Surgeries and other medical procedures always carry risk, which is why doctors must obtain the patient’s informed consent before performing a procedure or embarking on a particular course of treatment. Informed consent means you are told the pros and cons of a particular decision along with alternatives, including doing nothing. Doctors cannot guarantee a positive result every time, but if something goes wrong, how do you know if it was just bad luck or the result of a grave medical mistake?
Doctors and hospitals capitalize on the fact that they have medical knowledge, and you do not. Rarely will they admit that a bad outcome happened because the doctor or someone on staff made an error. If something unexpectedly went wrong in your surgery or treatment, or that of a loved one, you owe it to yourself and your family to discuss the matter with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. At Scalli Murphy in Everett, we are connected with a network of medical experts who can review your records and form an opinion regarding whether the providers in charge of your treatment fell below the proper standard of care and injured you with their carelessness, negligence or incompetence.
Our Massachusetts medical malpractice team represents victims of the most common and most serious medical errors, including:
Misdiagnosis/Delayed Diagnosis – According to The BMJ, one of the most esteemed medical journals in the world, about 12 million people in the U.S. are misdiagnosed every year. Misdiagnosis is also the most common form of medical malpractice and the one responsible for more patient deaths and disabilities than any other. The frequency of misdiagnoses could be easily reduced if hospitals fostered better teamwork and training among their staff, utilized the latest technologies and implemented a system for reporting errors. Instead, doctors fail to accurately diagnose cancer, a heart attack, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, appendicitis and other conditions that go from treatable to terminal due to lack of a timely, accurate diagnosis.
Surgical/Treatment Error – Surgeons are perhaps the most highly educated and highly trained among medical professionals. They are thought of as perfect in their “surgical precision” so much so that, serious surgical mistakes are referred to by hospitals as “never events.” However, and unfortunately, “never events” happen every day. Surgeries get performed on the wrong side of the body and even on the wrong patient, and all-too-often surgical staff leaves sponges, clamps and other instruments behind when they sew up a patient after surgery. Surgical mistakes may be the fault of the surgeon’s negligence or incompetence, or other staff may be to blame. Simple procedures like double-checking charts and taking inventories could prevent many of these mistakes.
Medical Equipment/Device Defect – The FDA recalls medical devices every month, but often only after someone has already been hurt. Medical device manufacturers are responsible to thoroughly test their products before putting them on the market to make sure they are safe, but too often, they rush them through FDA approval or sidestep important quality control measures. Defective devices that have caused severe injury or death have included implantable devices that break apart inside the body, scopes that cannot be effectively sterilized between uses, monitors that deliver false readings, and electrical surgical or post-operative equipment that suffer power or software failures mid-use.
Medication/Prescription Mistake – Doctors, pharmacists and nurses have to take care when prescribing, distributing or administering medication. Prescription drugs number in the tens of thousands, and many have similar-sounding names or shapes, while others seem to accomplish the same purpose yet have wildly different side effects or interactions with other drugs. These challenges do not excuse medication errors; they only underscore the importance of diligence and care when dispensing medication. We help patients injured when given the wrong medication, wrong dosage or wrong method of delivery, such as oral versus injection, or intravenous instead of intramuscular injection.
Fighting Medical Mistakes in Massachusetts
Medical malpractice cases are typically more complicated than a motor vehicle accident or other personal injury matters, and not all personal injury attorneys are willing or qualified to accept medical malpractice cases. Before any medical malpractice case can go to trial, the plaintiff must first go before a pre-trial tribunal made up of a judge, a licensed physician and a lawyer. The plaintiff has to make an offer of proof to the tribunal, which determines whether a legitimate question of liability exists or the patient merely suffered an unfortunate medical result.
If successful in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the injured plaintiff can recover compensation in the following areas:
- Past or future reasonable expenses, such as surgeries, rehabilitation, prosthetics, nursing care, drugs and therapy
- Lost wages or loss of earing capacity and other past and future economic losses
- Pain and suffering, loss of companionship, embarrassment and other past or future general damages.
In most personal injury cases in Massachusetts, you have up to three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the negligent party. If you wait too long, you will not be allowed to bring a case and possibly get a jury verdict in your favor. Medical malpractice cases likewise have a time limit of three years from the date of the malpractice, with some notable exceptions. For instance, if the malpractice was not immediately obvious when it happened, you have up to three years from the date when the malpractice was discovered or could have been discovered. This exception is critical in many malpractice cases, such as a missed diagnosis of cancer or a foreign object left inside of a patient after surgery. These serious errors might not reveal themselves until years later when severe consequences start to appear. If you think you may have a malpractice claim, act promptly to make sure you do not miss any deadlines.
It is critical to know and follow the applicable period to be able to succeed on a claim.
Get the Right Kind of Legal Help After a Medical Mistake in Massachusetts or Anywhere in the United States
Our medical malpractice lawyers at Scalli Murphy Law are ready to consult on any case involving medical mistake and put in the time and effort necessary to build a strong, persuasive case that proves the doctor’s or hospital’s liability. For help recovering financial compensation after a medical mistake in Massachusetts or anywhere in the United States, call Scalli Murphy Law at 617-387-7000.