It’s common for victims of medical malpractice to not realize their injury was caused or exacerbated by medical error until long after. This is a reason why many people seek the services of Murphy Falcon & Murphy to lead thorough investigations when there has been an injury or death after a medical procedure.
If you believe you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, continue reading to find more information regarding medical malpractice claims and then, contact our office to schedule a free consultation with one of Baltimore's trusted medical malpractice attorneys today.
Types of Medical Malpractice in Maryland
Pursuing a medical malpractice claim can be very complex with several different areas to prove. There are a variety of types of mistakes that happen regularly in the medical profession, and if you feel you may have been a victim to malpractice and/or medical negligence, it's very important you seek the legal advice from a skilled medical malpractice attorney with a track record of success. When dealing with medical insurance companies and large corporations, a solid defense is vital to your case. The different types of medical malpractice claims include:
Misdiagnosis or Delaying Diagnosis.
Proper diagnosis can be delayed if a doctor doesn’t order the right test or doesn’t correctly interpret the results of the test ordered. By delaying the diagnosis, the severity of the condition is likely to increase. Not all results of the delay can be reversed, and, in some cases, the delay can lead to premature death. For example, many types of cancer are curable if they are caught and treated in the initial stages. If cancer is not diagnosed promptly or if it’s misdiagnosed, it can grow and spread to other parts of the body and reach a stage that’s incurable.
When a doctor prescribes a medication, the order is sent to the pharmacy and the pharmacist provides the medication to the patient, a nurse, or other healthcare provider. Errors in this stage can occur in many ways, including a pharmacist or nurse administering the wrong medication, wrong medication being ordered by the doctor, incorrect instructions printed on the medication label, patient is allergic to medication ordered, pharmacist fills order incorrectly, wrong medication is given to the client, incorrect dosage is given to the patient.
Lack of Informed Consent.
Doctors and healthcare providers are obligated to provide patients with sufficient information about a procedure or proposed care so that the patient may make an informed decision. A patient's ability to decide what treatment he or she receives is a fundamental right, and patients always have the right to refuse treatment—even if the doctor strongly believes that it is in the best interest of the patient. Informed consent should include information describing the procedures, indications for the procedures, the risks and benefits associated with the procedures, and available alternatives.
Every surgery has risks associated with it. Standards of care have been established for the specific purpose of minimizing risk and maximizing benefit. If these standards of care are not followed, surgical mistakes can occur. Examples of surgical mistakes include: performing surgery on the wrong part of the body or leaving foreign objects inside the body.
Defective or Mishandled Medical Equipment.
The purpose of medical equipment is to enhance health and safety for the patient. When a medical device is defective, it can impose the opposite effect and cause harm to the patient. It’s also possible for medical equipment that’s operating properly to be mishandled by the person operating it. Serious harm can result from medical equipment that’s used improperly.
Labor and Delivery Errors.
Childbirth should be a joyous time. Sometimes it can turn into a dangerous situation for mother and child. If a medical professional doesn’t properly diagnose a condition during pregnancy or fails to recognize signs of danger during labor and delivery, the mother and the child may suffer life-long debilitating effects. In some cases, one or both could die.
Misdiagnosis or Delaying Diagnosis (Cancer)
One of the many duties a doctor owes to his or her patients is to accurately diagnose a patient’s condition based on symptoms, medical tests, and procedures. Every physician undergoes significant education and training to diagnose conditions and must follow a certain protocol for doing so. Unfortunately, not every health care provider is as diligent as the profession requires. Misdiagnoses happen every year, causing patient health problems, worsened prognosis, and even preventable deaths. Cancer misdiagnosis is one of the most harmful and devastating experiences a patient can undergo – whether the patient does or does not have cancer.
