When we go to the emergency room or hospital, we expect doctors and medical staff in these facilities to take care of us and put us on the road to recovery. Unfortunately, hospital errors and mistakes relating to administration of medications are extremely common. Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer and more than 250,000 people die each year from medical practice nationwide.
When hospitals make errors including those during surgery that cause serious injury or harm to patients, they should be held liable for the damages and losses caused. If you or a loved one has suffered adverse health outcomes as a result of hospital errors or administration mistakes, it is important that you contact an experienced West Virginia medical malpractice lawyer who will remain on your side, fight for your rights and make sure you receive maximum compensation for your losses.
What Are Hospital Errors?
Hospital errors are mistakes that are made by individuals employed by a hospital. The hospital can typically be held liable for mistakes under the corporate negligence doctrine. Employees of a hospital include but are not limited to doctors, physicians, surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, lab technicians, administrative staff and clerks.
For a medical malpractice claim to be successful, plaintiffs must be able to show evidence that the hospital employee was negligent or careless in some way. What this means is that the hospital employee owed the plaintiff a duty of care. You must show that the employee breached that duty of care, which resulted in injury and/or financial loss to you. The error must be related to medical treatment such as surgery in order to constitute medical malpractice.
Common Hospital Errors
Here are some of the common hospital errors that result in medical malpractice claims in West Virginia:
Diagnosis issues: Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is a typical hospital error, which has the potential to result in real injury and harm to patients. For example, if a surgeon operates on a body part based on wrongful diagnosis, that is example of medical negligence that resulted in unnecessary surgery, physical pain and financial strain for the patient.
Medication errors: This might include prescribing the wrong drugs, administering incorrect dosages or providing expired or recalled medications. Drug errors that might be caused by a doctor, nurse or pharmacy employee at the hospital can have devastating consequences for patients and could sometimes, even result in death.
Anesthesia errors: These errors may involve failing to warn patients about the risks, administering the wrong dosage of the anesthetic and not understanding a patient’s health history such as allergies.
Surgical errors: One common error with surgery is failing to obtain the patient’s informed consent. Others include leaving foreign objects such as sponges in the patient’s body, operating on the wrong site, failing to provide proper post-operative care, surgical fires, etc.
Emergency room malpractice: This typically involves emergency room staff. For example, when an emergency room physician fails to diagnose a person’s heart disease and he or she suffers a heart attack shortly afterward, that could be viewed as misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose.
What Should You Do if a Hospital Makes an Error?
There are a number of steps you can take if a hospital error has injured or harmed you or someone you love. Here are the measures you can take to protect your rights:
- Talk to someone right away. Report the incident to your care provider and to his or her supervisor. Talk to the hospital’s administration about the complaint process. If you fill out and submit a complaint form, keep a copy for your own records.
- Do not wait to report the incident, even if you don’t know anyone who is around you. Be sure to report the issue in a timely manner.
- Discuss the issue in a respectful manner, but be assertive. You are your own best advocate when it comes to getting appropriate medical care. Let the caregiver know quickly so the problem can be promptly addressed.
- Talk to a hospital administrator who can investigate and resolve the problem. Tell them that you expect to hear back about the issue and that you would like to see the appropriate steps taken to address the mistake. It is important that you or a family member should follow up after reporting.
- If you do not receive an answer during your stay or shortly after being discharged from the hospital, contact the hospital’s customer service or a patient advocate. Many hospitals have an established system when it comes to reporting errors such as a hotline. Make good use of these systems.
- If you are not getting the desired response from the hospital or if you have sustained injury or harm as a result of the hospital error, it is imperative that you contact an experienced West Virginia medical malpractice lawyer who will help you navigate the system and fight for your rights every step of the way.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
If you have been injured or harmed as the result of a hospital error, you may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses resulting form the error, additional hospital bills incurred, lost wages (if the injury caused you to miss work), loss of earning capacity (if you lost your ability to earn a livelihood as a result of the injury), court costs, attorney’s fees, past and future pain and suffering and potential punitive damages, if the errors were particularly egregious.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical negligence or has been the victim of hospital or administration errors, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Morgantown West Virginia medical malpractice lawyer who can provide you with more information about pursuing your legal rights.
If you have been the victim of surgical malpractice at hospitals such as Ruby Memorial Hospital, Monongalia General (Mon General) Hospital, Mon Health Systems WVU University Health Associates or private clinics in West Virginia, the knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyers at the Robinette Legal Group PLLC can help you receive maximum compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, cost of additional surgery, hospitalization, permanent injuries, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Contact us at 304-594-1800 to find out how we can help you.