Do you have a Medical Malpractice Case?

Medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the US, the first two positions being taken by heart disease and cancer, as stated the Journal of the American Medical Association.  As per the Health Grades ‘Patient Safety in Hospitals’ study, about 195,000 patients die each year in the US from preventable in-hospital medical errors.  The largest number of patient safety and medical malpractice cases in the US relate to diagnostic errors.  The scenario seems scary, but if you compare it to the total number of patients treated in the same time frame, the numbers of patient safety malpractice cases become miniscule.  However, this statistic does not hold any meaning if you are one of those who have suffered due to medical negligence.

Do you think that you have a medical malpractice suit if your doctor or the hospital made a mistake during your treatment?  You may or may not – there is a lot more to having a medical malpractice suit than just a patient getting hurt.  Read on, to understand what is required to be proven and then fight your medical malpractice suit.

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is when your doctor or healthcare professional causes injury or harm to you by either doing or not doing an act during your treatment under them.  Medical negligence is needed to be established for filing of a medical malpractice suit.  The key factors involved are to show that the healthcare professional made a mistake and that mistake has caused you harm.  The key factor here is the ‘standard of care’.  Any action or inaction by the medical professional will be judged against the accepted standard.  This means that there should be a deviation from the general accepted methods used by other healthcare professionals to treat patients under similar circumstances.  This is important because the standards will differ from area to area, across different age groups and previous medical history.

Did the treatment cause further injury?

You may not like the doctor or the healthcare worker because he/she pushed you too hard in order to rehabilitate you or made a mistake by giving you the wrong medication one day.  But that is not enough to file a medical malpractice suit.  In order to be able to bring a medical malpractice suit against the healthcare worker, doctor or medical center, you need to prove that the mistake has caused you harm, injury or further damage.  You also need to prove that this damage is connected to the medical negligence inflicted on you.  In most cases, an expert witness is required to explain how the standard of care was breached and that this negligence is responsible for your injury.

Of course, some cases are easy to establish – the amputation of a wrong limb or the absence of an ‘informed consent,’ by the patient for a medical procedure, are two good examples.  So, in a nutshell, the requirements for filing a medical malpractice suit are:

  1. A violation of the standard of care
  2. An injury caused by this negligence
  3. The injury resulting in significant damages.

Examples of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice can take many forms.  Listed below are examples of some common medical negligence that may lead to a medical malpractice case:

  • Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis
  • Failure to recognize symptoms
  • Failure to order proper testing
  • Disregarding or not taking appropriate patient history
  • Misreading or ignoring laboratory results
  • Improper medication or dosage
  • Unnecessary surgery
  • Surgical errors or wrong site surgery
  • Poor follow-up or aftercare
  • Premature discharge


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Medical Malpractice – Healthcare Centres in the Ambit

It took multiple tests and consultations, before Jim Jarrell decided that he would undergo the surgery as advised by Dr. Kaul.  Jim assured his wife that everything would be okay, but deep down, even he was a bit scared – after all a spinal fusion surgery was not something that everyone went through.  But, post surgery, Jim and his wife’s worst fears came true.  The surgery went wrong and Jim sued Dr. Kaul for medical malpractice.  However, the case took a different turn in court.

The laws of New Jersey, requires all physicians to have malpractice insurance coverage of at least $1 million per coverage.  During the course of the trial, it was found that although Dr. Kaul did have malpractice insurance, his policy specifically excluded spinal surgery.  The court ruled that although Jim did not have a case against Dr. Kaul for failing to meet the malpractice insurance cover, the claim for underlying malpractice would stand.  However, the court held that Jim had a ‘negligent hiring’ case against the hospital.  The court stated that the hospital was liable for giving credentials to a doctor who did not comply with the statutory malpractice insurance requirement.

On September 29, 2015, the jury awarded damages of $750,000 to Jim for his botched up surgery.  This ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court now makes a health facility liable for medical negligence of any medical staff member; provided that the concerned staff member either does not have the statutory malpractice insurance or the insurance does not cover the treatment that was advised or performed.

