Medical malpractice can be devastating to the health and safety of patients. After experiencing medical negligence, patients suffer the physical, financial, and emotional costs.
The Joint Commission on Patient Safety reports that approximately 400,000 hospitalized patients experience preventable harm every year. Medical errors, they estimate, account for approximately 100,000 deaths each year.
If you or a loved one suffer because of medical negligence in Texas, call us today. Our Denton medical malpractice attorneys are here to help.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Generally speaking, medical malpractice occurs when medical professional breaches the standard of care expected of them and causes an injury. Medical negligence claims are a subtype of personal injury claims involving health care providers. Texas law also classifies medical malpractice claims as health care liability claims.
What Are Common Types of Medical Errors?
According to the Joint Commission on Patient Safety’s study (updated 2022), these are some common types of medical errors:
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose,
- Preventable infections,
- Hospital-acquired conditions, and
- Medication errors (like giving a patient the wrong medication or dose).
Surgical errors, according to the report, make up the majority of the medical malpractice claims involving hospitals. For outpatient services, misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, or late diagnosis commonly form the basis for medical malpractice claims.
How Do I Prove That My Doctor Committed Medical Malpractice?
There are three main elements of medical malpractice in Texas:
- A health care provider treating a patient for a condition didn’t meet their ethical duty to follow “accepted standards of medical care”;
- The patient suffers an injury or death; and
- The health care provider’s action or inaction is the cause of the injury or death.
Patients or surviving family members of patients need to prove all these elements to win a medical negligence case. Special rules apply to emergency care providers and those providing emergency services during a pandemic.
At Hartley Law, we know what evidence to look for to help you prove your medical malpractice claim. We leave no stone unturned, understanding that proactive and diligent advocacy is critical for our clients.
Health Care Providers Owe Patients an Ethical Duty
Texas includes in its definition of “health care providers” the following medical professionals (among others):
- Registered nurse,
- Health care institution,
- Optometrist, and
Medical professionals have an ethical duty to act reasonably when practicing medicine. To determine if the provider’s actions (or inaction) are reasonable, courts typically look to factors like:
- The doctor’s knowledge and experience;
- The patient’s medical history;
- The patient’s symptoms lead to the medical professional’s action or inaction; and
- The surrounding circumstances.
Your medical malpractice lawyer will investigate your case to gather evidence supporting these factors. For example, after-visit summaries and doctor’s notes will show your medical history and what the doctor did and did not note about your condition.
Health Care Provider May Be Liable If Their Negligence Causes an Injury
Bringing a successful medical error claim against a doctor requires a patient to show that there is a connection between their injury and the doctor’s actions. In other words, the patient must prove that they would not have the injury if the doctor had acted differently. The connection between the medical professional’s errors and the patient’s injury doesn’t always need to be direct. That said, patients will still need to show that there’s a sufficient link between the doctor’s conduct and the resulting injury.
How do you prove this? Things like keeping accurate records and taking care to not exacerbate the injury would help your claim. Accurate records help make sure that there aren’t any gaps or breaks in the chain between the doctor’s actions and your injury. Medical professionals, their insurance provider, and their attorneys may use these gaps to attempt to discredit your claim.
How Long Do I Have to File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
It depends. Patients over age 12 have two years to file a medical malpractice claim. Patients under age 12 have until their 14th birthday to file a claim.
This two-year clock begins either:
- When the health care provider commits the malpractice; or
- When the patient completes the treatment that the negligent doctor recommends or the hospitalization associated with the care.
In either case, Texas requires that patients or their families file a medical malpractice claim within ten years after the doctor performs the negligent act.
For example, let’s say the Doctor recommends that the Patient undergoes intensive surgery. Patient complies. Due to the doctor’s negligence, the Patient must stay in the hospital for six months following surgery. A patient may have two years from the date that they left the hospital to file a medical malpractice claim.
What Compensation Can I Receive for a Medical Malpractice Claim?
In Texas, patients or their surviving families may receive the following compensation if they win their case: economic damages, non-economic damages, and—in some cases—punitive (exemplary) damages.
Economic damages operate to compensate the patient or their family for the financial burden of medical malpractice. These include reimbursement for current and future lost wages, hospital bills, and medical expenses.
Noneconomic damages strive to compensate the patient or their family for the human cost of the medical error. These include compensation for the pain and suffering that the patient endures because of the medical error or the mental anguish the family suffers due to the loss of their loved one.
Punitive (or exemplary) damages serve as a way of punishing the health care provider for particularly egregious actions. Additionally, punitive damages function to deter others from committing the same act or causing similar harm. Punitive damages are available only in rare circumstances.
Why Hire Our Denton Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Here at Hartley Law Firm, we pride ourselves on providing aggressive representation when you need it most. Our unrivaled diligence, dedication, and compassion are what you need from Denton medical malpractice lawyers to help you on the road to recovery. Contact us today.