You may be surprised to learn that medical errors are the third-highest cause of fatalities in the U.S. A study previously published by Johns Hopkins Medicine highlighted how, of just over 35 million annual hospitalizations that occur in the U.S., at least 251,454 of those patients die because medical malpractice occurs.
While many patients that experience medical malpractice recover from their injuries and go on to lead productive lives, each Baton Rouge medical malpractice lawyer at our law firm has, unfortunately, handled our fair share of cases in which victims have been left with lasting injuries or killed due to a medical provider’s negligence.
Know that if your life has been impacted by a medical malpractice incident, you do have rights. Our Baton Rouge, LA personal injury law firm, Bianca | Matkins, is eager to be your advocate in your medical malpractice case to ensure negligent doctors and other providers are held accountable for what they did. There’s no risk in scheduling a free case evaluation, so reach out to us to do so today. Our attorneys are authorized to practice law throughout the state of Louisiana.
Types of Medical Malpractice Claims Our Baton Rouge Law Firm Handles
There’s not one single situation that motivates patients to file Baton Rouge medical malpractice lawsuits, but instead, a whole host of situations, such as the following:
If you’ve seen any medical drama television shows, you may have noticed that it’s not always easy for doctors to diagnose a patient’s condition. Physicians are supposed to ask probing questions to rule out certain diagnoses and then order bloodwork or imaging studies to help them settle on an ultimate one, though.
Take, for example, broken bones or spinal cord injuries. A patient may continue to endure unnecessary pain and experience long-term growth issues unless broken bones are addressed in a timely fashion. And, in the case of spinal cord injuries, any chance of minimizing permanent damage must happen as soon as possible post-injury event.
Sometimes doctors don’t ask their patients the right follow-up questions necessary to reach an accurate diagnosis. Misdiagnosed patients may end up being discharged from the hospital emergency room without receiving proper medical care to stave off serious medical conditions like strokes or congestive heart failure that can cause them to suffer a cardiac event as a result. Physicians may also order unnecessary, invasive, and potentially damaging surgical procedures or treatments that a patient didn’t need because of the misdiagnosis.
On the flip side of the coin, physicians may avoid assigning a specific diagnosis to patients as they try to make sense of the combination of their symptoms. By the time doctors arrive at a diagnosis that they’re confident in, a patient’s medical status may have progressed so much that there is little chance of recovery from it. Standard, life-saving treatment options that can help send a cancer patient into remission may not be a viable option for patients who receive a delayed diagnosis once their condition has reached an advanced stage.
Some of the most common emergency room errors are diagnostic ones. These medical errors often occur because doctors and nurses are so overwhelmed treating a high influx of patients that they lose track of different symptoms each may be experiencing necessary to render an accurate diagnosis.
While it’s understandable this oversight can happen, it doesn’t make it okay. Meeting with a Baton Rouge medical malpractice lawyer for a free initial consultation gives you an opportunity to discuss what happened to you and whether the circumstances rise to the level of negligence. If it does, your Bianca | Matkins malpractice attorney will outline the legal process you can pursue to prove medical negligence, which is necessary for recovering compensation.
Informed Consent Issues
Health care professionals aren’t authorized to take care of patients without their expressed consent. This is why when you initially visit a Baton Rouge doctor or another medical provider, they’ll have you complete intake paperwork consenting to their treatment of you.
Additionally, should it become necessary for you to undergo an in-office procedure, surgery, or some other treatment option, you’ll also need to review and sign additional documentation, known as informed consent, acknowledging how you understand the risks and benefits associated with it. That document needs to also be clear as to your:
- Suspected diagnosis
- Alternatives to the recommended treatment option
- Pros and cons associated with the recommended procedure
If a doctor fails to consent patients before carrying out a treatment for a complete bowel obstruction, for example, and they suffer unexpected harm, a medical malpractice attorney may advise them of their right to file personal injury claims in Baton Rouge, LA to recover financial compensation for what they’ve been through.