This ruling has now put the onus of providing physicians with the proper malpractice insurance coverage on the health facility.  The health facility has to be sure that they provide credentials only to those medical staff members who carry appropriate malpractice insurance coverage – failing which, the facility will find itself liable to fund the shortfall, in case any of their medical staff is sued for malpractice and is unable to cover the amount awarded by the court.

The principal objectives of the U S medical malpractice system are to deter healthcare providers from negligent practice and to compensate the patient in case of injury through such negligence by the medical staff.  By making the medical facility also liable to pay up in case of a shortfall, the court has ensured that these medical facilities are now more circumspect in providing credentials to their staff.


  1. Kessler, D. P. (2011, October 17). Evaluating the Medical Malpractice System and Options for Reform. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from U.S. National Library of Medicine:
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Lawsuit over Birth Injury

Mary was admitted to the hospital on September, 2012 with premature rupture of membranes.  At that time she was 31 weeks and 6 days into her pregnancy.  Her attending obstetrician performed an ultrasound on the same day and calculated that the amniotic fluid index was 5.93 cm.  The obstetrician advised hospitalization and to proceed with labour in case there were any signs of infection.  According to the records, his admission instructions included bed rest, azithromycin to be administered orally; amoxicillin given intravenously, magnesium sulphate and steroids.

Another ultrasound conducted on September 18, estimated the amniotic fluid index at 3.2 cm and the foetal weight at 2,120 grams.  On September 20, Mary started her contractions.  On the following day at around 9 in the morning, her attending obstetrician ordered Pitocin stimulation to be started. A few hours later, the obstetrician took over care of her labour and ordered the Pitocin to be held at midnight for two hours and restarted at one-half strength.  On September 22, at 8:40 in the morning, he ordered that the Pitocin could exceed 20 milliunits if required.

At 1:20 in the afternoon, Mary gave birth to a baby girl.  According to the Delivery Summary, the labor lasted 39 hours and 30 minutes.  Out of this, Stage 1 lasted 39 hours and 5 minutes.  Unfortunately, the child was born in a critical condition, with Apgar scores recorded as 1 at one minute, 2 at five minutes and 4 at ten minutes.  The infants head was molded and there were bruise marks on it.  Early in the morning on September 23, the baby was airlifted to another hospital where brain imaging revealed diffuse hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.  Placental pathology showed presence of acute chorioamnionitis.  While Mary was discharged from the hospital on September 23, 2012; the baby could only come home on October 9, 2012.

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is caused by the lack of oxygen and is one of the most common types of brain damage.  This often results in cerebral palsy.  Causing developmental problems, motor impairments or cognitive delays, the severity of the problem can only be determined when the child is 3 to 4 years old.  Although an infant’s body can handle short periods of depleted oxygen, the brain tissues get damaged or destroyed if the depletion lasts for a long time.  Neonatal asphyxia is one of the leading causes of death in newborns.  Though it commonly occurs in full term babies, premature babies are also impacted by it.

Mary’s discharge summary was dictated on February 21, 2013, approximately five months after her discharge from the hospital.  According to the records accessed, her discharge summary included notes like “was kept busy with different videos,” ‘she did quite well at the hospital,” “delivered a healthy baby girl” and “the baby was doing very well in the nursery”.   However, Mary’s little 3 years old girl has cerebral palsy and is permanently injured.

Mary has filed a birth injury lawsuit against the obstetrician and the Kansas hospital, where she delivered her baby.  One of the most important aspects of the lawsuit is that Mary is and was legally blind at the time of her admission to the hospital.  There are no signatures on the Consent to and Conditions of Admission to the hospital.  Her lawsuit includes two causes of action – one regarding the consent and the other of medical negligence against both the doctor and the hospital.


