Many people place a huge amount of trust in their health care providers. When that trust is broken, they often do not know where to turn.
They figure that doctors, anesthesiologists, surgeons, and nurses spent years studying medicine—surely they know what they’re doing. And it’s true most of them are true professionals who are deeply passionate about medicine and healing.
But there are some who show a consistent pattern of recklessness. There are others who make honest mistakes. No matter what the cause, medical errors can have deadly consequences for patients.
When medical professionals deliver a substandard care level, and the patient is injured or killed as a direct result, it is called “medical malpractice.”
Frequency and Severity of Medical Malpractice Claims May Be Higher Than You Think
The incidence of these sad events is not few and far between. A 2018 Johns Hopkins study said that more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die every year from medical errors. Other studies say that the number might be as high as 440,000. Either way, medical errors are the third-leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer, according to the American Medical Association.
The cost to human life or health is more important than anything, of course, but there is a monetary cost as well. A study on medical liability pegs its total cost to the health care system at $55.6 billion annually or about 2.4 percent of total health.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can take many forms. Here are some examples of medical negligence that might lead to a lawsuit:
- Failure to diagnose
- A misdiagnosis
- Misreading or ignoring laboratory results
- Unnecessary surgery
- Surgical errors or wrong-site surgery
- Improper medication or dosage
- Poor follow-up or aftercare
- Premature discharge
- Disregarding or not taking appropriate patient history
- Failure to order proper testing
- Failure to recognize symptoms
The Most Likely Place for Medical Malpractice to Happen
There are dozens of ways that a patient can be injured due to their doctor’s poor level of care, whether in private practice or a major hospital. But it tends to happen more frequently in the hospital. Hospitals can be tense places, where the stakes are high, and decisions have to be made fast. Not only that, doctors working in hospitals can easily work 24- to 36-hour shifts, leading unavoidably to sleep deprivation.
In a 2017 article, one doctor said that “After a 36-hour shift, I fell asleep and began dreaming while walking home-repeatedly. It was a four-block walk.”
Sleep deprivation among doctors at hospitals is a major source of medical mistakes, but it’s not the only one. Healthcare professionals are human, and like everybody else, they are prone to making mistakes.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice
You don’t have an unlimited amount of time in which to file a medical malpractice suit. In New Jersey, there is a two-year time limit. Generally, injured parties must file a claim within two years of the accident, or in some cases, within two years of discovering that a medical error caused the harm.
Another way to say it is that a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two years since the “cause of action” occurs. The “cause of action” date occurs when the injured party becomes aware that the injury exists.
There is an exception to the two-year statute of limitations. New Jersey has a special rule for birth-related medical malpractice. These cases must be filed before the child’s 13th birthday.
Steps to take if you think you have a Medical Malpractice Claim
For a medical malpractice claim to be valid, three things must all be true: 1) there was a doctor-patient relationship, 2) the doctor’s negligence caused the patient’s injuries, and 3) the patient suffered damages because of the injuries. These damages, or losses, could include additional medical expenses, wages lost at work, etc.
Contact our Monmouth County Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today if You Need Help
If you can answer “yes” to the three questions above and believe you may have the basis for a possible medical malpractice suit, please contact Chamlin, Uliano & Walsh for an evaluation. Our experience with effectively representing people in these suits before the New Jersey courts is unparalleled. Still have questions? Speak to us today! Call 732-440-3950.