We expect doctors and other medical professionals to perform to a high standard of proficiency. Patients sometimes sustain injuries or illnesses when doctors fail to uphold their standard of care. Errors made by doctors and surgeons can even lead to death or permanent disability. Medical malpractice results in roughly 250,000 deaths in the United States each year, according to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Medical malpractice cases are more complex than car accidents or other personal injury cases. Patients and families of patients can pursue legal damages, but a burden of proof applies. You must prove that medical negligence led to your loved one's injury or illness.
Negligence is a careless act or failure to act in a responsible manner that leads to someone's injury or death. There are four criteria that must be proven in medical malpractice cases to establish that negligence occurred.
The following circumstances must apply:
- Duty of care — The doctor or surgeon must have had owed a duty of care dedicated to the patient. Duty of care applies as long as a doctor or surgeon agrees to treat a patient for an injury or health condition. To establish duty of care in a medical malpractice case, another doctor or surgeon with the same specializations and credentials must explain how he or she would have acted in the same circumstances.
- Deviation from duty of care — The doctor or surgeon must have deviated from the duty of care owed to the patient. This often includes:
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
- Surgical errors, such as unnecessary surgery, wrong-side surgery or wrong-site surgery
- Prescribing the wrong medication or dosage
- Ignoring symptoms of an injury, illness or health condition
- Failing to order proper testing
- Ignoring or misreading lab results
- Failing to properly document the patient's medical history
- Prematurely discharging the patient
- Providing poor follow-up care
- Anesthesia errors
- Damages accrued — Financial and non-economic damages must have resulted from the patient's injury or illness. This may include:
- Current and future medical costs
- Wage loss
- Pain, suffering and mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Long-term disability
- Loss of a loved one — loss of consortium, guidance, and companionship; medical expenses and potential income of the dead person; and burial expenses.
- The connection between deviation of duty and damages — There must have been a connection between the standard of care and the patient's injury or illness. This can be confirmed and proven by medical documents, witness statements and other critical pieces of evidence.
Get an experienced Maine medical malpractice attorney on your side
If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to a medical error, the stakes are too high to handle your case alone. Get a strong legal advocate on your side who will leave no stone unturned when handling your case.
The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein has been helping victims of medical malpractice throughout Maine get the justice they deserve since 1974. We work closely with experts who specialize in medical malpractice claims and will investigate the doctor, surgeon or medical facility where the negligence occurred. Our colleagues will gather the facts needed to prove that you have a solid case and we will fight to maximize your compensation.
Our law offices are conveniently located in Sanford, Biddeford, Portland, Windham, Lewiston, Augusta and Bangor. We offer free and confidential case evaluations to our clients. Contact us online to find out how we can help you.