If you or a loved one are dealing with the aftermath of a cancer misdiagnosis, Murphy Falcon & Murphy can help. The experienced attorneys at Murphy Falcon & Murphy have a successful history with misdiagnosis claims in Maryland and understand the resulting damages. Secured financial compensation can stem from medical procedures, physical & emotional trauma, pain & suffering, significant injuries, or death. Murphy Falcon & Murphy is not afraid to go up against the major players in the medical industry, including hospitals and insurance companies, to fight for your rights. Trust Murphy Falcon & Murphy with your claim and experience the difference a great team of lawyers can make.
How Might a Cancer Misdiagnosis Occur?
With an illness as serious as cancer, it can be hard to believe that physicians don’t check and double-check test results. This, however, is exactly how many misdiagnoses happen. A misdiagnosis can stem from a simple human error that should never have happened, such as the mislabeling of biopsy results or a mix up of patient files. Negligence is at the heart of most misdiagnosis situations – especially for serious, life-threatening conditions such as cancer.
The following are examples of actions that could lead to this mistake:
- Improper preliminary evaluation of the patient
- Ignoring medical history or patient complaints
- Ordering the wrong tests or not ordering the right tests
- Pathologist making mistakes during tissue biopsies
- Mixing up samples
- Technology malfunction
- Misinterpreting test results
- Failing to refer the patient to a specialist
- Misclassifying a cancer case
- Misjudging how and where the cancer has spread
There are several systems in place to prevent medical malpractice such as cancer misdiagnosis. When a doctor or other health care worker deviates from the system, takes shortcuts, or does his/her job negligently, accidents happen. For the courts to deem an action as “negligence” in a misdiagnosis case, the plaintiff must prove that a “reasonable and prudent” physician in a similar situation would have done something differently that would have prevented the mistake. The plaintiff must also prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed at the time of diagnosis.
What to Do About a Cancer Misdiagnosis
No matter which way the situation goes, a cancer misdiagnosis can be mentally stressful and emotionally traumatic. A doctor giving you a cancer diagnosis, only to find out moments prior to treatment that it’s not cancer at all, can be a whirlwind of emotions, unnecessary stress, and wasted money. A doctor failing to diagnose cancer that’s real can be deadly. It can cause a lack of life-saving treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy. Even if the doctor later makes a correct diagnosis, a cancer patient might have lost crucial weeks or months that might have made the difference in his or her prognosis.
If this situation happened to you in Baltimore, arm yourself with a results-driven attorney. The team at Murphy Falcon & Murphy can help you fight for maximum compensation for your emotional trauma and other losses relating to a cancer misdiagnosis. Whether you have cancer or not, you could be eligible for compensation if the defendant’s actions caused you preventable harms. Let us investigate your situation and find out if you qualify for financial damages. Talk to us about your potential case for free at our Baltimore office location.
Prescription Medication Negligence
Medication is prescribed for a specific reason because the patient needs it to produce the desired effect. Some medications are used to cure things, like antibiotics used to eradicate an infection in the body. Other medications are used for serious chronic conditions, like insulin for diabetics or blood pressure medication. Oral chemotherapy drugs may be prescribed to help kill cancer. Whatever the reason for the prescription, it’s important that the exact amount of the medication be used in the exact right way. If even one aspect of the criteria is wrong, there can be devastating consequences for the patient.
Many people are involved in the prescribing and dispensing of prescription medication. Doctors write the prescription, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians prepare the medication, pharmacy staff deliver the medication to the patient, and, in medical facilities nurses and medical technicians administer the medication.
At any stage in the process, there is the opportunity for multiple errors to be made. When a pharmacy makes a mistake, the patient may not know until it’s too late. Common errors made at the pharmacy include:
- Wrong medication. Very different medications can have similar names. Labels can be misread resulting in the incorrect medication being sold to the patient. The patient may not be familiar with the chemical name of the medication or what the medication is supposed to look like. Taking the wrong medication can be life-threatening or deadly.
- Incorrect dose. If the pharmacist doesn’t look carefully enough at the prescription, the wrong dosage could be supplied. Too little medication may not have the needed effect to cure or manage the illness. Too much medication could result in an immediate or future overdose.
