Medical malpractice, or medical negligence as it is also called, is a situation in which a health care provider (doctor, nurse, surgeon, specialist, clinic, hospital or any other medical service provider) fails to provide an appropriate “standard of care.” The term negligence is easier to understand as it suggests correctly that a health care provider has been negligent in their provision of medical services to a patient.
If you have been a victim of medical negligence, however minor, you won’t be alone. Deaths from medical malpractice are the third most common cause of deaths in the United States, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Only cancer and heart disease are more common causes.
Medical malpractice lawsuits result in billions of dollars in compensation every year. There is approximately one payment made as a result of a successful lawsuit made every 45 minutes.
Someone has been the victim of medical malpractice when it can be proved that an injury or illness has been directly caused by negligent actions by a medical provider. Some of the more common examples of medical negligence include:
- Injuries caused by delayed or botched surgery;
- Misdiagnosis; this can lead to the wrong treatment, surgery, medication, etc.
- Failure to diagnose in time; can lead to a worsening of a condition because of late diagnosis;
- Medication errors; these could be the wrong medication altogether or incorrect doses of medication;
- Injuries caused during childbirth; could be injuries to mother or baby;
- Errors in anesthesia; could lead to serious injury or fatality if method of anesthesia not taking into account patient needs.
Evidence needed to prove medical malpractice
Lawsuits filed for medical malpractice fail more often than they succeed, despite the seemingly enormous figures quoted at the beginning of this article. Like any personal injury lawsuit, there must be clear proof that an act of negligence directly caused an injury or illness. Medical providers may say in their defense that a particular negative outcome was the result of previous treatment or that a warning that a particular procedure may not be successful had been given to the patient before the procedure had commenced.
In some cases, there may be an attempt to pre-empt a potentially large claim by issuing an apology and /or an offer of a payment with the understanding that no legal action would be taken by the patient.
Statutes of limitation for medical malpractice in Tennessee
Tennessee, like many other states, has time limits within which medical malpractice claims must be made as well as caps on the amount of payments that can be made, particularly non-economic components of a claim.
A medical malpractice claim must be made within 1 year from the date that the injury or illness being discovered, but in addition it must be filed within 3 years of the actual alleged act of negligence that led to the injury or illness being caused.
Economic damages caused by medical malpractice are not capped. These include the extra cost of medical treatment made necessary to correct or treat the injury or illness that was caused by medical malpractice plus loss of earnings.
Non-economic damages are capped at $750,000 for all damages except catastrophic injuries such as paralysis caused by spinal cord damage, amputations of at least two limbs, severe burns, etc. These catastrophic injury payments are capped at $1,000,000. By non-economic damages is meant compensation for the “pain and suffering” experienced, punitive damages, etc.
Contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney
For the most part, you should have confidence that health care providers know what they are doing and do their best to provide you with the best treatment, but if you have been unfortunate enough to have been the victim of medical malpractice, you should contact a medical malpractice attorney to discuss filing a lawsuit for compensation. Contact the Keith Williams Law Group in Nashville for aggressive representation. The office can be contacted at (615) 313-3999.