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Medical Malpractice Attorney in Rochester, NY
Negligent medical errors can leave patients with serious injuries and even lead to death in some cases. If you or someone you love was harmed by a medical professional’s mistake, you are probably wondering whether you should bring a medical malpractice claim. If you have questions about your injuries and your options for recovery, an experienced Rochester medical malpractice lawyer can help.
Since 1987, Powers & Santola, LLP, has fought for justice on behalf of clients who have been seriously injured as a result of medical mistakes and other catastrophic accidents. Five of our attorneys have been repeatedly recognized by their peers in The Best Lawyers in America© for their excellence as medical malpractice lawyers. Three have earned recognition as Medical Malpractice Lawyer of the Year.
If you’ve been injured by medical malpractice, we’ll listen to you, review your case, and help you seek the compensation you need. If you have questions, we can help you find answers. For a free and confidential initial consultation, contact us online or call our Rochester law office.
Should I File a Medical Malpractice Claim in New York?
After medical procedures, some patients are unhappy with the results, but this doesn’t mean that the doctor’s actions rise to the level of medical malpractice. Surgeries can be extremely complex, and even with the best diagnostic tests, doctors may find unexpected problems that complicate the procedure. Doctors will have to adapt after beginning a procedure, and even the most skilled doctor may perform a procedure that has a bad outcome for a patient. There are no guarantees in medicine, but there are standards of care.
A standard of care is the level of skill and knowledge that other doctors in similar circumstances hold. That is the yardstick that the defendant is measured against, so it’s important to understand the applicable standard of care in your case. Once the standard of care is established, you can measure how your doctor performed, and whether there was a gap between the two. Before you bring a claim, it is worth getting second opinions, expert analysis, and as much information about your doctor and your injuries as you can.
Medical negligence cases can take a long time to resolve. Medical malpractice claims deal with complex records and standards of care involving advanced medical techniques and practices. Experts and attorneys will need a significant amount of time to review the case, and even then, the other side may not admit they’ve done anything wrong. Our Rochester medical malpractice lawyers can help.
An experienced medical malpractice attorney knows how to investigate your injuries and hold doctors accountable when they don’t live up to the standards that they should. If you’ve suffered injuries due to a negligent medical error, speak with a Rochester medical malpractice attorney about the next steps you should take.
By Advancing Their Skills, Can Doctors Cut Medical Malpractice Risks?
Unfortunately, medical malpractice still occurs far too frequently in the United States. Indeed, The Washington Post recently reported on a study that found that medical negligence is the third-leading cause of death in our country.
Clearly, doctors, nurses, and hospitals all must do more to protect the well-being of patients. One promising method that would help to achieve the goal of reducing medical malpractice risks is advanced skills training.
To understand how it is necessary to understand what medical malpractice is and why it occurs.
Why Does Medical Malpractice Occur?
Medical professionals have a legal obligation to provide their patients with adequate care. The failure to live up to that legal obligation is negligence or medical malpractice.
Medical negligence comes in a wide variety of forms. Doctors, nurses, and hospitals may all potentially be liable for negligence that leads to a malpractice lawsuit.
In some cases, medical malpractice takes place because the professionals involved are not properly prepared for a given situation. In other cases, malpractice happens because doctors or nurses feel rushed and try to take shortcuts. Specific examples of medical malpractice include:
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
- Surgical errors
- Medication-related errors
- Hospital negligence.
How Can Advanced Skills Training Help?
Providing high-quality medical treatment is not purely intuitive. Medical professionals are only as good as their training. Further, medical training must be an ongoing process. The simple fact is that science is constantly advancing forward, and ideas within the field are always changing.
Every year, many new diagnostic techniques and treatments are developed. Doctors and nurses must stay up to date on all of the advances within their profession. The medical strategies that worked 20 years ago may no longer be the best available practices today.
Patients have a legal right to receive medical treatment that is consistent with the current best practices. If doctors and nurses fail to provide this treatment, they are putting the health and safety of patients at avoidable risk.
Is Advancing Skills Especially Important for Diagnosing Conditions?
A proper diagnosis can save a patient’s life. Unfortunately, medical professionals may fail to make an adequate diagnosis even when they have the tools at hand to do so.
In fact, a study reported by LiveScience found that the failure to make correct and timely diagnoses is the most common reason why doctors are sued for medical malpractice. This is where advanced skills training can make the biggest impact.
Most medical conditions can be treated much more effectively if they are caught early on. For example, catching cancer early will dramatically increase a patient’s chance of making a full recovery.
However, delayed diagnosis of cancer remains a major problem. Medical professionals need to advance their ability to diagnose cancer and other medical conditions as early as possible.
