Beaufort Medical Malpractice Lawyer
As adults, we accept that sometimes a person who is sick or injured will not get well despite the best medical care. We even recognize that harmful medical mistakes can and do occur. However, at the same time, patients and their loved ones have a legal right to expect medical professionals to provide an accepted standard of care at all times.
If you or a loved one has suffered a significantly adverse outcome from medical treatment, you are correct to question whether the medical practitioner(s) involved deviated from the accepted standard of care. For a reliable answer, you will need an investigation by experienced medical malpractice attorneys working with qualified, independent medical professionals.
At Schiller & Hamilton, our respected Beaufort personal injury attorneys have extensive experience investigating medical errors and pursuing medical malpractice claims for deserving patients and their families.
Determining Medical Professional Fault
In Beaufort, a successful medical malpractice lawsuit relies on facts that establish:
- There was a relationship between the medical professional and the patient, giving rise to a duty of care to the patient.
- The medical professional violated the duty of care by a negligent act or omission.
- The patient was injured as a result of the violation of the medical professional’s duty of care.
A violation or breach of duty in medical treatment is a failure to provide “reasonable care,” or care that meets the accepted standards of medical practice for the illness or injury the patient presented. A viable claim would need to show that a preventable medical error (negligence) or failure to act (omission) caused the defendant to be harmed.
In general, the question to be answered is whether another medical provider in the same situation would have acted as the provider under examination did. If the answer is that the provider under scrutiny acted improperly, the question then becomes whether the medical error or omission caused the patient to suffer a worse condition or decline in health.
These standards are properly applied to all levels of practitioner in health care or medical services, including but not limited to:
- Physician assistants
- Nurse anesthetists
- Nurses (RNs, LPNs, LVNs)
- Nursing Aides
- Lab Technicians
- Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)
- Therapists (Physical and Psychological Counselors)
- Dental hygienists
A medical institution or its corporate owners may be held accountable if it can be shown that the organization’s policies and procedures (established or implied through tolerated work practices) contributed to a patient’s injuries. This includes but is not limited to:
- Hospitals / medical centers, including emergency rooms
- Clinics (urgent care-type outpatient medical care centers, ambulatory surgery clinics, abortion clinics, etc.)
- Medical practices (doctor’s offices, dentist’s offices, chiropractor’s offices, etc.)
- Assisted-living facilities (nursing homes, convalescent homes, skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, etc.)
- Rehabilitation centers (physical therapy, psychiatric rehabilitation, alcoholism or drug abuse rehab, etc.)
Schiller & Hamilton can thoroughly investigate the medical care you received and determine whether you have a medical malpractice claim. We will help you obtain your medical records and have them reviewed by an independent medical professional we regularly work with. If that consultant finds cause for concern, we will seek the opinions of qualified specialists.
When we believe we can establish a case for medical malpractice, we move forward without fear or favor to hold any responsible medical provider and/or institution accountable. Our medical malpractice attorneys are skilled negotiators and respected litigators who have extensive experience handling all aspects of these types of complex claims. We are equipped to aggressively pursue full and fair compensation for the undue harm you have suffered.
Common Cases of Malpractice
Medical malpractice can take a variety of forms. In our research and legal practice, the more common forms of medical error and omissions we have seen include:
Emergency Room Errors
Miscommunication and rushing through patient examinations are primary causes of preventable mistakes in emergency rooms. Working to process patients too quickly leads to misdiagnosis and improper treatment, or failure to provide needed care. Often “handoff errors” are made as hospital patients are transferred among staff members or departments and their treatment needs are not properly communicated. Sometimes care is delayed because of staffing issues or other failures of the institution.
Failure to obtain complete medical histories from new patients or to review returning patients’ histories, or ignoring reported symptoms, can lead to diagnostic errors. Misreading or misreporting X-rays, MRI, or CAT scans can also cause diagnostic errors. Misdiagnosis may lead to improper or even harmful treatment. Failed or delayed diagnosis may allow a medical problem to advance and do greater harm as treatment is delayed. Cancer patients, in particular, have a better survival rate the sooner their illness is diagnosed and treated.