- Inaccurate instructions. Instructions on how to take a medication and how much of the medication to take are essential to the safety and efficacy of the drug. Inaccurate instructions could prove fatal.
- Wrong person. Strangers who have similar names or dates of birth could end up with the wrong person’s medication. Family members in the same household could be given another family member’s prescription by mistake.
- Wrong warning label. Warning labels are important because they tell the patient which side effects need medical attention. They also let the person taking the medication know if it’s safe to drive or operate heavy machinery. Injury or death can occur if these instructions aren’t provided to the patient.
- Drug interactions. A patient may have different doctors prescribing medications for other ailments. The pharmacist who isn’t paying proper attention could miss that the drug prescribed isn’t safe to take another medication the patient is already using.
Mistakes and Negligence
Is a mistake negligence? Yes. Negligence doesn’t mean that there is malicious intent. To be negligent means that the person failed to carry out their duties properly. They may have had wonderful intentions, but the mistake they made is because they weren’t careful enough.
Pharmacists and pharmacies are bound by strict regulations. Standards and procedures must be followed to minimize the risk of errors. If you believe that yourself, or someone you love, may have sustained an injury due to a pharmacy error, it’s important to act quickly. There are statutes of limitation that could apply.
It’s important to hold accountable the people and company responsible for the error to protect other people they may harm in the future. The attorneys at Murphy Falcon & Murphy will assemble a team of experts to investigate and prove your claim, so you can receive the compensation you deserve. Schedule a free consultation to learn what your rights are.
Malpractice vs. Negligence
Medical malpractice may be a form of negligence, but the two terms do not mean exactly the same things in the eyes of the law. Below we explain the difference between Negligence and Malpractice.
Negligence refers to a lack of due care, inattentiveness, or a deviation from the reasonable standard of care for a situation.
Malpractice, on the other hand, specifically refers to standards of care between a professional and his/her clients, customers, patients, etc. Anyone can be guilty of negligence, but only professionals can be guilty of malpractice.
The Maryland courts define “malpractice” as the failure of a professional (of any kind) to act in accordance with the industry’s accepted standards. Malpractice can also refer to the failure to foresee the consequences of actions as a “reasonable and prudent” professional would have been able to do. If you aren’t sure whether you have a negligence or malpractice claim, ask yourself if the defendant was an on-duty professional who owed you a duty of care at the time of the incident
One of the elements you will need to prove for a malpractice claim is that a professional relationship existed between the medical professional and the plaintiff. For a claim against a doctor, for instance, you will need proof a doctor-patient relationship existed at the time of the alleged harm or wrongdoing. You likely would not have a case against a doctor who gave you advice at a cocktail party, but you would if you were a patient at his or her clinic. Malpractice could come down not only to the liability of the individual, but to a manager, supervisor, or employer as well.
Requirements for a Viable Medical Malpractice Claim
To be successful in a medical malpractice case, a patient must be able to prove four important elements:
- Standard of Care: The healthcare provider was required to meet a certain standard of care accepted in the medical community.
- Breach of the Standard of Care: The healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care in rendering medical services to a patient.
- Cause: The healthcare provider's breach of the standard of care directly caused actual injury to the patient.
- Damages: A patient must show the nature, type, and extent of his or her injuries, harm, and other damages.
More Information on Damages
A patient must also establish that a doctor-patient relationship existed when the negligent care was rendered. A doctor-patient relationship does not necessitate payment or a written contract, and is established any time a doctor examines a patient or provides treatment. The same principle applies to other health care providers who render medical services.
Harm due to medical negligence can take many forms, including pain and suffering, cost of medical bills, loss of earning capacity, and loss of the ability to enjoy life in the same way as prior to the injury. It is insufficient to simply show that harm occurred after a physician or healthcare provider was negligent. Harm must be shown to have resulted from a healthcare provider's negligence.
