Medical Malpractice Lawyers

We all depend on our doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical professionals and trust that they will take proper care of us to help us get better when we are sick or injured. Medical professionals do an amazing job to alleviate suffering and to try to make peoples’ lives healthier. Here in America, we have the best medical care in the world.

But medical professionals are also human. They make mistakes, at times. Sometimes they may be rushing to take care of way too many patients in a short time frame, or they may just make a simple math error, or even just accidentally not notice that a technician put the wrong pills in the vial.

Medical malpractice lawyers help to protect patients from medical professionals’ mistakes to cover medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages caused by carelessness, negligence, and other medical errors.

No one should have to handle something this traumatic and stressful alone. You need someone to look out for your best interests so that no one takes advantage of you or deprives you of any compensation you deserve.

Proving Medical Malpractice in South Carolina

An injured patient must be able to prove that:

The patient and medical professional had a relationship and the medical professional had a duty of care.

The medical professional breached the duty of reasonable care.

The breach of reasonable care injured the patient.

If there was a mistake but the patient was not harmed, there is no claim. There are no damages that require compensation.

In South Carolina, there is a statute of limitations of “within three years from the date of the treatment, omission, or operation giving rise to the cause of action or three years from the date of discovery or when it reasonably ought to have been discovered, not to exceed six years from the date of occurrence.” (South Carolina Code of Laws section 15-3-545)

So after six years, you can no longer file a medical malpractice lawsuit in our state. There is an exception for a medical instrument or other medical device being left in someone’s body after surgery. You must file a claim within two years from the date the object was found.

Types of Medical Malpractice damages an injured patient may recieve

A patient who has experienced a significant injury or illness because of a medical provider’s negligence or breach of duty of care may be eligible to receive compensation for certain expenses like:

  • Economic damages:
    • Medical bills
    • Past lost wages
    • Future medical expenses
    • Compensation for future lost earning capacity
    • Disfigurement
  • Non-economic damages:
    • Pain and suffering
    • Mental anguish or emotional distress
    • A spouse’s loss of consortium
  • Punitive damages:
    • In extreme situations when the medical provider intended harm

 

South Carolina does have a statute for medical malpractice cases that “caps” the amount of compensation awarded to a plaintiff. Non-economic damages have a cap of $350,000 against a single medical provider or institution. For a judgment against multiple defendants, the cap is $1.05 million.

Medical Malpractice Statistics

The statistics are rather sobering.

According to Leveragerx.com:

  • The total payout amount for medical malpractice in 2018 nationwide was $4 billion.
  • The average malpractice payment was $348,065 in 2018.
  • Total medical malpractice payouts in SC in 2018 were over $40 million.
  • The top 4 payouts were for
    • Wrong diagnosis 34.1%
    • Surgery issues 21.4%
    • Treatment problems 21.1%
    • Obstetrics related 10.3%
Pie Chart of Medical Malpractice Payout Statistics by Type
  • 96.5% of payouts were paid as settlements. Only 3.5 cases went to court.
  • Highest payout amounts by the severity of the alleged outcome
    • Death 29.7%
    • Major permanent injury 18.7%
    • Significant permanent injury 18.4%
Pie Chart of Medical Malpractice Payouts by Outcome

Some of the areas of health care that tend to involve the greatest number of malpractice claims include the following:

  • Surgery
  • Anesthesia
  • Medication Errors
  • Incorrect Diagnosis

 

Sometimes we look at doctors and medical professionals as if they are incapable of making mistakes. We trust them too much. It’s wise to ask questions if you have concerns and to double-check behind your medical providers. If you keep up with things as much as you can, you may just be able to stop a medical error from causing you or a loved one serious harm.

Surgery Malpractice

Most people dread the thought of having surgery. We all understand that there are risks with anesthesia and risks of potential infections or complications. Sometimes these risks are unavoidable. It can be scary to think about going under anesthesia, all the cutting and difficulties of the surgery, and the recovery process.

We are thankful we have surgeons and other specialists who can take care of us when we have an urgent health problem that needs correction. Obviously, we can’t operate on ourselves. But we are entrusting our health and our very lives into the hands of the people in the operating room and recovery room. 

Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals involved in surgeries do make mistakes at times. Surgical equipment can accidentally be left in someone’s body. The wrong leg might be operated on. Staff may take inadequate precautions to prevent infection. Or a surgeon may injure you during surgery, accidentally nicking your liver or your bladder, causing complications later. 

If you or a family member have suffered a significant injury or illness (or even a wrongful death) because of a medical professional’s mistakes, negligence, or a lack of the standard of care, please contact a personal injury lawyer. You need someone who will look out for you and make sure that the defendant makes sure to pay you the damages you deserve.

According to Leveragerx.com, 

  • 21% of payouts for malpractice allegations in 2018 nationwide were for surgery issues.

According to www.medscape.com

  • 83% of general surgeons will face a lawsuit during their careers.

Anesthesia Malpractice

None of us want to go back to the Civil War era when people had no anesthesia and just had to bite on a leather strap during surgery. We are thankful for the wonderful technology of local anesthetics and general anesthetics. And we are glad for the expertise of nurse anesthetists and physician anesthesiologists. 

