You put your trust in medical professionals. But if you are harmed when those in whom you put your trust fail to live up to the professional standards of care, you have the right to bring a claim against the doctor—in fact, it is the doctor’s insurer that will pay your damages. If you think you have a valid case, get help from a medical malpractice attorney in Gwinnett County at Brauns Law, PC. Hospitals and doctors have access to excellent legal help. So should you.
We Help You Prove the Doctor Is Liable for Medical Malpractice
These actions can give rise to a medical malpractice claim:
Errors in Anesthesia
Anesthesia is a medically induced state that causes a patient to lose consciousness, awareness, or sensation. This can involve many different types of medication, and is most commonly used during surgical procedures. In any situation, however, anesthesia can pose significant risks. For this reason, anesthesiologists are held to a high standard of care when inducing anesthesia.
Unfortunately, too many anesthesiologists make serious mistakes that can lead to dangerous complications or injuries in otherwise healthy patients. In some cases, anesthesia mistakes can be life-threatening or even fatal. Common errors include:
- Administering too much medication, which can cause an overdose
- Administering too little medication, so the patient becomes aware during surgery
- Not accounting for patient allergies or past adverse reactions to anesthesia
- Not adequately monitoring the patient while under anesthesia
- Administering the medication too early or too late
Surgery can put even the healthiest of bodies in distress and at risk of injury. Such injuries become more common when a surgeon or a member of the surgical team makes a mistake or acts carelessly. Medical negligence and error may cause you to suffer unexpected injuries or complications during surgery.
Common examples of surgical errors include:
- Not knowing a patient’s medical history or risk factors
- Performing the incorrect surgery on the incorrect patient
- Performing surgery on the incorrect body part (such as amputating the wrong leg)
- Not adequately sterilizing hands or equipment
- Nicking arteries or organs
- Operating while impaired by drugs, alcohol, or extreme fatigue
- Closing sponges or other surgical instruments inside a patient’s body
- Failing to monitor patients after surgery and address any possible infections or complications
Failure to Properly Diagnose and Treat a Condition
Another—often serious—form of medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional fails to accurately identify and diagnose a patient’s medical condition. This can constitute medical malpractice when another doctor with similar training would have correctly diagnosed the condition and started treatment.
In some cases, failure to diagnose may result in serious and possibly life-threatening injuries. When some conditions are not properly treated in a timely manner, a patient’s condition can worsen significantly and either require more invasive treatment or become untreatable and terminal. Common failed diagnoses include:
- Heart attack
- Pulmonary embolism
- Aortic dissection
- Lyme disease
An early stage cancer patient may only need minor radiation treatments. If a doctor fails to diagnose their cancer for some time, however, the patient may then require chemotherapy, surgery, or other more costly and painful treatments. In some cases, patients who do not receive the proper diagnosis for cancer or heart attacks may pass away due to lack of treatment.
Unreasonable Delay in Treatment
When patients go to an emergency department, they often are in actual need of treatment as soon as possible. However, emergency departments are notoriously chaotic operations with many people in and out, as well as doctors and staff working long hours. Keeping track of patients and prioritizing treatment can be difficult—though mistakes can also mean severe injuries or even death for some patients.
For example, if a patient comes in and is having trouble breathing due to an airway obstruction, she may need immediate intubation to allow them to keep breathing. However, if an emergency room doctor believes the breathing issues are due to another cause and does not perform the necessary tests, the patient may not receive the necessary treatment and may asphyxiate.
Other delays in treatment are caused by record keeping or organizational mistakes, as some patients may sit in emergency departments for hours without even being seen when, in reality, they require immediate treatment.
Failure to Obtain Informed Consent
Medical decisions are difficult for many patients, especially for those with little to no medical understanding. Patients rely on doctors to help guide them in making the right decisions, which includes being aware of all of the risks of a treatment and weighing those risks with the benefits. When a patient has all of the necessary information to make a decision, he can give informed consent to undergo the treatment.