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  4. Woods, L. (2015, October 08). Mother Accuses Hospital, Doctor of Birth Injury Malpractice. Retrieved October 12, 2015 , from BIRTH INJURY:
  5. Yoo, S. (2014, July 08). Lawsuit over birth injury: Misfortune or malpractice? Retrieved October 12, 2015, from Statesman Journal:

Lacking Medical Malpractice Insurance? You may Invite Trouble

As per a recent ruling by the New Jersey High Court, an injured patient did not have the right to sue the surgeon who had made errors while putting screws in his foot.  This is because the practitioner had no medical malpractice insurance in place.  This case is of James Jarrell, who, suffering from a lumbar disk (herniated) condition, had undergone a spinal fusion procedure.  The operation was performed by a board-certified anesthesiologist, Richard Kaul; in 2005, at the Market Street Surgical Center.  In a split ruling, the Supreme Court of New Jersey held that a medical expert, who lacked malpractice insurance, either partially or totally, should not be disciplined in court.  It was the state medical board’s responsibility to take such a physician or other health care provider to task.

Moreover, the NJ High Court also ruled that the medical facilities hiring such doctors (or allowing them to carry out their surgeries in their establishments) had to take more care while dealing with medical professionals.  If such facilities failed to perform adequate due diligence with respect to their doctors being covered by a line of credit, or insurance, they could be sued.

Well, with medical malpractice insurance becoming the new buzzword, it’s time to know the ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ of the same.  Take a look.

The Umbrella of Medical Malpractice Insurance

As a medical practitioner, you know how impossible it is to be too safe in the healthcare industry.  Cases pertaining to wrongful death, hospital negligence or poor standard of care are galore.  Regardless of your designation, your performance impacts the lives of your patients, and on a daily basis.  Because of this, medical malpractice insurance becomes a necessity for all healthcare professionals like you.  It can be obtained in the form of coverage via a professional insurance company, or your employer, or both.  So, even if you are already covered, or are planning to get the insurance soon, you need to have a fair idea about how to get this coverage, the reasons why you must be covered, and your eligibility for insurance, etc.  You would not like to be trapped in a case pertaining to medical negligence, would you?

Medical Malpractice Insurance – What is it?

Oft referred to as “Professional Liability Insurance,” medical malpractice insurance has different policies to its credit.  Yes, it covers professionals in this field with different things, even the quality of care meted out their patients.  These include:

  • Coverage for all claims
  • Aggregate coverage that encompasses all claims
  • Coverage of the costs of defending yourself
  • License protection
  • Deposition representation
  • 24-hour coverage on insurance purchased by yourself

Some insurance companies may also allow coverage for:

  • Personal liability coverage
  • Personal injury coverage
  • Coverage of third party property damages
  • Medical payments
  • Assault coverage

Different kinds of Insurance for Medical Malpractice

‘Claims made’ and ‘Occurrence’ are the two main types of covers for malpractice.

Occurrence coverage, though rare in contemporary times, is for incidents taking place during the policy period, regardless of when their claims are reported.  Say, you had occurrence coverage in the period 1995-1996 and a claim was reported as of yesterday for an incident that took place in June of 1995 – you would still be covered by your employer (or the insurance agency) with whom you were linked up at that time.

On the other hand, the ‘Claims Made coverage’ is commonly provided by both insurance companies and employers.  Here, the incident should take place, and be reported to the right channels, in the period in which the policy remains in force.  The end of the policy brings the coverage to an end too.  So, taking the above example forward, to be covered under this kind of insurance, the claim had to be reported in June 1995 (or within the time of expiry of the policy) when it occurred.

Are you Eligible for Medical Malpractice Insurance?

Oh yes, you are!  In fact, all healthcare professionals are eligible for the medical malpractice insurance.  There are different kinds of coverage for different job titles: physical therapists, physicians, nurses, and so forth.  As the coverage provided by employers may not cover all job profiles, it is a good idea to purchase insurance after looking at all the terms and conditions that apply to you.

