When the Stakes Are the Highest. Fighting for Maximum Recovery for Your Loss.
Indianapolis – Indiana Medical Malpractice Steve Wagner
Indianapolis – Indiana Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Medical malpractice implies an act or lack of action or omission by a medical care provider or medical facility which fails to exercise acceptable care, proficiency or diligence and deviates from the recognized standard of practice in the medical profession and results in injury or death to the patient.
At Wagner Reese, we hold the medical profession in high regard, but when a physician or medical staff does not perform up to professional standards, legal accountability becomes necessary. Since 1997, Wagner Reese has been earning recognition throughout Indiana and nationally as an Indianapolis personal injury law firm that focuses on medical malpractice cases. If you or a family member has been a victim of medical malpractice which resulted in injuries or death, please contact the medical malpractice attorneys’ offices of Wagner Reese to discuss your injury or illness resulting from medical negligence, medication/anesthesia errors, delivery room errors, failure to diagnose, or incompetence.
A man who sustained a pierced colon during a routine colonoscopy that was not timely diagnosed by radiologists and general surgeon despite clear indication on film imaging. As a result of the delay in diagnosing the leaking colon, the patient sustained infections caused by sepsis and required additional surgeries. The case settled just before trial for $1.137M.
This malpractice claim was brought for the parents of a baby girl who died thirteen days after she was born. During labor, the baby’s fetal heart rate showed absent accelerations and intermittent late decelerations which were non-reassuring of fetal well-being. In light of these signs of distress, the standard of care called for the baby to be delivered immediately via emergency C-section. The doctor never physically came into the hospital to see Mom or her baby. The baby was delivered the next day but due to oxygen deprivation, she died thirteen days later. Our firm alleged that the healthcare providers failed to communicate with one another or timely intervene to save the baby’s, all of which constituted a deviation from the standard of care. The medical review panel found that the OB/GYN, his group and the hospital all failed to comply with the applicable standard of care. The defense finally settled the case which resulted in a total recovery of $1,077,000.
A mother brought a medical malpractice and wrongful death claim for her 25-year-old son who died in jail. He had no wife or children. The decedent died due to the failure of the jail’s physician to give timely medical attention and transfer him to a hospital for evaluation of a serious head injury that he sustained while he was in custody. As a result of the delay in transfer, his brain injury worsened and passed away. Our firm brought a malpractice claim against the doctor who failed to order the transfer despite a clearly deteriorating condition. The case settled before the medical review panel rendered an opinion for $490,000.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Indiana medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or hospital causes injury to a patient by failing to provide them with acceptable care. In general, if a healthcare provider deviates in care for a patient (either failing to act or acting differently) than how others with similar training would have reasonably acted, the provider may be liable for any damages that result. In most cases, it involves a medical error that was either a negligent act or failure to act.
The premise behind all medical malpractice lawsuits is simple: negligence on the part of a medical professional. Doctors and other medical professionals owe a duty to their patients to practice medicine with the degree of skill, care, and diligence possessed by any reasonably competent physician under the same circumstances. These professionals breach their duty of care when they fail to live up to this standard.
Negligence occurs at every stage in the treatment process and may involve many types of health care providers, including doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, pharmacists, lab technicians, physical therapists, or dentists.
Insurers paid out about 30 percent of those funds for medical errors resulting in death. Significant permanent injuries accounted for 18 percent of the payouts, major permanent injuries accounted for 17 percent, while brain damage, quadriplegia, and lifelong-care injuries accounted for 13 percent.
How to Prove Medical Malpractice
Four facts are needed to prove medical malpractice in Indiana:
An injury was suffered
Medical facility or doctor caused the injury
Medical facility or doctor provided the care
Medical facility or doctor did not provide care that was consistent and acceptable by medical standards
If you can prove these four things, you may be able to collect damages in a med mal case. Remember that there is a statute of limitations on these types of cases, so you act quickly and contact an attorney for a free consultation right away. In Indiana the statute of limitations for a medical injury is two years from when the act occurred. However, there are exceptions in cases involving young children, who have until their eighth birthday to file a claim. Additionally, if the damage was not discovered until a much later date, exceptions can be made.
Types of Medical Malpractice
There are a wide range of mistakes by doctors, nurses and medical staff that can cause treatment to go awry. However, by learning more about some of the most common types of medical errors, we hope you can get a better understanding of what may have occurred in your own situation. Getting a thorough and objective review of your case by an experienced medical malpractice medical malpractice lawyer is a critical first step in seeking justice you deserve.
Misdiagnosis, Delayed Diagnosis, or Failure to Diagnose
A misdiagnosis of one’s symptoms can lead to unnecessary treatment or the failure to get timely treatment. It can occur when a doctor fails to thoroughly examine and communicate with a patient or fails to conduct proper tests. In some cases, the missed or delayed diagnosis may be traced to the doctor’s lack of knowledge and experience. The damage may be irreversible in some cases, especially in cases involving cancer or heart attacks.