So-called “never events” are surgical errors that shouldn’t ever happen. They include ones that surgeons perform on the wrong patient or body part or situations where they carry out the incorrect surgical procedure altogether. These aren’t the only examples of surgical mistakes that may warrant the filing of medical malpractice claims, though.
Other surgical situations that may also rise to the level of medical malpractice include:
- Instances in which a surgeon leaves a surgical instrument or medical supplies (like gauze) in a patient
- The surgeon or another member of the surgical team fails to closely monitor a patient’s vital signs and respond accordingly to them
- A surgeon perforates a patient’s vital organ (such as their liver) while making an incision or operating on a different body part, leaving them with compound harm
Every surgery comes with inherent risks. However, when adverse outcomes occur, a surgeon’s actions are compared to what other similarly trained physicians in the same geographic area would have done.
If your surgeon’s actions that caused you harm deviated from the standard of care other medical professionals would have provided, that’s when you may have the potential makings of a medical malpractice claim. One of our personal injury attorneys at the Baton Rouge, LA law firm, Bianca | Matkins, can help you assess whether your surgeon breached the standard of care they owed you.
Since anesthesia is used when performing almost every operation, it’s important to note that anesthesiologists can contribute to causing surgical errors as well. Some of the more common mistakes these physicians make include:
- Not administering the proper dosage of anesthesia necessary based on a patient’s body weight, age, desired outcome (length of time they want them to be out), and other factors
- Failing to verify whether a patient has previously experienced an adverse reaction to a specific anesthetic medication (and if so, not giving a patient it again)
- Not looking at pre-operative bloodwork and health records for the patient to determine what anesthesia is best suited for the situation
- Failing to monitor the patient’s vital signs throughout the surgery and taking the necessary precautions to address any concerns along the way
Anesthesiologists who fail to administer enough of the right sedative to patients may leave them vulnerable to waking up during their operation or medical procedure. The administration of too much or the incorrect drug may cause a patient to have difficulty waking up on demand.
Data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that in 2020, the U.S. maternal mortality rate climbed to 23.8 fatalities per 100,000 live births. The U.S. maternal death percentage has been steadily increasing over the past few years. The number of babies lost in utero is equally staggering.
Birth injuries to babies and mothers are also a big concern, especially in some of the following instances:
- The use of assistive devices such as vacuums or forceps can severely injure a baby as its body navigates the womb during childbirth
- An obstetrician’s failure to order a Caesarean section (C-section) when prenatal monitoring shows that a baby’s weight is above average, which can result in a baby’s shoulders getting stuck in the mom’s pelvis, resulting in a brachial plexus injury with residual nerve damage
- Inadequate monitoring of a mother’s vital signs during labor can cause fetal distress that deprives the baby of much-needed oxygen, resulting in brain damage and lifelong conditions such as cerebral palsy
Moms also have to worry about the potential of contracting hospital-acquired infections when undergoing a surgical procedure such as a C-section, and hemorrhaging out is a common birth injury that arises if a mom is not properly monitored before, during, and after childbirth.
A pharmaceutical company manufactures both over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Doctors prescribe medications to treat what ails you. A pharmacist dispenses drugs. While an anesthesiologist may administer sedatives intravenously to surgical patients, a nurse may administer a prescription drug to a patient instead of them remembering to take it themselves during their stay in a hospital or residence in a nursing home.
As you can likely tell, there are a lot of people involved in ensuring patients receive medication. There’s a lot that can go poorly along this supply chain, leaving a patient vulnerable to becoming victim to medication errors which can result in them suffering irreversible health declines or wrongful death, such as:
- A physician may prescribe a medication that a patient has previously had an adverse reaction to, that is contraindicated for their condition, or that can cause a harmful drug interaction
- Nurses or pharmacists may dispense the wrong medication or too much or little of a dosage causing adverse consequences, such as a worsening of a patient’s condition
- Pharmaceutical companies may maintain unsanitary manufacturing plants leading to patients receiving contaminated drugs or the wrong medication if quality assurance checks aren’t an operational priority for them
Receiving the right drug for a diagnosed condition and the correct formulation and appropriate dosage is key to keeping patients healthy and alive. You may want to consult with a Baton Rouge medical malpractice lawyer if you believe that your health decline or a loved one’s wrongful death is attributable to medication errors. Attorneys like ours at Bianca | Matkins often find that prospective clients meet the necessary requirements to file medical malpractice lawsuits or wrongful death claims in such instances.
