Virginia medical malpractice attorneys
Compassionate representatives for you and your loved ones
Modern medicine is highly specialized, with new technologies and discoveries happening every day. While new developments in medicine are encouraging, it can be discouraging to learn about or experience serious consequences of improper medical care.
When we need medical treatment, we must be able to trust our doctors and other healthcare providers to perform within an acceptable standard of care. Sadly, this does not always happen – patients are injured through medical negligence every day.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is negligent or wrongful conduct. It happens when a doctor, surgeon or other healthcare provider fails to perform his or her duty to the patient within the accepted standard of care – that is, the actions performed by similar healthcare providers under similar circumstances. If malpractice is the cause of injury or death of the patient, a lawsuit may be filed to recover compensation from the responsible medical professionals.
How often does medical malpractice happen?
What most people do not know is that medical error is one of the leading causes of death and injury in the United States. Almost $4 billion was paid out for medical malpractice claims in 2015, according to Diederich Healthcare 2016 Medical Malpractice Payout Analysis. Of the nearly $4 billion paid out, the following were the most common medical claims:
- 30 percent for injuries resulting in death
- 18 percent for significant permanent injuries
- 16 percent for major permanent injuries
- 16 percent for quadriplegic, brain damage, and lifelong care injuries
- 8 percent for major temporary injuries
- 8 percent for minor permanent injuries
What is not medical malpractice?
If a patient gets worse or dies after visiting a doctor or hospital, that does not necessarily mean medical malpractice was committed. Medical malpractice occurs only when a medical professional acts - or fails to act - in the same way another competent medical professional would have in the same circumstances.
For example, a 50-year-old man goes to an emergency room, complaining of chest pain. The standard procedure in this situation is for the attending ER physician to order certain diagnostic tests, including these:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): Measures the electrical activity of the heart muscle. An abnormal ECG result can indicate the patient is having a heart attack.
- Blood tests: Elevated levels of certain proteins and enzymes in a patient’s blood are indicators of a heart attack.
- Chest X-ray: A chest X-ray lets a doctor examine the size, shape, and condition of the lungs, heart, and major blood vessels. Besides indicating a heart attack, a chest X-ray can reveal other reasons for chest pain, such as a collapsed lung or pneumonia.
- Computerized tomography (CT scan): CT scans can detect blood clots in the lungs (called pulmonary embolisms) - another cause of chest pain) and can detect heart ailments.
Depending on the results of these tests, the physician may prescribe medication or perform emergency surgery.
If the results show no sign of cardiac arrest or other heart ailments, the physician may diagnose the patient as having indigestion, give him antacids, and recommend a follow-up exam with his personal physician.
If the patient goes home and later suffers a heart attack, it does not necessarily mean that the attending ER physician was to blame, if the following happened:
- The doctor ordered or performed the correct diagnostic tests for the situation.
- The medical professionals involved correctly read or interpreted the results of those tests.
- The doctor made a reasonable diagnosis based on the evidence and symptoms - meaning that another well-trained doctor, faced with the same situation, would have come to the same conclusion.
Because the ER physician was not negligent in performing his duties, this case would not be considered medical malpractice. However, if the doctor did not order all the tests that are commonly ordered when a patient is experiencing chest pain, or if a medical professional at the ER incorrectly performed or read the results of those tests, then medical malpractice may have been committed.
How can I file a medical malpractice claim?
When you file a medical malpractice claim, you have the burden of proof, and must demonstrate the following:
- The standard of care that was in effect when the malpractice occurred.
- The doctor or healthcare provider breached the standard of care.
- You were injured as a direct result of the breach of the standard of care.
- Show the specific damages you suffered.
In most medical malpractice cases, including those involving failure to diagnose, expert opinions are required to prove a breach of standard of care and that the breach caused harm. Before a healthcare provider can be served with a complaint (lawsuit) in Virginia, in most cases, you need the signed opinion of a qualified expert stating that the healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care, and that the deviation is the cause of the injuries you are claiming.
Get professional help from proven medical malpractice lawyers in Virginia
Proving medical malpractice can be a complex and technical process. If you have been injured through medical negligence, you need a seasoned Virginia personal injury lawyer by your side. GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys have more than 60 years of combined experience and a winning track record in the courtroom. Contact us or call us at (804) 413-6777 or toll-free (855) 781-6777 for a free consultation.
Recent Medical Malpractice Case Results
- $675,000 Compensation - Nerve damage resulting in permanent pain, numbness, and limited arm and hand function.
See more case results here.
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