Cancer misdiagnosis occurs from 15-28% of the time, according to a study by the National Coalition of Health. Among the causes of misdiagnosis are incorrect interpretation of results, sticking to medical protocol to rigidly rather than considering the individual case, fragmented medical records and incomplete family histories, and doctors lacking adequate time to commit to the case.
When an X-ray, slide or ultrasound is misread by a physician, it can be deemed either a “false positive” (diagnosing the patient with a condition that does not exist) or a “false negative” (failing to detect the patient’s actual condition). In either case, the misreading can lead to ineffective or missed treatment, which places the patient’s health in serious jeopardy.
Other examples and reasons for misdiagnosis medical malpractice include ordering an improper test, failing to recognize symptoms, failing to listen to the patient, and failure to get an accurate medical history.
Emergency Room Errors
Emergency rooms can be rushed, hectic environments. Due to these conditions, doctors, nurses, and staff may make mistakes in testing, diagnosing, and treating patients. In some instances, important information may not be communicated when a patient is “handed off” to another medical professional in the ER. Hospitals should have systems in place to prevent these errors.
Unfortunately, many careless mistakes can be made during surgery. These errors include operating on the wrong site, puncturing an organ or leaving behind a foreign object such as a sponge or surgical instrument. Surgeon distraction, fatigue, inexperience, and miscommunication are among leading causes for grave mistakes that can occur during surgery.
Failure to Monitor
Even though doctors, nurses and staff have around-the-clock access to patients in the hospital, they may fail to routinely check on them and detect bleeding, infections or changes in vital signs that require immediate attention. In some cases, patients may suffer from Stage 4 bedsores (pressure ulcers) due to improper monitoring of their condition.
Birth injuries often occur because doctors, nurses or midwives missed signs and symptoms before the mother went into labor or failed to respond promptly to signs of trouble during the delivery or C-section. The mother may suffer injuries as well as the child. In many instances, the child’s injury may cause a lifelong disability such as Cerebral Palsy.
Birth injuries and birth trauma can result in, amongst other effects, intellectual disabilities and head trauma, Cerebral Palsy, Erb’s Palsy, Shoulder Dystocia, and in some instances wrongful death.
Complications may occur because a patient wasn’t properly evaluated before or monitored during the administration of anesthesia. For instance, a patient may be allergic to certain types of anesthesia and suffer an adverse reaction. Doctors and nurses may fail to respond promptly to the patient’s distress because they were not carefully checking the patient’s vital signs.
There are three types of anesthesia administration: general, regional, and local. Any of the three can be used depending on the circumstance. The scariest situation involving anesthesia errors is when it wears off mid-surgery and the patient can feel what’s going on without being able to signal that they are awake.
Examples of anesthesia errors include administering the wrong drug or the wrong dose, giving a drug to an allergic patient, using the machine incorrectly, or using faulty equipment.
With a severe brain injury, speech problems, as well as reading, writing, and listening comprehension problems, are common. Emotions can be exacerbated or deadened. Length of recovery time varies widely, but the rehab process is often slow, as it can be weeks or months before the victim is back to normal. Sadly, in more severe cases, victims may never fully return to their previous state.
Brain injuries can be caused by birth errors, botched surgery, and faulty equipment that cuts off oxygen flow to the brain
A patient may suffer serious or fatal illness due to being prescribed the wrong type or dose of medication. One leading cause of medication errors is miscommunication, such as a pharmacist misreading the abbreviations, symbols and dose expressions on a prescription sheet due to the doctor’s illegible or confusing handwriting.
Examples include being given the wrong drug or the wrong dosage, leading to great pain and suffering and a serious injury.
Defective Medical Devices
Technology has changed the way we look at medical care and continues to push to give more and more people their lives back following the diagnosis of a disease or a tragic accident. But when life-saving technology, such as a pacemaker, fails to work properly, the outcome can be fatal.
Three types of failures that can occur are design defects, manufacturing defects where the product does not work properly, and inadequate warnings. In these instances, the manufacturer of the device may be sued. Additionally, medical professionals may misuse the device, or give proper instructions to the patient. In this case, the medical professional and the health care provider are at fault.
If the hospital fails to do proper background checks and hires any unqualified employees, they may be liable for that person’s incompetence.
There is also what’s known as vicarious liability. This means that hospitals have a duty of care to supervise and guide their employees. Hospitals are vicariously liable when their employees are negligent and cause injuries. Hospitals can also be liable for systemic problems, such as unclean instruments that cause infections and long emergency room wait times that seriously exacerbate a condition.
