If you or a loved one is hospitalized because of an injury or illness, you are putting your health and safety in the hands of medical professionals. From physicians and nurses to orderlies and station assistants, hospitals must ensure that their staff has been thoroughly trained and that they are following the policies and procedures that have been put into place. When mistakes are made that harm the patient, the hospital administration and the medical professional who treated you can be held liable for medical negligence.
Examples of medical mistakes that can lead to hospital negligence include the following:
- Anesthesiologist complications
- Delayed or incorrect diagnosis
- Failure to obtain informed consent
- Hospital infections
- Medication errors
- Nursing errors
- Surgical errors
In most cases, if a patient is injured because an employee of the hospital acts incompetently, the hospital will be liable for the patient’s injuries. However, this does not include mistakes made by doctors who are not employees of the hospital. Non-employee doctors are considered independent contractors, which means the hospital is not responsible for their medical malpractice. An exception to this rule is if the hospital gives staff privileges to an incompetent doctor, or if the hospital did not fully explain to the patient that the doctor is not a hospital employee.
Pursuing Legal Action
If you plan to file a medical malpractice claim against a hospital, you must prove the following elements.
- The hospital had a duty to you. In most cases, a copy of a test or medical procedure, or your visit to the emergency room is proof of this element.
- The hospital breached its duty to you. After establishing the accepted standard of care, a medical malpractice lawyer can prove how the hospital failed to meet this standard.
- The breach of duty caused your injury. You will only have a valid claim if the hospital’s mistakes caused you harm.
- The hospital’s mistakes are the cause of your damages. If the hospital tried to show that you were responsible for what happened, a medical malpractice lawyer can help build your case and be prepared to counter the argument.
Steps to Take When Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
- Act quickly. If you wait too long to file a claim, the statute of limitations could run out, and you will be unable to pursue legal action.
- Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer. Medical malpractice cases can be extremely complex, so it is not recommended that you handle the case on your own.
- Determine Whether the Hospital or an Independent Contractor is Negligent. Most doctors are independent contractors, so if the doctor provided sub-standard care, you would have to sue to doctor, not the hospital.
- Obtain Medical Records. Request all medical records from the hospital. Every hospital must keep patient records on file for up to several years.
- Determine Damages. Consider all losses that are connected to the malpractice, including medical expenses, loss of wages, pain and suffering, and a compromised quality of life.
- Determine Who is Responsible for the Mistake. When a number of medical professionals are involved in treating you, you must determine who is responsible for the medical error. For example, it could be a nurse, a pharmacist, or an ambulance service, to name a few.
- Comply with the Rules. The patient can speak with their medical malpractice lawyer to find out if they have to file an affidavit of merit, or submit a claim to a medical review board before filing in court.
- Draft and File a Complaint. This should include the patient’s name, the names of all parties responsible, a detailed description of the incident including the harm that was caused, and the dollar amount that the patient expects to receive.
South Jersey Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. Represent Victims of Hospital Negligence
If you or a loved one suffered a medical injury as a result of a hospital error, you are urged to contact the South Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. as soon as possible. We have a proven track record of obtaining optimal settlements for our clients. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us at 856-354-9444 or contact us online. Our offices are located in Cherry Hill, Philadelphia, and King of Prussia, where we represent clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.