How Long Do You Have To Sue for Medical Malpractice in Louisiana?
A statute of limitations is the amount of time post-accident a person has to civilly sue a responsible party for their negligence that caused them harm. Statutes of limitations vary by jurisdiction, and Louisiana has one of the shortest ones in the country.
Like any other personal injury case in Louisiana, medical malpractice victims generally are given only a year from the onset of their injury to take legal action and file a claim to recover compensation. There are some situations where it’s not immediately apparent that an individual has suffered any harm. In those instances, the statute of limitations starts when they realize someone has harmed them.
Is There a Cap on Recoverable Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases?
The term damages refers to any losses a person suffers due to the negligence of others. Louisiana law allows medical malpractice victims to seek compensation from the healthcare provider who they can show harmed them. However, unlike other personal injury cases in our state, Louisiana Revised Statutes 40:1231.2 (RS 40:1231.2) places a cap on how much plaintiffs can recover in medical malpractice cases like these at $500,000. This cap only applies to past medical treatments, not future medical care, though.
Additionally, it’s important to note that Louisiana has a Patient’s Compensation Fund, which is an affordable type of medical malpractice coverage available to private health care professionals in our state. Under this law, health care providers only have to accept financial responsibility and pay the first $100,000 on each claim. The healthcare provider can enroll in the Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund for any additional required umbrella coverage when faced with a medical malpractice claim.
Proving Medical Malpractice Occurred in Baton Rouge
Anyone intending to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit in Louisiana must establish the following four factors, known as elements, to move forward with their claim:
- The healthcare provider had certain responsibilities to a patient (also referred to as owing a patient a certain standard of care)
- The medical provider violated their patient’s rights by breaching the standard of care they were entitled to
- The subpar care the patient received caused them to suffer preventable injuries or illnesses
- The harm sustained by the plaintiff carries with it a financial toll (like medical bills)
Compiling Evidence To Prove Medical Negligence
Medical malpractice victims must compile evidence establishing liability for health care provider negligence to have a successful personal injury claim necessary to recover much-needed maximum compensation in their case.
Examples of pieces of evidence that can be critical in building medical malpractice claims in Louisiana include:
- Medical records and associated medical bills
- Medical professionals’ Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners (LSBME) disciplinary records
- Testimony from medical experts who have extensive medical knowledge related to your catastrophic injuries or illness and can provide expert witness testimony if needed
Bringing medical expert witnesses into Baton Rouge medical malpractice cases can strengthen the claim and is often necessary when insurers try to deny liability.
You only have one chance to prove your medical malpractice case. Don’t take that opportunity lightly. Make sure you have a medical malpractice attorney from our Baton Rouge office, Bianca | Matkins, involved from the start as you build insurance claims like this.
Why You Need a Baton Rouge Medical Malpractice Attorney To Build Your Case
Medical malpractice claims are notoriously difficult to build and win. Proving that medical malpractice injuries were preventable is the most difficult aspect associated with Baton Rouge cases like these.
Working with just any Baton Rouge medical malpractice lawyer won’t do. When suspected medical malpractice occurs, you need to ensure your legal representation has extensive experience handling a medical malpractice case like yours and is willing to pursue commercial litigation in a Baton Rouge, LA courtroom if necessary to make sure you receive a fair settlement that covers all your financial expenses—even lost wages you’ve sustained.
Rest assured that each Baton Rouge medical malpractice lawyer at Bianca | Matkins has decades of experience representing clients as they look to recover a fair settlement in civil legal matters like these. Our law firm helps victims themselves as well as their surviving family members recover damages for economic losses like medical bills, lost wages, and funeral or burial costs and also noneconomic ones associated with pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other related collateral consequences. Contact us to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in our office now.