Fighting Mistakes in Medicine with Medical Malpractice Claims

September 19, 2012

Medical Malpractice

medical malpracticeAbout 195,000 patients in the United States die each year from preventable medical errors made in the hospital, a recent patient safety study reveals.

Another report published in Health Affairs journal indicates one of every three hospitalized patients in the U.S. encounters a hospital error.  Examples of such errors include:

(1). Being given the wrong medication

(2). Receiving the wrong dosage of medication

(3). Being unnecessarily exposed to potentially fatal staph infections

(4). Being treated by medical personnel who fail to diagnose or misdiagnosis an illness

(5). Many other mistakes made in treatment or aftercare

Medical malpractice laws in Ohio and other states are designed to help patients and family members recover from substandard care which has resulted in harm, injury or death to the patient.  There are extreme cases like the transplant patient who is given a diseased organ and the more routine such as unread patient tests.

Currently there are about 17,000 medical malpractice suits filed annually in the United States.  It is not just physicians who are named in these lawsuits.  Any medical professional—a doctor, nurse, physical therapist or psychiatrist—or an institution such as a clinic, hospital, or other health provider—can be a party to medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional fails to provide the quality of care that should be reasonably expected under the circumstances and as a result a patient is harmed.  This error or omission may occur through negligence, ignorance (the medical professional should have known), or less commonly from intentional wrongdoing. (Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary).

Generally, there are four elements to a successful medical malpractice claim.  The plaintiff (the person who initiates the suit) must prove that the defendant (the person being sued) had a duty to the plaintiff, usually established through a doctor-patient relationship.

Secondly, the plaintiff must show the defendant owed the plaintiff a reasonable standard of care under the circumstances and failed to meet that standard.  Expert testimony will likely be required here to try to establish the applicable standard of care was not met by the medical professional or provider, or in some cases, that it was not met by both parties.

Third, the plaintiff’s injury must actually exist, and it must be of a considerably serious nature.  (Considerable damage in an injury could include having to live in constant pain, injury that disables the plaintiff, suffering and enduring hardship, etc.)  The fourth element in proving a medical malpractice case is illustrating a cause-and effect link between the damage to the plaintiff and the defendant’s negligence, ignorance or omission.

If a person is not satisfied with the results of his surgery, this does not mean he has a medical malpractice case.  Medical results are not guaranteed and are sometimes different than either doctor or patient expected.  An injury without negligence is not malpractice and neither is alleged negligence without an injury.

Additionally, Ohio is one of the states that requires an Affidavit of Merit or Certificate of Merit to file certain types of medical malpractice claims. This is a statement that must be signed by a physician who meets expert witness requirements in the jurisdiction where the case is brought.

This expert must also verify he has reviewed all the records available in the lawsuit and that he is familiar with the applicable standard of care in this case, believes it was breached and that the breach caused the injury which is the subject of the claim.

There are two types of damages which are generally awarded to successful plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases—compensatory damages and less frequently, punitive damages.

Compensatory damages may include economic damages such as medical expenses, lost earning capacity, estimated past and future losses and costs of life care.  Non-economic damages such as psychological and physical injury, extreme pain and emotional distress are also categorized as compensatory damages.

Punitive damages are only awarded when a defendant is found guilty of malicious or willful conduct. Punitive damages are assessed in addition to compensatory damages.

The plaintiff has one year “after the cause of action accrues” to file a medical malpractice action or no more than four years from discovery of the injury to commence a lawsuit (Ohio Revised Code (ORC 2305.113 (A)).  If a wrongful death has occurred due to medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is extended to two years.

When you or a family member enters a hospital, doctor’s office, or medical clinic for treatment, you expect to receive the appropriate professional care. You don’t anticipate becoming permanently or severely injured by the actions or lack of action from medical professionals at that facility.

Unfortunately, things don’t always happen as one anticipates.  Medical malpractice in Ohio is a reality. There are errors in the delivery of babies, mistakes in the emergency room, nursing mistakes, errors in surgery or anesthesia and simple patient neglect.  Claims can involve complex litigation, negotiations with corporate ethics and dealing with large insurance companies.  When you face such litigation, you will need experienced Ohio personal injury attorneys who you can trust to recover maximum compensation for your injuries.

Please contact us, Slater & Zurz LLP,at 1-800-297-9191 for a free consultation to determine if medical malpractice has been committed and what action should be taken. You may also send a message from our website at

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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One Comment on “Fighting Mistakes in Medicine with Medical Malpractice Claims”

  1. Raina Duck Says:

    Intestinal troubles after operation may be a indicator of a staph infection, according to the Mayo Clinic. Vomiting and feelings of nausea after surgical treatment may result from toxic shock syndrome, that is a serious problem brought on by widespread staph infection. Individuals who have a feeding tube implanted immediately after surgery have got a bigger chance of getting staph infections as a result of contamination of the tube.^

    Most current short article on our website


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