Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Medical malpractice is generally defined as the negligent or incorrect performance of the professional duties of doctors, hospitals, health care providers such as nurses and institutions as well as claims arising from product liability, personal injury, and wrongful death. This area of the law allows the injured person to sue in a private action called a civil action or ‘tort action.’ A tort is a wrong against a person. Any accident or injury against a person can constitute a tort – from car accidents, defective products, or the negligence of a professional. However, medical negligence may be limited by statute. The medical skill and knowledge expected of doctors will depend on the particular practice specialties they have and the geographic area or community where the doctor practices. However, certain standards exist throughout the United States.
The dividing line between legitimate and illegitimate claims is not always clear, but the main difference is the medical result. If the error leads to death or catastrophic life-long incapacity or injury, it is generally legally viable claim.
It is necessary to seek advice from medical experts, who can be very costly to hire. Because of the highly complex nature of the claims, it is best to speak with an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice law. The Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers -Bochetto and Lentz consult with experienced medical experts that help us take your case to trial.
Medical Malpractice can happen in a number of ways. Emergency Rooms (ER) have the highest percentage of negligence. The reasons for this are relatively obvious. The ER is usually the first course of action in a life-threatening situation . ERs are usually busy and staff are limited on time when evaluating a sick or injured person for treatment according to the seriousness of the condition or injury – better known as ‘triage.’ The most frequent cause of error is mistaken diagnosis and delay or lack of treatment. Sometimes, even if a correct diagnosis is made, the physician doesn’t follow a proper course of treatment.
Surgical errors are also common. Reactions to anesthesia cause many deaths and malpractice injuries each year in addition to improperly monitoring a patient during and after surgery. Occasionally during procedures such as gastric bypass surgery, sponges, clothes stained with blood (making them difficult to see), and surgical instruments are left inside patients. These objects can cause infections and lesions and require painful and risky reversal surgery to remove the objects.
Obstetrical malpractice can lead to serious injuries including infants born with cerebral palsy and Erb’ Palsy, hypoxic ischemia, encephalopathy as a result of improper delivery and fetal distress.
The following questions should be met to qualify as a viable claim of medical malpractice:
- was there a provider-patient relationship?
- was care rendered negligent?
- has the patient suffered damage or harm?
- was the damage or harm done to the patient a direct result of the negligent care?
Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are filed when someone’s negligence or wrongful conduct results in the death of another. This area of tort law can involve every area of tort practice. From a legal standpoint, the last point is significant. With tort reform laws and insurance companies limiting their liability when negligence or death occurs, advice from both medical and legal experts is needed. The law office of Bochetto & Lentz has decades of experience in medical malpractice litigation in Philadelphia & South Jersey. Our medical malpractice attorneys have fought for fair and complete compensation for clients who have suffered a broad range of injuries and disabilities including:
- Defective eye laser surgery
- Failure to diagnose
One of the most frequent forms of medical malpractice arises from a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of a patient’s medical condition. Whether dealing with an illness or an injury, if a doctor fails to properly identify what is wrong then the patient may not receive the treatment that they need, or possibly even get the incorrect treatment. Misdiagnosis can have serious and even tragic consequences, as it often leads to a condition worsening, and at times even to death. Though misdiagnosis is not always an indication of medical malpractice, it often is. If you are facing the consequences of a misdiagnosis by a medical professional, the experienced Philadelphia law firm of Bochetto & Lentz can help you determine whether you are able to file a misdiagnosis lawsuit.
Physicians are not infallible; there is no legal requirement that they make the correct diagnosis every time. However, they are required to provide skilled and competent treatment and they are expected not to cause harm to their patients. In cases where diagnostic errors have been made, in order to prove medical malpractice the patient must be able to prove that there was a doctor/patient relationship, that the doctor was negligent, and that the doctor’s negligence caused actual injury.
Negligence is determined by whether or not another physician who works in the same specialty would have correctly identified the patient’s condition. When doctors diagnose a patient one of the ways that they do so is by creating a “differential diagnosis” – a list of possible diagnoses that fit the patient’s symptoms. After this list is created the physician determines which is the most likely fit based upon symptoms, medical history, test results, etc. This process of elimination eventually leads to the single diagnosis that fits best. Negligence can be proven if the physician did not include the correct diagnosis on their original differential diagnosis list while another physician in his field would have, or whether it was included but not adequately tested or investigated.