When a doctor fails to notify patients of all of the potential treatment risks, their consent is not considered to be “informed.” In such cases, the patient may later suffer unexpected complications or injuries that they would never have risked had they known about those possibilities. Failure to inform commonly occurs regarding surgical procedures, pharmaceuticals, robotic surgery, medical equipment and devices, and more.
Another common—and often serious—form of medical malpractice occurs during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, and causes unnecessary injuries to a baby, mother, or both. Many birth injuries simply require additional medical treatment or time in the hospital, and babies or mothers can make full recoveries. On the other hand, some birth injuries result in lifelong impairments and disabilities for a child or can be fatal for a mother.
Common errors that can lead to birth injuries include:
- Failure to diagnose conditions in the mother or baby
- Not identifying potential birth complications
- Not monitoring vital signs of both the mother and baby during labor and delivery
- Failure to respond to signs of possible distress in the mother or baby
- Improper use of a vacuum, forceps, or other birthing tools
- Not ordering an emergency C-section when needed
- Not providing necessary care for the baby or mother after delivery
Birth injuries can be particularly serious because they can completely change the course of a new infant’s life. A baby who suffers an injury that results in cerebral palsy or a similar condition may live with impairments that limit opportunities in school or future careers. These cases can be complicated, specifically when it comes to determining the amount of damages that were caused by the birth injury, which can include future losses during the course of the child’s life.
Who is Responsible for Your Medical Injuries?
Several parties may be liable, but ultimately, to bring a claim against a medical professional, you have to prove that the doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist, or other medical professional failed to meet the appropriate standard of care. In other words, were they negligent?
The answer to this question, unfortunately, is not simple. Under Georgia law, a medical professional is required to use “a reasonable degree of care and skill.” [O.C.G.A. §51-1-27] This can be ambiguous, which is why it is important to bring in medical experts and present evidence to clearly demonstrate when a medical professional failed to meet the standard of care.
In any medical malpractice case, the state of Georgia requires that an expert witness testifies that the care given to the injured party did not meet reasonable standards. David Brauns will help you secure an expert witness to testify on behalf of your case, and will set to work compiling other evidence to establish negligence and liability, including your medical records.
You Have a Limited Time in Which to File Your Medical Malpractice Claim
There are limits on how long a patient has to file a claim in any medical malpractice case.
Generally, you only have two years from the date of injury to bring an action—otherwise, you cannot make a claim at all. There are few exceptions. For example, if you were unaware of a foreign object left in your body, then from the time you discover it, you have a year to bring the claim. In the case of minors, the statute of limitations is also two years, but cannot begin to run until the minor turns seven years old.
Furthermore, a statute of repose for medical malpractice cases in Georgia prevents filing a claim more than five years after the incident that led to the injury. For minors, the statute of repose cannot start running before the minor’s 10th birthday.
David Brauns Can Ensure You Recover a Full and Fair Settlement
In Georgia, you may be able to recover three types of damages in a medical malpractice case.
- Compensatory – These cover the losses and expenses you experience because of your injuries. They can include medical bills, lost wages, etc.
- Non-economic – These include payment for pain and suffering and other intangible losses.
- Punitive damages – These punish wrongdoers if there is evidence of reckless or willful misconduct or fraud.
There are at present no statutory limits for compensatory or non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases in Georgia. Punitive damages, while rare, are limited to $250,000, except in limited circumstances.
In addition to the evidence establishing liability, we will compile evidence that demonstrates the effects the injury has had on your life. This might include your bills and evidence of lost wages. It could also include pain diaries or witness testimony.
Get the Damages You Deserve. Get Help from Attorney David Brauns
David Brauns works on a contingency fee basis. This means he only receives a percentage of the amount you recover. If you do not recover anything, then he does not recover anything from you.
If medical professionals caused you harm, do not put your trust in their lawyers to treat you fairly. Work with Brauns Law, PC in Gwinnett County to prove a doctor’s negligence and liability and recover the damages you deserve. Set up your consultation by calling us at (404) 348-0889.