The legal world of medical wrongdoing is filled with all kinds of jargon and unusual concepts. Without proper explanation, these can seem overwhelming and alien to many people.
As a result, we have curated this comprehensive guide to understanding medical wrongdoing. Our goal is to equip you with the knowledge needed to identify, respond to, and seek justice in instances of medical negligence.
If you or a loved one received poor care from a doctor, you’ll want to read on to learn about how you can protect your rights and possibly receive compensation.
What Is Medical Wrongdoing?
Medical wrongdoing. Medical malpractice. Medical negligence. This concept goes by many names. Yet regardless of the exact phraseology, medical wrongdoing describes a situation in which a healthcare provider deviates from the accepted standards of practice in the medical community.
As a result of this deviation, they cause harm to a patient. This deviation can occur in many different ways. It may happen because a medical provider took the wrong action or failed to act. Perhaps there was an unexplainable delay in treatment or misdiagnosis. Other common examples include prescription errors, surgical mistakes, or a failure to obtain informed consent.
Three Examples of Medical Wrongdoing
Because medical wrongdoing can take so many different shapes, it’s helpful to visualize three specific hypothetical situations to understand the impact these errors have on human beings.
First, let’s consider the case of Mary. She’s a 40-year-old woman. Last June, she visited her primary care physician with complaints of persistent fatigue and unexplained weight loss.
Although these symptoms are all common symptoms of thyroid disorders, her doctor didn’t bother to test her thyroid function. Instead, he attributed her symptoms to stress and told her to rest.
By December, Mary’s condition was significantly worse. Her fatigue had become so severe that she could hardly get out of bed in the morning. Upon seeing a different physician, she learned she had advanced thyroid cancer. The delayed diagnosis meant she had to undergo aggressive treatment and face a poorer prognosis.
John is a 52-year-old man who loves playing racquetball and running. Unfortunately, years of doing these activities took their toll, so he had to undergo knee replacement surgery. During the operation, the surgeon inadvertently left a small surgical instrument inside John’s knee.
Over time, this instrument error led to a severe infection. John had to stay in the hospital for three weeks and undergo another surgery to remove the instrument. After that, he was unable to work for six months. Now, he can’t sleep because he has hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills from the doctor’s mistake.
Now imagine Lisa, a 30-year-old woman with a severe penicillin allergy. She’s had this allergy all her life, and multiple doctors have noted it in her medical record. Despite this, a nurse mistakenly administered a medication containing penicillin.
Lisa suffered an anaphylactic reaction and was in a coma for two weeks. Ever since the incident, she has suffered from a heightened fear of hospital visits because she’s afraid someone else will make the same mistake again.
What Kinds of Injuries Result from Medical Wrongdoing?
The aftermath of medical wrongdoing can lead to an array of injuries. The consequences of these injuries range from mild discomfort to severe disability and even death. These consequences often extend beyond physical harm, impacting the mental, emotional, and financial well-being of the victim and their families.
This is typically the most obvious outcome of medical wrongdoing. It may include injuries like brain damage resulting from a lack of oxygen during a surgical procedure, paralysis due to a mishandled spinal procedure, or infection caused by unsterilized medical instruments.
Sometimes, the physical harm is a worsening of the patient’s original condition due to misdiagnosis or delayed treatment. Sadly, death is not uncommon. Some studies claim medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
Psychological and Emotional Distress
It’s vital to remember that patients who have experienced medical wrongdoing frequently suffer significant psychological and emotional harm.
This could manifest as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or a complete loss of enjoyment of life. The fear and mistrust that can develop toward medical professionals can also hinder future healthcare experiences.
Physical and emotional injuries often cascade into other areas of victims’ lives, leading to financial strain. The financial impact of medical wrongdoing can be severe.
Patients may face hefty medical bills for additional treatments, surgeries, or long-term care because of the injury. If the injury results in an inability to work, patients may suffer a temporary or permanent loss of income.
Remember, each patient’s experience with medical wrongdoing is unique. In addition, the nature of each victim’s injuries varies widely. This diversity underscores the importance of individualized legal support when addressing the consequences of medical wrongdoing.
What Is the Rule of Law for Medical Wrongdoing?
The rule of law for medical wrongdoing hinges on four key elements that the plaintiff, or injured party, needs to prove. These elements are duty, breach, causation, and damages. Let’s unpack these a little bit.
Duty means that you have to prove that the healthcare provider had a duty of care toward you as the patient. Next, you have to show that the doctor breached that duty by deviating from the standard of care.
Third, you need to show that the doctor’s breach of duty led to your harm. Finally, you need to demonstrate that this harm caused you to suffer financial, physical, or emotional damages.
It’s crucial to understand that each medical negligence case is unique, with its own set of circumstances and applicable laws, often making them complex and challenging to navigate.
Let Us Help You Put Your Life Back Together
Medical malpractice cases can involve many different legal concepts and facts at the same time. As a result, it’s best to consult an experienced medical wrongdoing attorney if you want to get an accurate picture of your situation.
At Dempsey Kingsland Osteen, our passion is to help those who suffer because of the negligent and thoughtless acts of others. We strive to give all medical wrongdoing victims a voice in the legal system, and our goal is to help you defend your rights.
Although there are many law firms in Missouri, our firm is a cut above the rest. The firm’s founders bring over 100 years of combined experience. In addition, each one of our attorneys has a long track record of success for their clients in many different kinds of cases.
We employ a board-certified physician and an exceptional nurse consultant to provide a sterling amount of medical expertise to our practice. If you’re ready to learn more about your legal options, contact us today by phone or online to schedule an appointment.