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Hospital & Nurse Negligence

When one is hospitalized, one is vulnerable and in need of care from medical professionals – professionals we expect to give proper care. When someone receives substandard care during a hospital stay from a nurse or a doctor, medical negligence attorneys should be consulted immediately. If there is a probable cause, medical negligence attorneys can help you attain compensation, and save other patients from suffering as a result of improper care from the same hospital or nurse.

Legal Definition of Negligence

Negligence (Lat. negligentia, from neglegere, to neglect, literally “not to pick up”) is a legal concept in common law legal systems, usually used to achieve compensation for injuries (not accidents). Negligence is a tort or delict and may pertain to criminal law. “Negligence” should not be confused with “carelessness,” as a person could be employing as much care as they are capable of and still fall short of the expected standard level of competence. When this occurs in a hospital or under a nurse’s care, serious repercussions can arise, and the healthcare provider is liable for any resulting injury.

What is Medical Negligence?

Any form of medical worker, by law, is culpable for acts of medical negligence. Patients can legally presume that they are being treated with a level of care that meets a certain standard. Should a healthcare professional drop the ball and medical negligence should occur, a case may be present.

Due to the complexity that many cases are often associated with, a medical malpractice attorney will have the ability to carry out an investigation in order to gather evidence to prove there is a probable case.

Since there are statutes of limitation laws which vary from state to state regarding medical negligence, and waiting too long to take legal action may disqualify your legal option. Therefore, it is necessary to act immediately if you or a loved one believes the medical treatment that was provided did not meet standard quality and may have been considered medical negligence. Contact Snyder and Snyder today for a free legal consultation.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs in a hospital setting when a health care professional’s negligence, carelessness or recklessness results in a patient’s injury or death. To be liable for medical malpractice, the health care professional must have failed to follow the customary standard of care. Medical malpractice can include:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Prescription errors
  • Failure to treat an illness
  • Birth injuries
  • Surgical errors
  • Failure to order tests
  • Nurse malpractice
  • Unsanitary hospital conditions
  • Failure to monitor a patient

According to The Washington Post, as of 2013, the most common oversights associated with successful medical malpractice claims were diagnostic errors, obstetrical mistakes, and improperly delivered medications.

What is Hospital Negligence?

Patients are treated by a team of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. Occasionally, preventable medical errors take place in the hospital setting—some of which may cause significant injuries to patients. When these injuries take place in the hospital setting, the hospital may be liable for hospital negligence. Hospitals can be held liable for any type of medical malpractice, including medical errors made by doctors, nurses and other health professionals.

What is the “Customary Standard of Care”?

Doctors are held to a standard of care that is set by the custom of their medical profession. To be qualified to practice as a physician, a person must first obtain knowledge and skill that is common to the members of their profession. When doctors fail to conform to the customary practices, they set themselves up for liability. As long as doctors practice medicine in a way that conforms to the medical profession’s established standards of practice, they will not be liable for medical malpractice.

How do I know if I have a valid hospital negligence claim?

Poor medical outcomes do not always indicate that medical malpractice occurred. Health care professionals must frequently make difficult decisions about treating medical conditions. Sometimes the care provider may make a decision that causes harm. However, as long as the decision was reasonable under the circumstances and was consistent with the customary standard of care, the health care provider will likely not be liable for medical malpractice.

If you are concerned that you suffered an injury due to hospital malpractice, contact an attorney to discuss your case. Medical malpractice lawyers are experienced at investigating claims of hospital malpractice and can help you determine whether you have a legal claim.

Does it matter if a doctor is a hospital employee?

Hospitals are responsible for the actions of their employees. If an employee’s negligence causes harm to a patient, the hospital will be liable for the patient’s injuries. While nurses, paramedics and medical technicians are typically hospital employees, doctors often are not.

Many doctors are independent contractors. If the doctor is an employee of the hospital, then the hospital will be liable for injuries caused by the physician’s medical errors. If the doctor is an independent contractor, the hospital may not be held responsible for medical errors, even if they take place at the hospital.

In an effort to address the issue of hospital liability for contracted physicians, the courts have sometimes referred to the doctrine of corporate or direct liability, by which a hospital may be found negligent for failing to monitor the treatment offered “within its walls.” Because there are some exceptions to this rule, you should speak with a skilled hospital malpractice lawyer to find out who may be held liable for a malpractice claim.

How can I prove that hospital negligence occurred?

To prove medical malpractice, the plaintiff must show that the health care provider deviated from the customary standard of care, and that this deviation caused the patient to suffer an injury. In medical malpractice cases, the deviation from the customary standard of care is referred to as a breach of duty. The plaintiff must be able to prove that the health care professional’s breach of duty caused actual physical, financial or psychological harm. While medical malpractice suits are relatively common, these cases can be difficult to win without proper representation or sufficient evidence. It is important to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can evaluate your claim, conduct an investigation and identify expert witnesses to determine whether the medical professional violated the duty of care.

Is there a statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims?

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims varies by state. In Maryland, according to Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 5-109, a claim must be filed either (a) five years from the time of injury; or, (b) within three years following the date the injury was discovered. The statute of limitations for a minor is different. Typically someone who is injured while under the age of 18 has until their 21st birthday to file a lawsuit. Of course, there may be exceptions to these general rules and therefore if you think you may have a case you should always speak with an attorney.

What type of compensation could I receive from a hospital negligence lawsuit?

The goal of personal injury law is to make the injured party “whole” again. In many cases involving medical negligence, it is impossible to undo the physical and emotional damage. However, the injured party may receive financial compensation for the physical, monetary and emotional damage that was experienced as a result of the negligence. Depending on the type of injury, a plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit could recover damages for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses and other injuries related to the malpractice. In cases involving wrongful death, surviving family members can receive compensation for funeral costs and loss of consortium. If the surviving family members were dependent on the decedent for financial support, they may be compensated for those lost financial contributions.