Proving a Doctor-Patient Relationship
If a doctor-patient relationship exists, then the doctor owes the patient a duty of care—the standard of care of a physician with similar training under similar circumstances would display.
Proving Harm Caused by Negligence
Did the doctor render care within the standard of care? Doctors must exhibit the same level of care and treatment that an average physician in the same role and circumstances would. If the offending doctor deviates from the standard of care, they endanger their patients and expose their hospital for retribution.
To prove that negligent care caused injury, one must reasonably prove that a doctor’s failure to uphold the accepted standard of care caused the patient harm.
Types of Damages & Compensation
Compensatory damages can be recovered for the non-economic and economic harm a patient endures due to medical malpractice. Economic damages include medical expenses, lost wages, the loss of earning potential, and other life-care expenses. Non-economic damages are more difficult to solidify but can include physical and emotional harm as well as physiological damage.
The court awards punitive damages when the defendant has committed an egregious act of wantonness or willful negligence that injured another. These damages serve as a punishment for the guilty party and acts as a warning for other healthcare providers to deter them for committing the same mistake. Doctors and hospitals may face punitive damages if they alter medical records after committing an error, fail to admit a mistake, and fail to treat obvious and serious illnesses.
Statute of Limitations on Malpractice Claims
An important question in medical malpractice cases is what is the statute of limitations. In Maryland, the statute is three years. A person has three years to bring a medical malpractice claim from the date of the injury, or from when the patient knew or should have known about the injury.
If for some reason, the patient is unaware that he or she was the subject of medical malpractice, the patient in Maryland has five years to bring a claim. If for some reason the patient discovers the injury, for example, five and a half years later, it's too late.
Therefore, it's very important if you think you have a medical malpractice claim to contact a Baltimore injury attorney immediately, investigate the validity of your claim and to file as soon as possible. Once the statute of limitation expires, there is nothing you will be able to do about it.
Evaluating the Cause of Medical Error
There are a variety of reasons that medical errors occur. Frequently, they are associated with:
- Poor record-keeping. Doctors can miss critical medical history details without careful record-keeping in place.
- Inadequate communication. Hospital, administrative, and medical staff all need to communicate about patient care.
- Understaffing. Hospitals and facilities can be chronically understaffed. Staff who are overworked are more likely to ignore proper procedures and cut corners.
- Fatigue. Doctors and nurses are required to work long hours. Fatigue can interfere with decision-making skills.
- Alcohol or drug use. The high-stress environment that medical professionals work in can increase the incidence of alcohol and drug dependency among staff.
Thousands of people die every year because of preventable medical errors. The attorneys at Murphy Falcon & Murphy understand that mistakes happen, but we also understand that medical professionals must be held to a higher standard because we put our lives in their hands. Although we can’t fix the mistakes that caused your personal injury, we can make sure that you get the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
What to Do If You Are a Victim of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice is a serious tort that can injure and kill unsuspecting patients. As a patient who might be the victim of medical malpractice in Maryland, it is up to you to protect your rights. Taking swift action against the alleged defendant is crucial. Reporting the physician and contacting a lawyer right away can ensure you do not miss any important deadlines or filing requirements. Take the following steps toward financial compensation if you believe you have a medical malpractice case.
Protect Your Personal Health
Put your health and safety first. Do not continue receiving care from the physician or healthcare center you suspect of medical malpractice. Switch physicians, making sure to migrate your health and treatment records. You do not need to tell your existing physician the reason for the switch. Your new doctor can act immediately to correct the medical mistake and get you back on track for proper treatment. A new doctor will protect your health while you spend time handling the rest of your medical malpractice case.
Follow the New Treatment Plan
Following your new physician’s orders is important for your health and wellness as well as to the outcome of your case. Make sure you keep copies of your treatment-related documents and prescriptions and provide them to your attorney if requested.
Building your case is something your lawyer can do, but it helps if you begin the process early on. Request copies of all your medical records from your previous doctor or healthcare center. Your records will have detailed information about the practitioners you saw and the treatment you received. Document your experience in as much detail as possible, keeping a record of who handled your patient care, what happened, and what you suspect went wrong. Describe your symptoms, injuries, or illness. The more information you document about your case, the stronger it will be later.