Benefits of Getting Medical Malpractice Insurance

Buying additional insurance is a smart move if you happen to have employer coverage. Did know that most employer-based malpractice policies will rarely cover their healthcare workers 24 hours a day?  Any extra coverage will go a long way in protecting you when you are serving as a Good Samaritan or offering casual advice in your capacity as a surgeon, physician, nurse or therapist.  In case you get tangled in a lawsuit, personal coverage comes into play when the incurred legal costs exceed the amount covered by your employer’s policy.  It also comes in handy when you are sharing your employer-based insurance cover with co-workers.

Getting Medical Malpractice Insurance is Easy

If your employer has not provided the coverage, then, go ahead and buy your own medical malpractice insurance from a physician-run or private insurance company.  The cost of getting insurance can be determined by:

  • Hospital admitting privileges
  • Selected limit of liability
  • Kind of medicine practiced
  • The type of medical procedures performed
  • Closeness to major city hospitals
  • Prior claims history
  • The time duration of your medicine practice, and so forth.

Your medical malpractice insurance covers you in more ways than one.  So, quit procrastinating, and get yourself insured if you are not under the umbrella of protection yet!


  1. Asbury Park Press. (2015, September 30). NJ: Doctors don’t have to disclose they lack insurance. Retrieved October 2, 2015, from Asbury Park Press:
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Medical Malpractice: Ripples in the Minds of Physicians and Patients

Last year, in Alabama, A Walker County jury awarded $4 million to a widow.  She claimed that her husband had died due to the negligence of a medical expert who had mistaken a heart attack for stomach ache symptoms.

The charge sheet stated that an emergency department (ED) medical expert at the Walker Baptist Medical Center was supposed to take more care.  The steps taken in investigating the heart condition of the 40-year-old patient, before releasing him within a few hours of being hospitalized, were not enough.  Just after a few days of his release, before he could tell his wife to dial 911, the patient had fallen clutching his chest.  He could not be revived after reaching the hospital.  As no blood tests for ischemia or cardiac damage were prescribed by the physician on his earlier visit, it was put forth by the family’s attorney that the appropriate standard of care was not in place.  According to the attorney, more action was necessary to rule out any cardiac problems.

Ripples Reach the Patients

Many such cases of hospital negligence make you chastise the physicians who allow such accidents to take place – right?  There are others that make you cringe and say, “Oops…I was indeed lucky. I faced a similar situation.”

It is a known fact that health care providers do make medical mistakes in the form of unavoidable errors, understandable misdiagnosis, lack of attention, poor quality of care, or mere carelessness.  It is patients like you who end up suffering the brunt of their errors.  Be it in the form of personal injury, medical negligence or wrongful death, there are many fears that make one think twice about getting hospitalized, or seek an appointment with a specialist.  But then, is there any way out?

Fear Factor: Medical Malpractice

Today, the threats and challenges of being sued for malpractice linger in the mind of medical practitioners—and for good reasons too.  Heart attack, stomach ache, or a simple fracture – it is now important for physicians and medical experts to be doubly sure before signing on the discharge slip of their patients.

The New England Journal of Medicine has published a study that reveals how 99% of physicians — placed in the “high-risk” specialties category — have been involved in a case at some point in their career.  There are innumerable surveys that show how medical experts in the “low-risk” specialties group also have a strong chance of being sued, at least once in their entire career.  There’s small comfort in knowing that two thirds of such claims have been either dismissed or dropped.  According to an American Medical Association report, 90% of the time, it’s the physicians who prevail when a medical malpractice case goes to trial.

Impact of Medical Malpractice Cases

Though you may be thinking otherwise, do know that it is indeed agonizing for a doctor to know that his care has caused some kind of injury to a patient.  Along with facing a strong threat to his reputation, the physician may have to deal with challenging financial risks.  He also needs to address various issues while practicing/interacting with future patients.

