Patients depend on doctors and other medical professionals for their health and well-being. When a patient puts their life in someone else’s hands, they deserve to receive the best possible care and treatment. Too often, however, patients find themselves the victims of medical negligence when doctors, hospitals, or medical professionals deviate from the recognized “standard of care” in treating a patient.
Medical negligence on the part of health care providers is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Harvard researchers have estimated that one out of every 25 patients is injured by medical professionals. It has been estimated that more than 225,000 patients die each year from medical malpractice. Studies have shown that the majority of these deaths were easily preventable.
When a medical error that should have been avoided occurs and causes a patient injury, it is medical malpractice. Like all other professionals, doctors and nurses should be held accountable when their negligence causes harm. Unfortunately, due to overzealous “tort reform,” successful lobbying by insurance companies and a handful of well-publicized frivolous lawsuits, medical malpractice cases have become increasingly difficult to win.
Types of Medical Malpractice in Texas
Although medical malpractice can take many forms, some of the more common examples include:
- Diagnostic errors, including the failure to obtain an accurate patient history, misdiagnosis or the failure to diagnose an injury or illness, and the failure to order necessary tests in order to obtain a proper diagnosis
- Surgical errors, including anesthesia errors or leaving medical equipment in a patient’s body
- Misreading or misinterpreting of X-rays, echocardiograms, CT or MRI scans, lab results, etc. which can lead to medical errors or incorrect medical treatments
- Medication errors, including administration of the wrong dose, pharmacy errors, prescribing contraindicated medications, incorrect prescriptions, drug interactions, or preventable overdoses
- Treatment errors, including delays in treatment and unnecessary medical procedures
- Failures to communicate among health care providers, which can lead to misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, and failure to perform necessary tests and medical procedures, all as a result of a failure to coordinate medical care
- Preventable infections during medical treatment or hospital care
- Defective medical equipment used during surgery or other procedures
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Filed on Behalf of Patients
Thousands of patients who have been injured by the negligence of their doctor or medical caretakers have filed malpractice lawsuits. Many lawsuits have also been filed by family members whose loved ones died as a result of mistakes or preventable errors during medical treatment. About 25% of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in the U.S. involved the death of a patient, according to researchers at Harvard University.
In addition to compensation for wrongful death, lawsuits filed for medical malpractice may seek to recover economic damages incurred by the injured patient as a result of negligence by a medical provider. Economic damages may include costs for medical expenses resulting from the malpractice incident, lost income or wages, loss of future earnings capacity, rehabilitation costs, and the cost of replacement services, such as childcare or household chores.
In most cases, victims of medical negligence may also recover non-economic damages for pain and suffering caused by malpractice. In certain cases involving gross negligence on the part of treatment providers, punitive damages may also be awarded.
Hurt by Doctor or Hospital Error? We Can Help!
The first step in filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is to speak with an experienced attorney about your case. An attorney can help guide you through the first steps of preparing a case—including gathering medical records and conducting interviews with individuals who may have information about the situation—in order to determine whether you have a viable case. Because statutes of limitations and procedural requirements for filing a lawsuit differ by state, it is important to discuss your situation with an attorney who has a background in medical malpractice litigation to determine if you qualify.
The attorneys at the Dallas, Texas law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson have the experience and expertise to assist injured patients with their medical malpractice claims. Our attorneys have successfully represented numerous victims of medical malpractice. Among our attorneys’ recent verdicts, settlements and results are the following:
- Jim Orr negotiated a $6.75 million settlement for the family of an 8-year-old child who suffered permanent brain damage due to medical errors occurring at a VA hospital.
- Michael Heygood achieved a $2.2 million jury verdict in a medical malpractice lawsuit arising from the premature discharge of a newborn infant from the hospital with low glucose levels.
- Eric Pearson argued the appeal in Columbia Medical Center of Las Colinas, Inc. v. Hogue, 271 S.W.3d 238 (Tex. 2009), in which the Texas Supreme Court upheld a gross negligence finding against the defendant hospital in a medical malpractice case and affirmed the jury’s $9 million verdict on behalf of his clients.
The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson are trial lawyers in the truest sense of the term. Our attorneys have the knowledge, experience, and financial resources necessary to prosecute even the most complex medical negligence cases all the way to a settlement or verdict. In recent years, our attorneys have obtained verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients totaling more than $200 million—including more than $50 million in 2010 alone.
If you believe you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical malpractice, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for your injuries, as well as lost wages and other financial costs. For a free consultation about your case and to find out if you qualify to file a lawsuit, contact Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001 or by following the link to our free case evaluation form.
Common Medical Malpractice Questions
At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we know medical malpractice can be confusing. Here are some basic answers to a few common questions.
1. How do you prove a medical malpractice case?
Medical malpractice cases almost always arise from a doctor’s negligence. In order to prove negligence, there are four criteria that must be met. These include:
- The doctor owed the patient a duty. The doctor or other medical professional must owe a duty of care to the plaintiff and usually play some role in the treatment or diagnosis at issue. In contrast, you usually can’t sue a doctor for what’s written on his or website, especially if there is a clause on the site saying anything on the site is not medical advice.
- The doctor acted unreasonably. There are many ways medical treatment can go wrong. But the doctor must have acted unreasonably, or outside the general standard of care, in order to be liable for medical malpractice. If your doctor acted reasonably in providing treatment, and you were still injured or made ill, you may not have a case.
- The doctor’s treatment caused your injury. Just because a doctor makes a mistake doesn’t mean you are entitled to compensation. You must show that the doctor’s wrongful actions more likely than not caused or worsened your injuries or illness.
- You suffered damages due to the negligence of the doctor. If the doctor didn’t perform up to standards, but you didn’t actually suffer harm because of it, you likely don’t have a basis to sue. Real harm may include pain and suffering, additional medical bills, lost earning capacity, and more.
2. What’s the statute of limitations on medical malpractice in Texas?
According to Texas law, you generally have two years from the date of the malpractice incident file a lawsuit. If the medical malpractice happens as part of an ongoing treatment, the two-year timeframe sometimes doesn’t start until treatment is completed. In limited circumstances, if an injured party discovers his or her injury after the two-year statute of limitations has already run, they may be able to file a medical malpractice suit within a reasonable time after discovery of the wrong.
Texas also has an additional “catch-all” deadline that prohibits filing a lawsuit more than 10 years after the date of the act or omission that caused the injury or illness. This is known as the statute of repose.
Finally, if the victim of medical malpractice is a child under the age of 12, you can usually file a lawsuit up until their 14th birthday.
3. Can I sue if I am not satisfied with the results of my surgery?
In some cases, yes. But simply being unhappy with the results of your surgery or other treatment usually isn’t enough. As mentioned above, you must have suffered real damages in order to seek compensation. When it comes to treatment like cosmetic surgery, being dissatisfied and having suffered real damages may be the same thing. It’s important to speak with an experienced Texas medical malpractice lawyer to determine if you have a case.