With the advanced skills to make a proper early diagnosis, not only will doctors be able to reduce their risk of facing a medical malpractice claim, but more importantly, they will be able to save lives.
Getting Medical Workers to Wash Hands Remains a Challenge
Getting medical workers to wash their hands should not be an issue in the 21st century. The spread of infection and disease due to unsanitary conditions or lack of proper disinfecting techniques is a type of hospital malpractice that we should only equate with hospitals back in the 1800s or early 1900s – not the hospitals of today.
However, as a National Public Radio (NPR) story recently pointed out, getting medical workers to wash their hands between treating patients actually remains a very serious problem.
The NPR story focused on a doctor who, back in the mid-1800s, was briefly able to save lives by championing hand-washing. The doctor observed a much higher mortality rate in the male doctor’s ward as compared to the midwives’ ward among women who contracted childbed fever during delivery. Childbed fever, also known as puerperal fever, is an infection of the female reproductive organs usually contracted during childbirth.
The doctor determined that the primary difference was that the male doctors had been conducting autopsies in addition to delivering babies. As the male doctors did not wash their hands in between, they were likely transferring cadaverous particles from their hands to the mother’s uterus during delivery. This was, in turn, causing the increased rate of childbed fever deaths.
The doctor ordered all medical staff to wash their hands (and instruments) with a chlorine solution. As a result, there was an immediate and dramatic decline in the rate of childbed fever.
Hand-Washing is Key in the Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections
What that doctor found to be true back in 1846 is still true today. Hand-washing is a vital tool in the prevention of healthcare-associated infections. It can stop the spread of many communicable diseases and save countless lives. In some cases, whether or not a medical worker washes his or her hands can be a matter of life and death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 721,800 cases of healthcare-associated infections occurring in acute care hospitals throughout the U.S. in 2011.
The breakdown of infection was:
|Type of Infection
|No. of Cases
|Surgical site infections
|Other types of infections
|Urinary tract infections
|Primary bloodstream infections
Close to 75,000 patients lost their lives that year as a result of contracting a healthcare-associated infection during their hospital stay. Surveys conducted by the CDC went on to reveal that approximately one out of every 25 hospital patients will get a healthcare-associated infection.
New York’s 2013 progress report from the CDC revealed central line-associated bloodstream infections were 44 percent lower than the national baseline, and laboratory-identified hospital-onset C. difficile infections were three percent lower.
Unfortunately, surgical site infections (SSIs) from colon surgeries were 31 percent higher than the national baseline, SSIs from abdominal hysterectomies were 22 percent higher, catheter-associated urinary tract infections were 26 percent higher and hospital-onset bloodstream infections were one percent higher.
Hospitals Struggle to Get Workers to Wash Their Hands
You would think it would not only be mandatory but commonsense for medical workers to wash their hands before treating the next patient. However, as the New York Times reports, hospitals are still struggling to get their workers to do so. In fact, most hospitals workers wash their hands only 30 percent of the time, before interacting with a patient, according to the Times.
This is why constant encouragement, reminders, training, and rewards are necessary. For instance, one hospital in Long Island has gone to such extreme measures as to place motion sensors in each of its intensive care rooms. When the motion sensor goes off, a video camera goes on, and its feed is transmitted to a company that has staff watching the videos to check for only one thing – whether the medical staff are washing their hands.
If you or a loved one has contracted a healthcare-associated infection at an Albany or Syracuse hospital, which may have been caused by a medical worker failing to wash his or her hands, it will be important to contact an attorney and protect your legal rights.
Were You a Victim of Medical Malpractice in New York?
Medical malpractice claims are extremely complex. As such, it is normal to be unsure if you were actually a victim. If you suffered an injury or medical complications while in the hospital, or if you believe that a medical professional gave you any form of substandard treatment, you owe it to yourself and to your family to have your case investigated.
The following is a list of the four things you should do next.
Document your treatment.
To pursue a medical malpractice claim, you will need supporting evidence. If you suspect that you have been a victim of medical negligence, you need to begin documenting your claim and securing any records related to your treatment.
You should take notes about your condition and what you have been told by the medical professionals and healthcare providers responsible for your care. You should document everything as you never know what will be useful in the future.
Question your doctor.
In New York, patients have a right to “informed consent.” Medical professionals must adequately inform patients regarding the nature and extent of their treatment so that patients can make their own educated decisions.
Take advantage of this legal right by asking your doctor questions throughout the process. Your doctor has a duty to answer your questions honestly and in detail.
Seek a second opinion.
You also have a right to seek a second opinion regarding your medical treatment. If something feels wrong, do not hesitate to get the opinion of a second doctor.
You are not obligated to tell the other doctor that you suspect that you have been a victim of medical malpractice. Indeed, you are able to seek a second opinion merely for your own information.