Over the years:

  • There have been innumerable cases that rank high on the list of largest settlements or verdicts in the nation’s history.
  • Doctors have been summoned hundreds of times and have also faced state disciplinary actions for their misdoings.
  • In almost every state, malpractice cases tend to take at least 4 years to reach their conclusion from the time of alleged negligence.  Some cases have taken 10 years to gain a resolution – a long, traumatic phase for patients and doctors alike.
  • Basic risk-management failures have often been the cause behind the filing of such lawsuits.  Absence of adequate documentation, miscommunication among nurses and physicians, non-essential delays in recommending patients to specialists, follow-up failures, and so forth, are just a few common reasons why patients have sued their medical experts.

Although there are some positive changes in the malpractice climate in recent years, the fear of being victimized, and sued, still persists.  We can just hope that physicians steer clear of the reasons that put their patients into trouble, and avoid getting sued.


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Shades of Medical Malpractice that you Should know Too

Shades of Medical Malpractice that you Should know Too

It’s no longer a hidden fact.  The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published a study that states that medical negligence is the next leading cause of deaths in the United States, just after cancer and heart diseases.  In 2012 alone, more than $3 billion was distributed as medical malpractice payouts, with a shocking average of one payout every 43 minutes!  Now, if that is not concerning, what is?

Read on for certain troubling trends in medicine and learn how you can lessen your risks of medical malpractice or hospital negligence.

How is medical malpractice defined?

Common cases of medical malpractice are known to occur when a physician deviates from the benchmarked ‘standard of care’ with regards to a patient’s treatment. The standard or ‘quality of care’ refers to all that a medically prudent health expert would do (or not do) when placed in similar or same circumstances.  In a nutshell, it points towards the intent of the health provider, and whether (or not) he has been negligent in the approach towards his treatment regime.

You have been unlucky enough to face negligent care? What do you do?

You may like to get in touch with a malpractice attorney straightaway. All case details – including the acts of securing relevant medical records to pertinent statements given by your caregivers– are to be reviewed for determining if legal action can be taken on the case.  It is also essential to have a fair idea about the statutes of limitation applicable to the state in which you reside.  These regulations confirm the time frames by which your case can be permanently barred or filed.  All procedural requirements, related to the location where the malpractice allegedly occurred, have to be understood too.

What determines if one is prey to medical negligence?

There are strong grounds for a malpractice claim in case the negligence of a medical expert results in damages, personal injury or the wrongful death of a patient. But then, a bad outcome may not always be proof of negligence.  On some occasions, a medical expert may inform his patient that a previous health care provider is responsible for offering negligent medical care, and/or that the patient has himself to blame for the mistake.  Future claims may be prevented with a quick, earnest “apology” or the opportunity for reaching a settlement, sans any litigation.  Patients with documented injuries and damages in their records have substantial and justifiable cases for attracting legal recourse.

What steps can you take to lessen the probability of experiencing medical malpractice?

Take a proactive approach, especially in the areas in which medical care is concerned. Indulge in research to gain further knowledge about your health condition and keep track of all symptoms.  Also, ask questions from your ask health care provider and ensure complete and full answers, even if you have to demand them.  There is absolutely no need to be intimidated by your physician or the prevailing medical system.  Advocate and speak up –after all, it’s about your well-being.

However, even as you take positive steps to place yourself on firmer grounds, trust your nurse or doctor – there are very few out there who are convicted of medical negligence or malpractice in the end!

Has the malpractice climate changed in the last two decades?

Well, regardless of what the proponents of “malpractice” and “tort” believe in, or argue about; the truth is that medical-malpractice claims are surely on the decline. Now, many states have substantial limits on the extent of damage awards, especially in relation to medical-malpractice claims.  The award limits defined by the authorities have impacted patients with future medical needs and catastrophic injuries gravely.  Those who fail to get justice are left with no other option than to depend on health insurance or public programs such as Medicare or Medicaid for taking care of their future medical bills. This in turn shifts the overall expense of medical malpractice onto the public, instead of making the responsible party pay.

