Seattle Doctor Malpractice Lawyers
Holding Medical Professionals Responsible for Negligence
When medical professionals make mistakes, patients suffer. Doctors, nurses, dentists, psychiatrists, and anesthesiologists can cause serious and even fatal injuries when they behave negligently. In some instances, patients don’t recover, or their sickness is prolonged. As a result, victims often have huge medical expenses and struggle financially because they're unable to work, and pay a hefty emotional toll as well.
The experienced Seattle medical malpractice attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., understand how to protect victims' rights. Call us to find out how we can help you in a free consultation. We can be reached at (888) 228-3860.
Examples of Doctor Malpractice
There are many ways in which medical negligence happens. Here are few examples of incidents that lead to doctor malpractice claims:
- Missed or delayed diagnosis: Many serious conditions like cancer are best treated right away. Failing to order a test, to notice symptoms of cancer, or to diagnose and treat cancer can cost a patient his life. Some of the most commonly missed diagnoses involve heart diseases, infections, appendicitis, and various forms of cancer, including breast, colorectal, lung, cervical, prostate, and testicular.
- Birth injuries: When a baby is injured during labor or delivery, it could be a result of negligence or incompetence on the part of the doctor or medical professional. It must be determined if there was a failure to monitor the baby, a failure to respond to distress, or a failure to order a Cesarean section in time.
- Surgical errors: Any error made during surgery can have serious consequences. Injuring a nerve during surgery, performing an incision at the wrong location, operating on the wrong body part, or leaving in a piece of surgical equipment are all dangerous surgical errors.
- Anesthesia errors: Administering too much or too little anesthesia can result in heart issues, nerve damage, inadequate oxygen supply, and even death.
- Misread tests: Tests such as X-rays, MRIs, and ultrasounds reveal conditions in the body such as tumors, broken bones, and internal bleeding. It's a form of negligence to fail to order one of these tests, but it is also malpractice to order the test and then misread the results.
Medical Malpractice by Non-Doctor Healthcare Professionals
While doctors are the ones who most often have medical malpractice cases brought against them, other healthcare professionals are perfectly capable of negligence that causes injuries to patients. They are:
- Physician’s assistants (PAs) are fully licensed medical professionals, able to practice and prescribe medicine in all 50 states. Status-wise, they are beneath doctors but have more training than nurses. Usually, a PA will specialize in two or three areas of medicine, and comprises part of a healthcare "team" that works collaboratively to treat each patient. They can be held accountable in the same way as a doctor for a misdiagnosis, wrong treatment, and more.
- Home health aides help home-bound patients with daily tasks such as housekeeping, grooming, cooking, and dressing. The patients they help are typically elderly, disabled, chronically ill, or cognitively impaired. Medical malpractice cases against home health providers often involve neglect.
- Therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health workers have varying degrees of educational requirements and licensing allowances. For instance, psychiatrists can prescribe drugs, while psychologists cannot. Sexual assault and battery is not uncommon among these mental health workers, nor is fraud or causing intentional emotional distress. For instance, a psychologist may see that his patient is getting better but, in the interest of continued profit, brings up other things from her childhood or confuses her so she feels as though she needs to continue on with therapy. These mental health workers can also be found guilty of breach of trust, which can be considered medical malpractice, as all patient/doctor communication is confidential.
- Pharmacy technicians and pharmacists determine correct dosages, dispense medications, and in limited instances, prescribe medications. All of these things have a capacity for human error, and if a pharmacist breaches his standard duty of care towards patients and injury results, he may be guilty of medical malpractice.
- Radiologists administer X-rays, ultrasounds, and CT scans for diagnostic purposes. Usually, the radiologist will read the images and make the diagnosis as well. If this diagnosis is inaccurate and causes the patient further injury, it could be a case of medical malpractice. Also, if a radiologist doesn’t diagnose a patient’s condition in a reasonable time, particularly if the patient’s condition worsens during that time, this could be a case of delayed diagnosis - which is grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
- Anesthesiologists administer anesthesia, the medication that causes one to sleep during surgical procedures. If it is not monitored correctly, the anesthesia can cause severe injury or kill the patient. An anesthesiologist can also incorrectly read patient information before administering anesthesia, giving too much or too little, or the wrong type of anesthesia. All of these could be grounds for a medical malpractice case.
- Phlebotomists draw blood from patients. Anyone who has had blood taken before knows just how much can go wrong. The phlebotomist may not be able to find a vein, and poke and prod in the patient’s arm more than necessary. He or she may hit a nerve, which could result in lifelong nerve damage. Or the phlebotomist might not ensure that all of the equipment is sterile before using it, and contaminate a patient with illness or infection. Clean tools are a must for all healthcare professionals. If improperly sterilized equipment harms a patient, it’s a clear case of medical malpractice.
- Oncologists are doctors who diagnose and treat cancer. Because they’re working with cancer patients, any negligence can have severe consequences. The most common medical malpractice cases brought against oncologists are: failure to diagnose, failure to treat, errors made in administration of medication, lack of informed consent, or failure to follow safety procedures, to name just a few.
The healthcare industry is made up of dozens of different professions. When any one is negligent and a patient is hurt, the healthcare professional can be found liable for the costs of the injury.
Protecting Victims' Rights After Doctor Malpractice in Seattle
Victims of medical malpractice have an immediate goal: to recover compensation for hospital bills. But there are other losses to consider. Medical professionals and facilities can be held legally accountable for lost wages, the cost of future medical procedures, and even pain and suffering.
The experienced Seattle doctor malpractice attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., can help injured victims and their families better understand their legal rights and options. Call us at (888) 228-3860 to schedule your free and comprehensive case evaluation.
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