Consult with a medical malpractice lawyer.
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will be able to review your case and assess whether you should move forward in the legal process.
If you have a viable claim, your lawyer will be able to comprehensively investigate the actions of all medical professionals and healthcare providers involved in your case.
Then, your lawyer will determine precisely what needs to be done to protect your legal rights and financial interests. As a medical malpractice victim, you may be entitled to substantial compensation.
Medical Malpractice Claims
Our Law Firm Handles
Powers & Santola, LLP medical malpractice attorneys understand what goes into building a persuasive and effective medical malpractice claim. With years of experience representing victims of negligent medical errors, we can build your claim and help you pursue the compensation that you need to move forward.
Our firm handles many types of medical malpractice claims including:
If you suspect you’ve been injured by medical malpractice, contact our Rochester medical malpractice lawyers for a free initial consultation. We’ll review your case and speak with you about your options. We’re proud to represent the people of Rochester and help them recover from medical malpractice.
What Compensation or Benefits Can I Recover in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
In New York, there are many types of compensation that may be available in a medical malpractice claim. These include:
- Compensation for medical costs and medical treatment. When a doctor or other medical professional commits medical malpractice, it’s easy for victims to be saddled with huge medical bills during their recovery. A medical malpractice claim can include the cost of treating the injuries that you suffered, and it can include the cost of treatment that your injuries will need in the future.
- Lost wages and future earning capacity. A failed medical procedure can leave you in worse shape than before. When you’re injured by medical malpractice, you may be out of work for a significant amount of time, or you may never be able to work again. A claim can include the wages and income you’ve lost as a result of your injuries, and it may include the income and wages you’ll lose in the future due to your injuries.
- Pain and suffering. Medical malpractice can result in serious pain and emotional trauma. Injuries inflicted during a procedure can last for years and can severely disrupt a victim’s life. Medical malpractice can also inflict serious emotional harm in the form of depression, anxiety, fear, and many other conditions.
- Loss of consortium. Medical malpractice can hurt the victim, and it can hurt the victim’s family too. Loss of consortium damages attempt to compensate for the loss of guidance, support, services, and loss of the relationship that the spouse of a medical malpractice victim suffers.
- Punitive damages may be available in rare cases where a medical professional’s conduct was egregious. In New York, it’s rare for medical malpractice injury cases to meet this standard, but it is possible. A medical malpractice attorney can review your case and help you understand if punitive damages may be available.
These and other damages may be available in your case. An experienced Rochester medical malpractice lawyer can help you build your claim and pursue the full compensation you deserve for all your losses.
Proving a Medical Malpractice
Case in New York
A medical malpractice claim in Rochester is built on medical records and expert testimony. However, all medical malpractice claims come down to a few straightforward parts. Any medical malpractice claim requires three essential elements:
- The medical practitioner was caring for the patient.
- The practitioner failed to meet the applicable standard of care.
- Because the practitioner did not meet the standard of care, the patient was injured.
In the medical profession, there are many times that a practitioner owes you a duty of care. For example, a surgeon who performs surgery on you is caring for you. A doctor performing an examination is caring for you. When a pharmacist fills your prescription, that pharmacist is caring for you. The medical provider’s duty will depend on the type of relationship you have with them, their specialty, and what they were doing at the time of the alleged malpractice.
In New York, the applicable standard of care for medical practitioners is that they must have a degree of knowledge and skill comparable to others in their field. This is a complex question in many cases. To determine the standard of care, experts may need to review your case, review procedure outcomes, and get input from specialists.
In many cases, patients already suffer from illnesses and advanced conditions that may come into play during a procedure. These pre-existing conditions may complicate a surgery or interfere with your outcomes. When pursuing a medical malpractice claim, you’ll need to show a direct link between the alleged malpractice and the damage it caused. Your testimony is important, but the case may also need the testimony of medical experts and others who can conclusively link the malpractice with your injury.
If you’ve been injured by medical malpractice, don’t wait to get the help you need. A medical malpractice lawyer in Rochester can help you understand what happened and how you may recover compensation for your losses. After an injury from medical malpractice, dedicate yourself to your healing and your recovery. Let an experienced Rochester medical malpractice lawyer handle your claim.
Contact Our Dedicated Rochester
Medical Malpractice Law Firm
When you’re injured due to medical malpractice, you may feel unsure of what to do next. The attorneys at Powers & Santola, LLP can advise you and guide you every step of the way. With years of experience representing medical malpractice victims, we have the knowledge and resources it takes to build a medical malpractice claim.
No matter how you’ve been injured, our experienced Rochester medical malpractice attorneys know how to investigate your injuries and pursue the compensation you need.
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