Causes of Medical Malpractice Errors
Many hospital employees work with the same patient, with frequent shift changes and swaps when the primary physician or nurse is too busy. Clear and concise documentation is key, and even then, there is the possibility of misinterpretation. If communication does not occur, then the patient could be vulnerable to medication errors or misdiagnosis.
Lack of resources, especially in low-income or rural areas, may result in you not getting proper treatment. This may include medical devices or even qualified medical professionals.
Part of med school includes rotations, where students work in the hospitals in the later years of their studies, prior to graduation. They rotate through medical specialties, under supervision of physicians. However, if a student (or even a young, newer doctor) does not have the proper supervision or support, they may be in a situation where they must make quick decisions beyond their competency. This is more likely to occur in understaffed hospitals.
Sleep deprivation is a common problem in hospitals, especially among young interns who are forced to work 24-hour shifts for their post-graduate training. Fatigue increases rates of errors and these can be extremely costly.
When health records are not up to date or not readily available, mistakes can be made. In some instances, patients who should not have been released were discharged, putting them at serious risk. Most hospitals use electronic health record systems, which are not infallible, and should not be treated as such.
Medical Malpractice Accident Procedures
Follow the procedures below, if a medical doctor has made an error that caused injury:
Remain Patient – Talk with your doctor first—a doctor may possibly admit they made an error. But don’t think that just because a mistake was made, your malpractice case is won.
Be Prepared – Collect all your medical information, such as, prescriptions, names and contact information of doctors, dates of appointments, and reasons for treatment.
Contact an Attorney – Contact a local medical malpractice lawyer. The discussion of your medical malpractice case should only be between you and your medical malpractice lawyer, and don’t sign anything from your physician or his insurance company.
You can also take steps to minimize your risk for a medical malpractice incident in the first place. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has a list of best practices to help hospital visits, both short- and long-term, run smoothly.
Give a thorough report of your medical history, including allergies
Inform doctors of all medications – it may help to bring them to the hospital with you
Let them know if you don’t understand or have concerns, especially when surgery is involved
Ask about side effects
Make sure doctors and nurses are on the same page
What Is My Medical Malpractice Case Worth?
Medical malpractice cases are complicated, and each one is so different that there are few set rules of what you can recover in damages. Some states, including Indiana, have imposed laws that cap or limit the maximum amount of money an individual can recover in a medical malpractice suit. When you meet with us to discuss your medical malpractice claim, we will discuss current laws and limitations. Currently, the maximum amount recoverable from a qualified medical provider in Indiana is $1.65 million dollars.
Factors that go into determining how much your case is worth include:
Current and Future Earnings Loss
Pain and Suffering
Loss of Consortium – Wrongful Death
Indiana Medical Malpractice Facts
$1.65 million state enforced medical malpractice claims cap
$250,000 maximum doctor’s or hospital’s insurance company’s responsibility
$122,297 average payout per claim in Indiana
About our Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Stephen Wagner and Jason Reese can handle your medical malpractice claim with years of experience and proven results. Call the law firm of Wagner Reese today 888-710-9377 for your FREE consultation!
Unfortunately, statistics show that Hoosiers become victims of medical malpractice virtually every day. At our law firm, Wagner Reese, we help families who have been catastrophically injured or lost a loved one as a result of medical negligence.
Hi, I’m Jason Reese. I’m here to tell you a little bit about Indiana medical malpractice law. First, you should know that Indiana malpractice claims are complicated. No matter how bad someone is hurt, state law limits the recovery, even if you have lost a loved one. Second, after you file a complaint, your case must be reviewed by a panel of three doctors before it can be heard in the court of law. This three-person panel will vote on two primary issues: 1) was there a deviation in the standard of care, and 2) was the deviation a factor in the resulting damages?
If the panel rules against your case, then this opinion can be used as evidence against you when your case goes to trial. Because medical malpractice claims are one of the most difficult areas of litigation, you need an experienced lawyer who can demonstrate that your damages were the result of medical negligence. To succeed, you often need medical experts working on your behalf to win.
Keep in mind that there are strict time limitations that apply to your case. Consult an attorney on this legal issue. A negligent health care provider can be a doctor, a nurse, or a member of hospital staff. It can even be someone at a nursing home or an EMT.
We’ve handled a number of medical malpractice cases. Some examples include birth trauma, shoulder dystocia, failure to timely diagnose diseases like cancer, meningitis, or heart attacks. We’ve also handled surgical error complication cases as well as nursing home neglect.
If you or a loved one have fallen victim to medical negligence, you do have rights. By pursuing legal action, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries, as well as other costs, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
At our law firm, we can help your family. We’ll even hire qualified experts to review your case free of charge to determine how strong it is. Bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit is serious business. Our firm can help you and your family. Please give us a call or send us an email, and we’ll be happy to offer a free consultation, either at our office or in the convenience of your own home.
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