical malpractice lawsuits in Indiana are subject to a two year statute of limitations, meaning you typically have until the second anniversary of the alleged malpractice to take legal action against the responsible party. This time limit may sometimes be extended in situations where the malpractice-related harm is not immediately discovered or if the injured patient was a child under the age of six, though these extensions are not always guaranteed and can vary depending on the specific circumstances. If you are unsure how the statute of limitations applies to your case, or if you think the filing deadline may be approaching soon, it is critical you get in touch with our attorneys as soon as possible to determine your legal options.
Q:What is a medical panel review?
A:Indiana requires most injured patients to go through a complex and often time-consuming procedure known as a medical panel review before pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit. This process involves submitting evidence of the alleged malpractice to a jointly-selected panel of three licensed health care professionals and a nonvoting attorney chairperson who are tasked to impartially review the evidence and decide whether malpractice occurred. Once evidence is submitted, both the plaintiff and defendant have the opportunity to question the panelists. Panel members have 180 days from selection to examine the evidence and provide an expert opinion on whether the actions or inactions of the defendant constitute as medical malpractice. Regardless of the panel's opinion, you still have the option to bring the case to court, though the panel's opinion can be submitted as evidence at trial and the healthcare professionals who served on the panel may be required to testify as expert witnesses.
Q:Can a medical panel review be avoided?
A:Indiana law allows you to file a medical malpractice lawsuit without a medical panel review only if 1) both you and defendant agree in writing to bypass the medical review, or 2) you declare in writing that you are not seeking more than $15,000 in damages.
Q:How much is my medical malpractice case worth?
A:Every case is different, therefore it is impossible to predict the value of your case without discussing your situation with an attorney. Your medical malpractice case's value will be largely dependent on factors like the severity and long-term impact of your injuries, the amount of medical treatment you require, the amount of evidence proving the responsible party's liability, and the negotiation skills of your attorney.
Q:Is there a cap on medical malpractice damages in Indiana?
A:As of 2019, Indiana places a damage cap of $1.8 million for medical malpractice cases. This includes all economic and non-economic damages, including those related to pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost income, and lost future earning potential. While some other states have found malpractice damage caps to be unconstitutional, they are still in effect in Indiana.