Do I Have a Medical Malpractice-Wrongful Death Case?

The scope of the medical malpractice problem.

Statistics vary dramatically on the number of medical mistakes that occur in the United States. Some studies place the number of medical mistakes in excess of one million annually while other studies place the number as low as a few hundred thousand. It is widely accepted however that iatrogenic disease (disease or injury caused by a medical mistake or medical treatment) is the third leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer. See, The JOURNAL of the AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (JAMA) Vol 284, No 4, July 26th 2000.

As an attorney who has limited his practice to representation of victims injured by someone else’s negligence, medical or otherwise, I have received thousands of calls from prospective clients over the last 20 years asking me if they have a medical malpractice case. Since medical malpractice litigation is very expensive and very protracted the lawyers in our firm are very careful what medical malpractice cases in which we choose to get involved. It is not at all uncommon for an attorney, or law firm to advance litigation expenses in excess of $100,000.00 just to get a case to trial. These expenses are the costs associated with pursuing the litigation which include expert witness fees, deposition costs, exhibit preparation and court costs. What follows is an outline of the issues, questions  stroke rehabilitation and considerations that the lawyers in our firm consider when discussing with a client a prospective medical malpractice case.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical Malpractice is medical treatment that breaches of the “Standard of Care” for medical doctors (or nurses, chiropractors, dentists, podiatrists etc…) which results in an injury or death. “Standard of Care” means medical treatment that a reasonable, prudent medical provider in the same community should provide. Most cases involve a dispute over what the applicable standard of care is. The standard of care is usually provided through the use of expert testimony from consulting doctors that practice or teach medicine in the same specialty as the defendant(s).

When did the malpractice happen (Statute of Limitations)?

In Ohio the medical malpractice statute of limitations is one year from the date of the malpractice, or the last date the defendant treated the plaintiff (victim) or the date the plaintiff discovered or reasonably should have discovered the malpractice. Some states have a two year statute of limitations. In Ohio if the victim is a minor the statute of limitations will not even begin to run until the minor becomes 18 years old. Be advised however derivative claims for parents may run many years earlier. If you think you might have a case it is important you contact a lawyer soon. Irrespective of the statute of limitations, doctors relocate, witnesses disappear and memories fade. The sooner counsel is engaged the sooner important evidence can be preserved and the better your chances are of prevailing.

What did the doctor do or fail to do?

Simply because a patient does not have a successful result from a surgery, medical procedure or medical treatment does not in and of itself mean the doctor made a mistake. Medical practice is by no means a guarantee of good health or a complete recovery. Most of the time when a patient experiences an unsuccessful result from medical treatment it is not because the medical provider made a mistake. Most of the time when there is a bad medical result it is despite good, quality medical care not because of sub-standard medical care.

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