In some cases, a physician may have asked for appropriate tests in an effort to confirm or eliminate a diagnosis but as a result of faulty equipment or human error, the test results are faulty. In these cases malpractice may have occurred, but the fault would likely lie with somebody other than the physician.
The other essential element to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit based on misdiagnosis is the determination of whether the misdiagnosis caused actual injury. Getting a diagnosis wrong does not rise to the standard of medical malpractice if the injury or condition did not progress beyond where it would have if it had been made correctly or in a timely manner. However, if the patient requires more extensive treatment or is in worse condition as a result of the delay, harm can be proven. Misdiagnosis can also harm a patient by causing stress, additional medical problems or unnecessary treatment.
Identifying situations in which a misdiagnosis represents medical malpractice requires specialized knowledge and experience. The law firm of Bochetto & Lentz will review your situation and provide you with guidance regarding your rights.
Every parent eagerly anticipates the birth of their child, but birth injuries can rob them of joy and turn their world upside down. Birth injuries happen in the United States at a higher rate than most people realize: almost seven for every 1,000 births. These injuries can range from the devastation of cerebral palsy to the challenges presented by Erb’s palsy. Birth injuries are a result of mistakes made by medical and healthcare professionals during the time leading up to, during, or immediately after a child is born. They have long-lasting impacts on a child’s future and quality of life, as well as the financial and emotional stability of the family.
Birth injury lawsuits can be filed when a baby’s injury is a result of either careless or intentional actions on the part of a healthcare provider, including the hospital itself, a doctor or nurse, or others. Birth injuries are not considered a crime: instead they are a civil wrong, and as such may be the subject of either a personal injury lawsuit or a medical malpractice lawsuit. A successful birth injury lawsuit results in the person, persons or entity responsible being held liable for the damage that they have caused and requires them to pay compensatory damages. Compensatory damages help to pay for the child’s medical expenses past and future, as well as the assessed costs of pain and suffering and reimbursement for the loss of a normal life. This can include payment for disability, disfigurement, lost earnings potential, and more.
Birth injuries can range in their seriousness and impact as well as in the reasons that they happen. Some are caused by failure to perform a timely Caesarean section or by the incorrect dosage of a medication. Others are caused by vacuum extraction or forceps that are improperly used during delivery. Common birth injuries include:
Cerebral Palsy: Cerebral palsy is one of the most serious and common birth injuries. It is brain damage caused at or around the time of birth, and is generally thought to be caused by lack of oxygen to the baby during the birth process and delivery. The neurological impact of cerebral palsy is restricted body movement and muscle coordination. It can be caused by a number of mistakes, including failure to detect or treat a maternal infection, failure to properly monitor the fetal heart rate or detect a prolapsed umbilical cod, failure to provide a caesarean section procedure when indicated, and negligence in the use of vacuum suction or forceps during delivery.
Complications from shoulder dystocia: Shoulder dystocia occurs when an infant’s shoulder lodges against the mother’s pubic bone during a vaginal delivery, and can result in birth hypoxia, brachial plexus and Erb’s palsy injuries, fractures to the baby’s collar bone or humerus, and fetal death. Risk factors include gestational diabetes, excessive weight gain or obesity, a large baby or a history of the mother having large babies, and a properly trained and prepared medical staff will be aware and well-equipped. Failure to do so often leads to birth injuries.
Families that are impacted by birth injuries need expert legal representation in order to provide the best for their child. The compassionate, experienced Philadelphia law firm of Bochetto & Lentz have an impressive record of success in assisting families to get the compensation that they deserve.
Brachial Plexus Injuries
The birth of a baby is a time for celebration, but when birth injuries occur the joy of the occasion is tempered by concerns for the child’s wellbeing. One of the most common birth injuries is a brachial plexus injury. Brachial plexus injuries occur in approximately two out of every thousand births in the United States. There are many reasons why this injury may occur, and several levels of severity that an injury may represent. In many cases brachial plexus injuries are preventable. If your child has suffered a brachial plexus injury as a result of a physician or healthcare provider applying too much force or failing to anticipate a complication, the compassionate Philadelphia law firm of Bochetto & Lentz can help.
