Pursuing a medical malpractice claim is challenging and can be overwhelming, which is why many choose to hire an attorney to help them navigate the legal process and secure a favorable outcome on their behalf.
At The Shrable Law Firm, P.C., our experienced medical malpractice attorneys in Americus, Georgia have the necessary expertise and skills to help you sue a negligent hospital and/or medical professionals and fight for the compensation you need.
Medical Malpractice in Georgia
The term “medical malpractice” is used to describe a situation in which a medical professional (e.g., nurse, doctor, physician, surgeon, dentist, etc.) fails to adhere to the appropriate standard of care when treating their patient, resulting in bodily injury or death.
The standard of care varies greatly in the medical community and encompasses a set of standards, procedures, and practices that are accepted by medical professionals in the same field of medicine. The assistance of a medical expert is often necessary to determine whether or not the medical professional who treated you violated the accepted standards of care.
Common Types of Malpractice
While there are many forms of medical malpractice, there are certain examples that are recurring subject of lawsuits. The following is a non-exhaustive list of common types of malpractice that can leave patients seriously ill or injured.
Disregarding or Failing to Take Appropriate Patient History
A doctor needs to be fully aware of a patient’s medical history before treating them, and the expectation is that they will take this information into account to design the best plan of care for the patient.
Unfortunately, doctors sometimes disregard patients’ medical histories and give them treatment that is dangerous for their preexisting conditions. Doctors might also prescribe medications that can have harmful interactions with medications that they’re already taking. This type of negligence can cause serious and even life-threatening health risks for the patient.
Failure to Diagnose
Medical providers are responsible for diagnosing medical conditions they know or suspect may be present in a patient. If a doctor fails to diagnose a condition, it could worsen without treatment and cause serious injury or illness. A doctor can be held liable for this negligence, but it typically requires that the victim prove that any reasonable medical provider would have detected and diagnosed the issue if they were in the same situation.
For example, if a doctor ignores test results that the average physician would find to be a cause for concern, further testing, or a diagnosis, then that doctor’s failure to diagnose may be due to negligence, and a patient could have a case against them.
In the same vein as failure to diagnose, a doctor misdiagnosing a condition could lead to injury or illness in the patient. For example, if a doctor mistakenly provides a misdiagnosis, then the actual, undiagnosed condition may worsen without appropriate treatment. Any treatment provided for the misdiagnosed condition might cause the patient’s actual condition to worsen.
If a reasonable, qualified doctor would have given the correct diagnosis in the same situation given the same facts, then it’s possible the misdiagnosis qualifies as medical malpractice. An Americus personal injury attorney can help gather the expert opinion of other Georgia doctors to determine if medical malpractice occurred.
Failure to Order Proper Testing
A doctor’s failure to order proper testing can also lead to illness or injury. If a patient comes in with presenting symptoms that should warrant certain testing, but the doctor fails to order these tests, that negligence could lead to undiagnosed, untreated conditions that could be serious or life threatening. A responsible physician will order any and all necessary tests to ensure that the patient is properly treated and cared for.
Our attorneys have connections with a network of medical providers who can give expert opinions on whether or not the proper testing was ordered, and whether the doctor displayed negligence by not ordering the tests that were needed.
Misreading or Ignoring Laboratory Results
Sometimes, the right testing is ordered, but the doctor fails to read the results correctly, causing them to misdiagnose a condition or to not give a diagnosis at all. More concerning, is when a doctor simply ignores test results that clearly indicate a medical concern, and as a result, they neglect to address a medical issue, causing a patient’s ailment to go undiagnosed and untreated.
As previously mentioned, a lack of treatment or the wrong treatment can result in serious negative health consequences for the patient. This type of medical malpractice claim has a strong chance of being proven, as the test results provide hard evidence of there being a cause for medical concern that was misread or disregarded.
When a patient is staying in the hospital, the treating physician has the responsibility of ensuring the patient is discharged at an appropriate time. If a patient is discharged before it’s medically advisable, they could suffer any number of complications without doctors nearby, and it may cost them their life.
For example, some women with preeclampsia during pregnancy might have extremely high blood pressure after the child is born. They must be kept in the hospital to receive medication to lower their chances of stroke and have around-the-clock access to medical care in the event of an emergency. If a doctor prematurely discharges one of these women, they could suffer a stroke and possibly die without medical care to help them.
A doctor has the responsibility to discharge a patient only when it is safe to do so. Any medical complications or injuries sustained as a result of premature discharge could be the negligent doctor’s liability.