If you get in a car accident and need to have a compound leg fracture reset, it is much better for you to be asleep and not feel the pain of what the surgeon is doing. But we also know that local anesthesia and especially general anesthesia have risks.

According to www.medscape.com from the Medscape Malpractice Report in 2015:

  • Most anesthesiologists will face a lawsuit during their careers. 
  • The most common injury, by far, was that the patient suffered an abnormal injury.
  • Failure to save a life was the most common reason cited for a lawsuit.
  • Neurologic injuries, overdoses, dental injuries, surgical injuries, in-hospital infections, airway mishaps, and cardiac arrest during surgery were the most common reasons for lawsuits.

Anesthesiologists have a duty of care to provide safety for their patients. If they make a mistake that results in a person’s illness, injury, or death, they need to be held responsible for that mistake. And the injured person deserves to be compensated for the damages that the mistake caused.

Medication Errors

We all depend on doctors, nurses, and pharmacies to prescribe the right medications for our specific needs. We expect our treatments to make us better and to be safe. Most medical professionals don’t purposely make mistakes. But the reality is that they all do make mistakes, at times.

Doctors may rush to write a prescription, write the wrong drug, the wrong directions, or the wrong strength. Or a nurse or transcriptionist may read the doctor’s writing incorrectly and put the wrong drug on an electronic prescription.

Errors happen in pharmacies, as well, for a variety of reasons: look-alike drug names, sound-alike drug names, understaffing, high patient volumes, illegible doctors’ handwriting, skipping over drug interactions flags, and human error all contribute to potential mistakes that can harm patients.

Nurses can also make mistakes in hospitals. They may give one patient’s medication to the wrong person, give a patient the wrong medication, give it at the wrong time, or give it in the wrong way. They may not notice allergy bracelets or other alerts.

According to the National Institutes of Health in 2016 (in the US):

Adverse drug events account for over 3.5 million doctors’ visits, 1 million ER visits, and 125,000 hospital admissions each year.

  • Elderly patients are 2-3 times more likely to visit a doctor or ER for adverse drug events and 7X more likely to require hospitalization.
  • In the elderly, 1 in 30 hospital admissions is due to an adverse drug event.
  • The average hospitalized patient experiences at least one medication error per day.
  • Common high-risk medications include anticoagulants, narcotic drugs, insulin, and diabetes medication.
  • Medication errors harm approximately 1.5 million people per year.
  • Cost at least $3.5 billion each year.

The Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act requires healthcare facilities to report serious events (when a patient is harmed) and near misses (when an error occurred with the potential to cause harm but the patient was not injured)

Incorrect Diagnosis

You go to a doctor trusting that you will receive a correct diagnosis for your medical problem. You are sick or injured. You are suffering. And you depend on your medical provider to identify the problem and give you the proper treatment.

But sometimes doctors make mistakes. Maybe they are rushing. Maybe your situation is outside of their normal scope of practice. Maybe you have a rare condition that they missed.

The problem is, a mistake like that can be very costly for you. If you are being treated for the wrong thing, you may suffer harm. You may not get better or your condition may become worse. Or the treatment may actually hurt you because it is not what you needed.

Maybe you go to the doctor with chest pain. She diagnoses you with a pulled muscle and prescribes an anti-inflammatory. But what you really had was gastric reflux. Stomach acid was coming up your esophagus causing burning pain. The anti-inflammatory makes your reflux much worse. 

The prescription causes a stomach ulcer, making your pain even worse than it was. If you end up with a bleeding ulcer and lose a lot of blood, you may just be in a life-threatening emergency situation. You may even need to be hospitalized or have surgery if it goes on long enough and gets bad enough.

Of course, if it is a more serious situation, it could get even worse with greater risks and more expenses. You might even lose your ability to work and provide for your family.

According to Leveragerx.com, the average payout amount for an incorrect diagnosis that causes harm to the patient is $386,317 (2018)

Why do medical Professionals Make Mistakes?

Some medical professionals work in difficult conditions with long shifts, no lunch or restroom breaks, sometimes with significant staff shortages, and in very high-stress environments. This combines to create an atmosphere where mistakes are bound to happen. Medical professionals are trained on how to prevent medication errors, but sometimes they still occur. Especially when conditions are not ideal.

Some mistakes are caught and no one gets hurt but other mistakes can cause significant harm, injury, illness, or even death. Medical professionals may not want to make mistakes, but that doesn’t erase the harm that comes when terrible injuries happen. Legally, they are liable and should be held responsible for any medical errors they make that cause harm to their patients.

Do I need a Medical Malpractice lawyer?

If a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other medical professional made a mistake or was careless and you suffered a significant injury or harm because of their mistake, you may need legal representation.

Medical malpractice law firms help to make sure patients are treated properly and get the standard of care they need. A personal injury attorney will work with you to push through the legal hoops, red tape, and pushback from the medical practice or their insurance to be sure your personal injury case receives the attention it deserves.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers in south carolina

Schedule a free consultation to see if we can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.