The most common surgical mistakes are “leave behind” errors, leaving clamps, sponges, gauze, or other instruments inside the patient, which makes a second operation necessary; and “wrong-site surgery,” operating on the wrong limb, organ, etc. Other examples of surgical error include using unsanitary tools (potentially causing infection) and mistakenly puncturing an organ adjacent to but not part of the intended surgery. Post-operative omissions, such as failing to prevent and/or care for infection, blood clots, internal bleeding, and other complications, may also be described as surgical error.
Doctors or nurses who fail to notice signs of trouble or fail to act promptly in an emergency can allow babies and/or their mothers to suffer preventable injuries before, during, and after delivery and birth. If oxygen to a baby’s brain is reduced for a significant amount of time, it can cause brain damage, often in the form of cerebral palsy. A baby who assumes an unnatural position in the birth canal may be physically injured if a doctor applies too much force to assist delivery. Surgical errors during or after a Cesarean section (C-section) may injure mother or child. Birth injuries in newborns may lead to ongoing medical needs and significantly diminish the child’s quality of life.
Providing the wrong drug, the wrong dosage, or even the right medication at improper intervals to a patient can cause harm. Medication and prescription errors often result from miscommunication, such as failing to obtain a proper medical history that includes current medications, or illegible handwriting, confusing abbreviations, or similar-sounding drug names in prescriptions or drug orders or inventories. Poorly designed policies or procedures may contribute to medication and prescription errors, as well.
Medical Equipment Failure
Modern medical care employs a variety of tools and equipment for diagnosis, testing, imaging, surgery, recovery, and to assist and maintain the disabled. Medical equipment failure or malfunction could lead to injury or death. An investigation would focus on what the medical provider knew about the equipment’s condition, whether personnel were properly trained to use and maintain the equipment, and whether the equipment was defective from the start, in which case the manufacturer may be liable.
Types of Compensation in a Beaufort Malpractice Claim
If the independent medical professionals or medical experts we consult about your case suggest to us that medical malpractice is obvious, we can make a formal claim against the healthcare provider.
In most cases, the health care provider will send the claim to their insurance carrier, and we will begin negotiations to resolve the case with an appropriate settlement to you. If it cannot be resolved, then we will file a formal lawsuit.
All cases are different, but in our experience over more than two decades, medical malpractice cases go to trial more often than any other type of personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
In a lawsuit, we would demand compensation, known as economic and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages may include the costs of:
- Medical expenses and medical care
- Rehabilitation services
- Custodial care
- Burial costs (in a wrongful death)
- Loss of income
- Loss of earnings and earning capacity
- Loss of employment
- Loss of business or employment opportunities
- Loss of retirement income
- Costs of obtaining substitute domestic services
- Loss of spousal services
A medical malpractice lawsuit seeks economic damages for past, current, and future costs and losses. For example, patients who are left disabled may need medical care and/or personal assistance for the rest of their lives and may not be able to work for a living. In such cases, a life care planning consultant can help us project those future costs, and a financial consultant can ensure we fully account for income losses.
Noneconomic damages may be paid for your:
- Physical impairment
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of society and companionship
- Loss of consortium
In most medical malpractice lawsuits, South Carolina applies a cap to noneconomic damages. This limits pain and suffering payments to $350,000 from each defendant (health care provider or health care institution) up to $1.05 million in total from all defendants. The cap may be waived in cases that include grossly negligent, willful, wanton, or reckless action; fraud or misrepresentation; or destruction or alteration of medical records to avoid a claim or liability.
Call a Beaufort Medical Malpractice Attorney for Help
There is a risk to any medical procedure, and a positive outcome cannot be guaranteed. But when someone is unexpectedly left worse off following medical care, it is proper to demand answers. When medical malpractice has occurred, the injured should receive full and fair compensation.
The dedicated and compassionate medical malpractice lawyers of Schiller & Hamilton represent clients like you and can seek answers for you. We will provide you an honest assessment of your case for free and move forward aggressively on your behalf if possible. For more than 20 years, our attorneys have been helping families like yours in Rock Hill, Lancaster, Beaufort, Bluffton, and surrounding South Carolina communities. Contact us today to discuss your legal options.