Inadequate Follow-Up or Aftercare
Proper follow-up care with a doctor and aftercare are crucial to the healing process after an operation. It’s the doctor’s responsibility to ensure that a patient is fully equipped with the tools and knowledge to take care of themselves and their injuries post-operation or medical treatment.
If the doctor fails to inform the patient that they need certain follow-up appointments, or if they don’t provide the patient with the necessary aftercare instructions, a patient’s condition could worsen, or they could develop infections or other illnesses. A good doctor will provide these things, but a negligent one may not, which is a type of medical malpractice.
Perhaps the most well-known form of medical malpractice is surgical errors–it might also be the most reckless and negligent. Even with all of the technological and medical advancements, surgery is still risky. A doctor takes an oath to do no harm, but unfortunately, some make errors during surgery. These kinds of mistakes are preventable, but result in serious injuries, illnesses, or even death. If a doctor made surgical errors, you can fight for compensation in a medical malpractice case.
As mentioned, surgery is risky. No one should go under the knife if the surgery isn’t necessary, but some doctors will perform unnecessary surgeries that won’t help patients’ conditions and might even harm them.
Statute of Limitations
People who suffer harm as a result of negligent acts or omissions on the part of medical professionals should keep in mind that they have a limited amount of time to sue for medical malpractice. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for bringing a medical malpractice case is two years from the date when the patient suffered an injury or was killed due to substandard medical care.
However, Georgia also recognizes what is known as the “statute of repose,” which prevents plaintiffs from suing medical professionals for medical malpractice if the error was not discovered within five years.
The only exception to the statute of limitations and statute of repose is if there is a foreign object left in the patient (e.g., surgical sponge). In this case, a patient can pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit within one year of discovering the foreign object regardless of whether or not the statute of limitations or statute of repose has expired.
Basic Elements of Medical Malpractice Claims
Depending on the circumstances of the medical malpractice case, a plaintiff could potentially sue nurses, surgeons, dentists, doctors, physicians, and other medical providers. A hospital or another healthcare facility can be held vicariously liable for their employee’s negligence in medical malpractice cases.
However, in order to prevail in a medical malpractice claim in Georgia, the plaintiff must prove the following four elements:
- Doctor-Patient Relationship — The doctor owed the patient a duty of care.
- Negligence — The doctor breached the duty.
- Causation — The patient suffered harm as a result of the doctor’s negligence.
- Damages — The injury caused damages.
Georgia law requires any individual who files a medical malpractice lawsuit to file an expert affidavit. The affidavit is a document prepared and signed by a medical expert who is qualified to testify in a medical malpractice case. The expert affidavit must demonstrate proof that the medical professional breached their duty of care.
Potential Damages Available
There are three categories of damages that may be available to a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case in Georgia:
- Economic (special) damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and other quantifiable losses and expenses. There is no limit or cap on the amount of economic damages that can be received.
- Non-economic (general) damages, such as physical pain, loss of enjoyment of life, suffering, and other losses that cannot be objectively measured. Georgia statute limits the non-economic damages award to $350,000 in a single medical malpractice case.
- Punitive damages, which are only available if the medical professional’s conduct can be described as oppressive, wanton, fraudulent, malicious, willful, or showing reckless disregard for consequences. Except in cases involving the use of drugs or alcohol or those involving intentional harm or those, punitive damages are limited to $250,000.
Your Medical Malpractice Lawyer Handles Everything for You
Medical malpractice lawsuits have a lot of moving parts and can be complicated, but our expert Americus personal injury attorneys will handle everything for you. To prove the doctor caused or worsened your injuries due to negligence, you will need other medical professionals to give their expert opinions. We have relationships with a network of doctors who can help prove that a reasonable doctor would have acted differently and provided appropriate medical care.
It can be a lot of work to take account of every single damage you have suffered due to your injuries, because this also includes future damages for the rest of your life. We have years of experience calculating damages in personal injury cases and will create a list that sets it up for us to fight for the maximum amount of compensation available to you.
When you work with us, our goal is to win justice for your case while letting you focus on resting and recovering.
Medical Malpractice Attorneys Serving Americus, Georgia
If you or someone you love has suffered harm as a result of a medical professional’s negligence, contact us immediately. At The Shrable Law Firm, P.C., our medical malpractice attorneys have decades of experience representing patients and their families affected by medical errors in Americus, Georgia.
Reach out to us today at (229) 349-6291 to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation with an Americus medical malpractice attorney.