Why do many legitimate medical-malpractice cases do not see the light of day

There are many reasons why patients prefer not to pursue their medical-malpractice claims, even though they may be valid. While some harbour the concern that doctors would not treat them or decrease the levels of ‘standard of care’ in future; others incorrectly believe that they will end up paying a lot more on their medical bills.  Again, there are many distraught patients who chose to opt out because of the perceived financial and personal costs linked with litigation.

Indeed, there are many troubling issues that place you on shaky grounds when you have to resort to medical care.  A bit of care, proper research, and the right approach, will help you pass your difficult times without getting into the tangles of malpractice. Think about it.


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Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury and Wrongful Death

Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury and Wrongful Death

You never see them coming.  But still, they leave you injured, or without a loved one.  Be it a case linked to medical practice, personal injury or wrongful death, they all see you distraught and reeling; mostly as a result of someone else’s negligence, wrongful conduct, or carelessness.

And then……along with grappling with unprecedented financial woes, medical conditions, grief of bereavement, and many other aches and pains, you start looking for help.  Here, we help you take a quick peep into what’s true with regards to these situations.

Medical Malpractice

In the US alone, medical malpractice serves to be the cause of thousands of deaths each year.  Yes, more and more people being permanently or seriously injured because of malpractice by hospitals, medical experts, or doctors.  Any serious misdiagnosis, medical accident, or medical fault on their behalf may lead to surgical error, injury, loss of life, medical errors, or other medical malpractice issues.

Medical malpractice – it usually refers to an act or omission by a physician or medical professional while treating a patient, in a way that the results deviate from the accepted/established/referenced norms of practice prevailing in the medical community.  A specific subset of the prevalent Tort Law that handles professional negligence, medical malpractice is different from medical negligence (though used interchangeably), and is treated differently by the law.

To explain this further, if you are a victim of medical negligence then you have been deprived of essential and proper healthcare.  Or, the standard or quality of care meted out to you has not been adequate enough.  Although it’s an integral part of the same, negligence on its own cannot be defined in the same category as that of medical malpractice.  In a nutshell, to gain legal recourse, or to be compensated for medical malpractice, a physical, mental or financial damage/injury of any form needs to take place.

Personal Injury

Sudden accidents or serious injuries may bring about substantial alterations in your life.  They have serious personal consequences too.  For instance, the negligence of another may bereft you of a limb, or the life of a loved one.  While grieving such traumatic losses, you may have to face many other problems such as those related to medical bills, lost wages, and other forms of economic support.  These are the last things that you might want to face at this stage, but do you have a choice?

Be it for vehicular/pedestrian accidents or injuries caused by defective products, or more, you may be entitled for a compensation for:

  • Mental anguish.
  • Funeral expenses.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Medical bills.
  • Loss of companionship.
  • Lost financial support that you may have received from your loved one.

With adequate actions and thoughts in place, you may negotiate a fair settlement.  You just need to have a serious discussion with the at-fault party and/or their insurance company.

Wrongful Death

The wrongful death law is applicable in those tort cases where hospital negligence, standard of care, or the conduct of a medical expert results in the death of a person.  Here, the laws deal with compensating the survivors, and not the deceased.  The claims in question help those left behind recover from emotional, financial and other support that the victim may have been contributing during his lifetime.

Such claims are commonplace in negligence, medical malpractice, and automobile accident cases; especially where the concerned party has been careless enough to cause harm or accident to the victim.  Wrongful death may also be caused due to intentional conduct (for instance, homicide), unsafe pharmaceuticals, defective products, or other situations that involve strict liability.

Whatever the situation, the agony caused to the victim, or his/her survivor is difficult to be compensated by monetary claims alone.  Hmmmm…..the created gaps are indeed many, and take a long time to heal.


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