Whether you visit your doctor’s office for a routine procedure or undergo a surgery at a nearby hospital, you should not have to worry about sustaining personal injuries caused by medical negligence.
However, medical errors occur much more often than most of us would like to believe. Indeed, according to a report from The Hospital Safety Score, hospital errors are currently the third-leading cause of death in our country. Many of these medical mistakes are preventable.
What is Medical Malpractice?
In New York, medical malpractice is a legal term that refers to a situation in which a doctor or other health care provider fails to provide the standard of care that a similar medical professional facing the same or similar circumstances would have provided, and the result is a patient’s injury or death.
The medical error can be something a physician did wrong, or it can be something that the physician failed to do. In other words, medical malpractice concerns mistakes that are both acts and omissions.
Many different kinds of health care professionals can be held liable for medical negligence, including but not limited to:
In short, almost anyone who provides medical advice, treatment or care can be held liable for injuries resulting from negligent behavior.
Common medical malpractice claims include:
Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis. Delayed or missed diagnoses are common causes of patient injury and death. This kind of error refers to a situation in which the health care professional fails to timely diagnose a condition such as cancer at a time when it could have been more effectively treated. It also refers to situations where a condition is improperly diagnosed.
Medication errors. This type of mistake can arise when a health care provider prescribes the wrong medication for a condition or provides a medication that can have harmful interactions with other medications the patient currently is taking.
Surgical mistakes. These errors can take many different forms, including situations in which a surgeon accidentally leaves an object such as a sponge inside a patient during surgery, punctures an organ during surgery or operates on the wrong body part.
Anesthesia errors. When an anesthesiologist administers the wrong amount of anesthesia or fails to take into account a patient’s medical history, for instance, serious injuries can occur.
Signs of Medical Malpractice
While it can be difficult to clearly identify signs of medical malpractice, the following situations may be indications that medical negligence has occurred:
Your treatment is not working. If you are currently being treated for a condition, but your treatment is not working, you may be the victim of a misdiagnosis. In cases of misdiagnosis, you are at risk of suffering additional injuries from a delayed diagnosis. In other words, if your doctor diagnosed one condition and is treating you for that condition, you may actually have another condition for which you are not being treated. Additionally, a misdiagnosis can mean that you experience harmful side effects from a medication you do not actually need.
Your symptoms do not correspond to your diagnosis. While you may not have medical expertise of your own, if you suspect that your symptoms are not common ones for the diagnosis you have been given, you may be the victim of a misdiagnosis. As we mentioned previously, a misdiagnosis can lead to long-term consequences – especially if you have a serious illness that requires immediate treatment.
You received two different diagnoses from two different health care professionals. If a patient is diagnosed with a serious condition or one that requires surgery, it is advisable to seek a second opinion. However, when you receive two entirely different diagnoses — from one health care provider to the next—you should consider whether one of those doctors has been negligent.
Your physician diagnosed your condition with results only from a lab test. Like hospitals and physicians, labs can make mistakes. As such, you have the right to ask questions about the results you receive from a lab, especially if you do not show any signs or symptoms of the condition diagnosed through the test results.
Your doctor does not give your concerns sufficient attention. When you are diagnosed with a condition or illness, it is important for your physician to provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your treatment and care. If your doctor seems rushed or is not taking your concerns seriously, you should be concerned about whether you are receiving the proper level of medical attention.
Timeline for Filing a Medical Malpractice
Many people wonder about how long it takes to file a medical malpractice claim in New York. It is important to be patient through the process, as certain steps can take longer than they would in other types of personal injury lawsuits.
In New York, you generally must file your medical malpractice claim within 2 ½ years from the date of the alleged malpractice. As such, it is important to speak with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.
An attorney can help to determine the merits of your case and to begin the process of filing a lawsuit, which involves the following steps:
Your lawyer will conduct a preliminary investigation. At this stage, your attorney will determine whether your case is likely to meet the elements of a medical malpractice claim under New York law. This stage typically requires a review of your medical records and consultation with a medical expert to help decide the validity of your claim.
Your lawyer will file a complaint, summons, and certificate of merit. At this stage, your medical malpractice attorney will certify that the facts of your case have been reviewed, and at least one medical expert reasonably believes that you have a valid claim.
Your lawyer (and the defendant’s lawyer) will conduct discovery. During discovery, both parties seek information to support their side of the case.
Once these steps have been completed, parties can engage in settlement negotiations or proceed to trial. As you can see, there is a special step in New York concerning expert certification.
A medical malpractice case cannot proceed until a medical expert — usually a health care professional who practices in the same area of medicine as the defendant — confirms that there is merit to your claim.
Consult with an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Albany, NY
For patients and their families, it can be difficult to know whether you have been the victim of medical malpractice. At Powers & Santola, LLP, we are committed to helping victims of medical negligence to seek compensation for their injuries. If you believe you were the victim of medical malpractice, we can help you to seek compensation for your injuries.
If you have questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to an Albany medical malpractice lawyer for more information. Contact Powers & Santola, LLP, today for more information about our services.