During a hospital, almost every aspect of a person’s existence is entrusted to the care of medical professionals. Eating, grooming, transportation and all other aspects of daily life are all dependent upon the assistance of hospital staff. This is in addition to all the medical, surgical, pain management, and mental health treatment that the patient is receiving in the hospital. Hospitals and their staff, therefore, have a high legal duty of care to meet in providing adequate treatment to vulnerable patients who are dependent upon their services to meet the most basic needs of life. If you believe that a hospital has been negligent in attending to you or a loved one, consult with a Clearwater medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. You have the legal right to be compensated for the pain and financial losses suffered as a result of substandard medical care.
The Legal Standard of Care, and Who is Liable For Hospital Errors
All medical providers are held to a legal standard of care with which they must treat their patients. This standard is that of the reasonably prudent professional of similar training and experience in similar circumstances. A doctor who fails to treat a patient as another reasonable doctor would in the same situation is negligent, and can thus be sued for medical malpractice. Doctors and surgeons are not the only medical professionals who can be found negligent. Nurses, nursing assistants, orderlies, transportation staff, and other employees can all be found negligent if they fail to perform their duties as a reasonable employee would in the same circumstances.
So who is legally responsible (“liable”) for compensating patients who are injured by the negligent actions of hospital staff? The staff member can be individually liable for his or her actions. Sometimes, it is prudent to pursue a claim against a doctor or surgeon individually, in order to seek compensation through malpractice insurance coverage. But most nurses, orderlies, and other support staff do not have such insurance coverage. In these circumstances, the hospital can be liable for the negligence of its employees. All employers can face liability for negligent actions committed by employees within the scope of their work duties. Hospitals are no exception, and as a result, their liability insurance policies cover the negligence of all employees – not just doctors or surgeons.
The Types of Errors Which Can Injure a Patient
There are many different types of mistakes and errors which can result in further injury or harm to a patient. Infection is a common – and often preventable – threat to patient safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately one of every 25 hospital patients has a healthcare-acquired infection on any given day in the United States. In 2011, approximately 75,000 patients with healthcare-acquired infections died during their hospitalizations. More than have of these infections occurred in an intensive care unit. When infections occur as a result of negligent treatment or sanitation practices, a hospital and its employees can be liable for damage which occurs as a result of the infection. A hospital can also be liable for failing to access information which would enable it to identify or prevent infections. For example, Futurism reports on a new algorithm which can predict a person’s risk of contracting Clostridium difficile – a potentially fatal healthcare infection referred to as “c-diff”. Nearly half a million people acquire c-diff infections every year in hospital settings across the United States. Approximately thirty thousand of these infected patients will die as a result of the infection. In order to study this massive problem, researchers created a statistical algorithm by compiling data from nearly four hundred thousand cases across the country. The research found that these algorithms could predict c-diff infection five days before a doctor could. Those five days can make the difference between life and death for a patient suffering from a c-diff infection.
Medical errors are also a disturbingly common problem in the American healthcare systems. A study out of the Johns Hopkins medical school found that medical errors should be ranked as the third leading cause of death in the United States – behind only heart disease and cancer. Unfortunately, it is difficult to calculate the exact number of deaths caused by medical errors with any degree of certainty. According to National Public Radio, this is because the coding system used by the Centers for Disease Control to code death certificate data does not adequately capture data on medical errors. Problems such as a breakdown in communications, diagnostic errors, and poor medical judgment are not reported in annual CDC death data. As a result, the Johns Hopkins researchers encouraged the CDC to immediately begin collecting medical error data in order to better grasp the problem, and bring attention to the need for change within the medical community.
But how do you know if an infection or medical error rises to the level of negligence? It can be difficult to know exactly how an infection was acquired, or all the possible factors which lead to a medication error. The determination of negligence is also highly dependent upon the facts of a particular situation. Whether a doctor or staff member acted as the “reasonable healthcare professional” would have in similar circumstances is a subjective determination. It is therefore important to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney about the facts of your specific situation. He or she will help you identify sources of liability, honestly, assess the strength of your claim, and help you file a claim with the appropriate insurance company. An attorney can also help you decide whether to accept a settlement offer or litigate your claim to a jury at trial.
Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys to Aggressively Defend Your Personal Injury Claim
Patients in hospitals have extensive needs, and hospitals have a legal duty of care to meet in rendering the services a patient needs. Failure to do so can lead to a finding of neglect or medical malpractice. Victims of medical malpractice have legal rights under Florida law. They are legally entitled to be compensated for all losses resulting from their injuries. The Dolman Law Group has decades of experience in protecting the rights of medical malpractice victims in and around the Clearwater area. Call (727) 451-6900 today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, aggressive medical malpractice attorney.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 3375