As a society, we have an almost unparalleled trust in the health care system and those who work within it. Whether it’s doctors, surgeons, nurses, residential nurse assistants, or any other healthcare professional, we trust that they are working to the accepted standard of care and be attentive when treating their patients. While most medical professionals do practice this, statistics and national stories have revealed that the health care climate in the United States is not as free of error as it may seem.
In 2016, John Hopkins Hospital released a study indicating that medical errors were the primary cause of approximately 250,000 deaths within the United States. The claims were supported even further when the Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI) released data that showed nearly 41 percent of all people in the U.S. have suffered due to some type of medical error. Sadly, these reports reveal how prevalent medical malpractice is in the United States, and not only that but the serious injury and harm that may come from such negligence.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of medical malpractice, contact PNW Trial Lawyers.
Bellingham Medical Malpractice Lawyers | Whatcom County, WA
All healthcare professionals must follow the accepted standard of care and any deviation from that standard could be deemed as negligence. If you are interested in pursuing a claim for medical malpractice, call PNW Trial Lawyers for more information. Our experienced Washington medical injury lawyers understand the devastating effects of an injury/illness stemming from medical malpractice. We want to apply all our skills and resources to help you recover completely.
Schedule your first consultation by calling PNW Trial Lawyers at (360) 483-5201 or simply submit an online contact form. PNW Trial Lawyers has offices in Bellingham and accepts clients throughout the greater Skagit County, Whatcom County, and Snohomish County including Everett, Mount Vernon, and Anacortes.
- Medical Malpractice Examples
- What Constitutes Medical Malpractice in Washington?
- How Long Do You Have to Sue for Medical Malpractice in Washington?
Medical Malpractice Examples
Many are unaware of how extensive medical malpractice claims can be. Any medical error resulting in injury is sufficient grounds for filing legal action against the responsible party. These medical errors can be committed by pharmacists to world-renowned surgeons to acupuncturists. The severity of the injury will depend on the facts of the incident.
- Diagnosis Errors – According to the John Hopkins report, misdiagnosis or physician’s failure to diagnose is the third leading cause of medical malpractice cases. Patients who are wrongfully diagnosed may undergo invasive and intense treatments, take unneeded medications, pay for unnecessary medical expenses, and in some cases a misdiagnosed patient may develop an additional condition due to the treatments they were receiving. Commonly misdiagnosed conditions include diabetes, cancer, and HIV.
- Surgical Errors – Probably the most trusted of all health professionals is surgeons and their teams. Both surgeons and anesthesiologists must be incredibly attentive, have a plan for any obstacles, be thoroughly trained, and do whatever needed to prepare for surgery. Despite these preparations, reports indicate 86% of all surgeons will face some type of medical malpractice lawsuit in their careers. Surgical errors can have devastating life-altering effects on a patient, and in some cases wrongful death.
- Prescription Drug Errors – It’s the job of doctors, nurses, and pharmacists to ensure patients are administered the correct dose and type of medication. Any error while prescribing or providing medication could lead to serious harm. For example, mixing certain medications could lead to serious side effects. If the patient is not informed of these possible side effects by the pharmacist, it could lead to serious injury or death.
- Birth Injuries – Although pregnancy and childbirth should be a moment to celebrate, it can be a disaster if a medical error is made. If a nurse or physician is negligent in some way, it could lead to a birth error. Injuries stemming from birth errors, whether it’s to mother or child, could change the trajectory of an individual’s life. For the child, it could set them up for a lifetime of medical or mental disability including cerebral palsy.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice in Washington?
It can be difficult to determine if an injury or illness stems from medical malpractice if you have little to no background in the healthcare industry. For that reason, we highly encourage you to seek legal representation if you suspect an injury could be caused by a healthcare professional’s negligent actions. A skilled personal injury lawyer can examine the facts of the case and determine if your argument for damages has merit. If so, they can then get started by collecting evidence to prove certain elements in a court of law. These elements include:
- Doctor-Patient Relationship – In order to file a claim, the plaintiff must prove they had a clear and established doctor and patient relationship with the defendant. This relationship must also be proven if the defendant is not a doctor and is instead a nurse, pharmacist, acupuncturist, etc. Essentially, the plaintiff must prove the defendant owed them a special duty of care which can be proven through medical records and eyewitness testimony.
- Deviated from Accepted Standard – Every doctor, nurse, or any other healthcare professional must follow an accepted duty of care that is based on their occupation. What the standard of care is for the defendant will range based on their role in the healthcare industry. The plaintiff must prove the defendant deviated from their accepted standard of care in order to file a valid medical malpractice claim.
- Deviation Led to Injury – The next step for the plaintiff is to prove in court the defendant’s deviation from their accepted standard of care lead to injury. This can be quite difficult to prove, but it’s possible with expert witness testimony and a catalogue of compelling evidence.
- The Plaintiff Suffered – The last element the plaintiff is obligated to prove is that they injury, harm, or wrongful death resulted in damages. Damages are any and all losses related to the injury including emotional, physical, and financial losses. If this last element is proven, the plaintiff will be granted a monetary award or settlement.
How Long Do You Have to Sue for Medical Malpractice in Washington?
The State of Washington does permit victims of medical malpractice to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. However, there is a time limit plaintiff must follow. Plaintiffs must file a claim before the statute of limitations, which is essentially a deadline to file a claim. Once the statute of limitations has passed, the plaintiff will be barred from filing any sort of claim for the injury.
In Washington, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case is three years. Thankfully, the State does permit victims of medical malpractice to file past the statute of limitations past one year if they didn’t discover the medical injury initially. They will be given one year past the statute of limitations to file a claim after they learnt of the medical injury.
National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association (NMAA) – Visit the official website for the NMAA to learn more about the non-profit organization that is dedicated raising awareness of the blatant medical malpractice in the US as well as petition for change.
Washington Medical Malpractice Laws – Visit the official website for the Washington State Legislature to read their collection of State laws including rules that address medical malpractice claims. Access the legislation to learn more about medical malpractice laws, the burden of proof for plaintiffs, informed consent, and other information.
Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Bellingham, WA
Are you a victim of medical malpractice? If so, then it’s vital you consult an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. At PNW Trial Lawyers, we have been representing the interests of medical malpractice victims for years and can do the same for you. Using our knowledge, resources, skills, and resources the personal injury lawyers at PNW Trial Lawyers will work tirelessly to acquire a fair and equitable settlement for you.
Schedule your first consultation with PNW Trial Lawyers by calling our office at (360) 483-5201. PNW Trial Lawyers is located in Bellingham and serves clients throughout the greater Whatcom County, Skagit County, and Snohomish County, Washington area.