In our civil justice system, all persons are expected to be reasonably careful when it comes to the health and safety of others around them. Failure to do so is considered negligence, and injuries or damages that result can give rise to a personal injury case. The standard of what constitutes this duty of “reasonable care” is defined by the circumstances presented in the case, which sometimes includes the relationship between the parties, or the defendant’s occupation.
Although cases involving doctors, surgeons, nurses, therapists, hospitals, nursing homes, or other health professionals are often labeled as “medical negligence” in print media and on television, the Ohio Revised Code does not actually include any definition of the phrase. From a legal perspective, the word “negligence” is essentially meaningless, as the required elements in these cases are the same as other personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits: (1) Did the defendant act - or fail to act - in a manner that a reasonably careful doctor, surgeon, nurse, or other health care provider would have under the circumstances? (2) If not, did the medical negligence cause injury or damages to the plaintiff?
Medical negligence (or “negligence”) can manifest itself in many forms, and can have devastating effects for patients and their loved ones. Indeed, studies have suggested that preventable medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in our country behind only heart disease and cancer. In addition to the physical harms and loss of life that these errors can cause, they oftentimes place tremendous financial burdens on the families involved due to the need for additional treatment costs, and sometimes long-term care. Some of the more common scenarios that can give rise to a claim against a medical professional include an incorrect or untimely diagnosis, retained surgical items, prescription errors, early discharge from a facility, delays during the birthing process, and improper (or obsolete) treatment recommendations.
Causes of medical negligence that frequently show up in courtroom cases include:
- Exhaustion and fatigue (long hours)
- Miscommunication between branches of clinic
- Inadequate staff on-hand for emergencies
- Ineptitude and a general lack of supervision
- Illegible prescriptions
- Misidentified patients (clerical errors)
While one can acknowledge that it can be difficult and very stressful to work in a hospital or medical clinic, providers who hold themselves out as professionals and offer medical services to the public should not be excused for failing to exercise a reasonable level of care. When people come to a professional for medical treatment, they have the right to expect it to be accurate, efficient, and safe. They should not have to worry about whether or not they are going to go home in a worse conditions than when they arrived there in the first place.
At Rourke & Blumenthal, our attorneys have a decades of experience in the effective pursuit of medical negligence cases. Our record of success includes the following;
- A $3.5 Million settlement for a patient who suffered an anoxic brain injury after providers failed to monitor him after he had been given narcotic medication
- A $2.7 Million settlement for the family of a young child who died as a result of a prescription error
- A $5.3 Million combined verdict and settlement for a woman who suffered paralysis due to delays in the treatment of a spinal epidural abscess
- A $4.8 Million settlement for the wrongful death of a patient who contracted meningitis during a procedure as a result of contaminated equipment
- A $1.3 Million verdict for the wrongful death of a man who died from complications of excessive chemotherapy treatments
How Long You Have to File a Claim
Under Ohio law, medical negligence cases are typically governed by a one-year statute of limitations period during which a case must be filed or it is forever barred. If an injury is not discovered right away the one year clock begins ticking on the date of discovery, or the date the injury should have reasonable been discovered.
Ohio does, however, impose a four year statute of repose. This means that not matter the date of discovery there is a maximum of four years to file a claim. There are other exceptions to the one year rule for special circumstances. Furthermore, the investigation and review of medical records can sometimes be a months-long process before it can be determined if a case is viable.
If you believe that you, or a loved one, has been harmed as a result of a medical error, please contact the attorneys at Rourke and Blumenthal as soon as possible.
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