Start Learning Your Rights
As the victim of a preventable personal injury, you have rights in Maryland. Start to research these rights with help from a lawyer. Your rights as a patient include the power to expect high standards of care from your physician. A breach of duty of care, that causes injury, is grounds for a medical malpractice case. Also learn important facts about bringing a medical malpractice case in the state, such as your statute of limitations on filing. A conversation with one of our attorneys can help you understand clearly what your rights are.
Hire an Attorney
Once you have received the quality healthcare you need and collect information about your case, contact an attorney. Our Baltimore firm offers free, zero-obligation consultations so you can get the information and answers you need free of charge. We want to help you explore your rights and take action against the allegedly at-fault doctor or hospital. A lawyer can investigate your case, identify who may be liable, and help you preserve and collect key evidence. A lawyer can also take over communications with the defendant and his/her attorneys and an insurance company.
Focus on Your Health While Your Case is Underway
After hiring a lawyer, you will not have to worry about the legalities of your lawsuit. Your attorney will handle the legwork of your case while you focus on healing. You will not have to – and you should not – contact the allegedly at-fault doctor again. Your lawyer will handle all interactions with the physician and/or healthcare center on your behalf. This will ensure that your rights and best interests stay protected during the legal process. Contacting other parties involved could hurt your case, not help. You should also avoid posting about your injuries or lawsuit on social media.
Lawyers Specialized in Medical Malpractice
It is not easy to secure a settlement or judgment against a prominent Baltimore doctor or health care facility. You need a lawyer you can feel confident about representing you. Choosing the right lawyer for you and your case may take a few free consultations with prospects before making your decision. First, make sure the law firm specializes in medical malpractice. If it doesn’t, it might not have the experience or resources necessary for the best possible outcome. Then, look for the following signs of a top attorney:
- Past case results. Scan the firm’s website or the internet for evidence that the firm has won medical malpractice claims in the past. Search for results pages, client testimonials, or articles about the firm in the news. A history of success can prove the firm knows what it’s doing when it comes to medical malpractice claims.
- Positive reviews. While you’re searching through the firm’s background, look for signs that clients were happy with the way the firm handled their claims. Check for reviews and testimonials to see what to expect from the experience. Look for warm, honest, and personal attorneys who care about your case.
- Personal touch. No two medical malpractice claims are alike. Your lawyer should not take a turnkey approach to represent you. Instead, your lawyer should be able to create a personal, custom-tailored strategy for your case. Look for a boutique law firm with the time to dedicate to your case or a larger firm with plenty of personal attention.
We have resolved countless cases against hospitals, doctors, and other institutions that violated the rights of patients, including:
- $4 million in a birth injury case
- $7 million in a negligent fetal monitoring case
- $3.5 million for wrongful death in a police brutality case
- $34.3 million in a carbon monoxide poisoning case
- Multi-million dollar trust to children of a mother killed by surgical error
- Lifelong medical care secured for a patient who caught fire due to surgical negligence
Since 1948, Murphy, Falcon & Murphy has been a symbol to the communities of Baltimore that the law is able to work in their favor—that with the right attorney, the law levels the playing field between the largest institutions and individuals. That's a role that we have gladly held for more than 70 years.
Murphy Falcon & Murphy has everything you’re looking for in a suitable attorney and more. Our firm has helped medical malpractice victims throughout Maryland for over 70 years. We have a long history of successful case outcomes, a unique approach to litigation, and we truly care about each and every one of our clients. Find out why we’re right to represent your medical malpractice case during a no-cost consultation with one of our lawyers. We specialize in all types of medical malpractice claims, injuries, and wrongful death.
“These lawyers understand the world of medicine and physicians. They helped my family make sense of what happened, and helped us recover what was rightfully ours.” – Dana