The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that are located in the shoulder. It is responsible for the smooth movement of the fingers, hand, wrist, arm and shoulder, and when it is damaged it often results in a loss of those abilities. There are four major types of brachial plexus injuries. They are:
- Avulsion, in which the nerve is severed from the spine
- Rupture, in which the nerve is severed but not at the point of connection to the spine
- Neuroma, in which the damaged nerve’s ability to heal is blocked by scar tissue
- Neuropraxia, a form of Erb’s Palsy that is generally mild and from which recovery often occurs, usually within four to six weeks
Brachial plexus injuries take place during the birthing process when the infant’s shoulder becomes lodged behind the mother’s pubic bone. This is known as shoulder dystocia. Healthcare providers need to exercise extreme caution in their attempts to dislodge the baby, as too much pressure can stretch the brachial plexus nerves and cause injury. Brachial plexus injuries also occur during many breach births. There are specific risk factors that make brachial plexus more likely. These include excessive weight gain by the mother during the pregnancy, or preexisting obesity; a larger-than-average baby; gestational diabetes; previous delivey of a large baby; breech position. In all of these scenarios a physician should be able to foresee the risk and act accordingly to take appropriate precautions. Failure to do so may represent medical malpractice or negligence.
Though many brachial plexus injuries heal on their own over a short period of time, others represent permanent damage that robs the child of the ability to move their hand, fingers or arm normally. Some children who experience brachial plexus injuries are completely paralyzed in the limb or lose sensitivity. Severe brachial plexus injuries can have a long-term impact on quality of life and the ability to perform normal tasks, and those who are determined to be responsible may be required to provide compensation for the damage that has been done. In all cases, an experienced attorney from the Philadelphia law firm of Bochetto & Lentz will be able to help you to understand your rights and recover the costs of any medical expenses that you may incur for your child’s treatment, as well as for any long-term damages resulting from the injury.
Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
The headlines are full of news items about physicians and hospitals’ negligence, and people are constantly retelling anecdotes about acquaintances that have received large awards and settlements in medical malpractice cases. The details on these cases are always focused on what went wrong and how big the award was, but when it’s you that’s been impacted by a medical provider’s mistake, suddenly the stories became very real and you need a lot more details. The most important question that you need answered is whether in fact you have a medical malpractice case. Though there are many instances where a mistake is made in a patient’s treatment by their medical provider, those mistakes may not meet the standards required for the filing of a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Medical malpractice consists of two very specific requirements. The first is that the physician or medical professional made a mistake, and the second is that there was harm that resulted from that mistake. Medical malpractice can involve a medical professional of any type, from a technician, nurse or doctor through the medical facility itself. It can consist of something that was actually done that caused an injury, or something that was not done – some kind of failure to act or provide care that would be deemed medical negligence. These mistakes can be made at any point during treatment, from missing a diagnosis or making an incorrect diagnosis to prescribing the incorrect medication or course of treatment. These errors are judged based on whether the care that was provided meets generally accepted practice within the profession for the specifics of your case, and if you can prove that the standard of care that was provided was below or not in keeping with that provided to other patients or by other physicians, then that is half of what is required to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Beyond the actual mistake that the medical professional has made in your treatment, the other key component to a medical malpractice case is whether or not an injury or damage was actually done. Though patients may be angered or disappointed by the fact that a doctor missed a diagnosis or provided the wrong medication as part of your treatment, unless you can show that their mistake caused actual damage or harm then you do not have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim. If damage has been done then the next step is to prove that it was the professional’s mistake that caused that damage. Proving this aspect of the case usually requires medical expertise, and a qualified medical malpractice attorney will be able to utilize the services of expert witnesses, usually physicians or medical professionals themselves, who will testify as to the medical facts.
In situations where all of the required elements are there, an experienced medical malpractice attorney will be able to assemble all of the facts and present a compelling case on your behalf to a judge and jury. If you believe that you have been the victim of medical malpractice, the law firm of Bochetto & Lentz will gladly review your case to determine whether you have a claim that can be filed.
Please use the form to the right to contact us regarding any Medical Malpractice questions you may have.