While the opinion that any mistake made by a health care provider is one of malpractice is misguided, there are often circumstances that require taking several factors into account before that designation can be applied. One example of this seen by medical malpractice attorneys occurs when a patient who has been admitted to a hospital for treatment is discharged before they are medically stable enough to be released and return home. If that patient has to be readmitted for the same issue to that or another health care facility soon afterward, their initial discharge may qualify as medical malpractice.
Malpractice is measured against the medical standard of care, a term that describes the expected level of care that a health care provider of comparable skills would provide if given a patient with identical or very similar circumstances. If the care received by the discharged patient falls below the standard of care and the patient believes that under the care of a different doctor or facility they would not have been discharged so hastily, there could be grounds for medical malpractice. It should, however, be pointed out that readmittance alone does not automatically make an early discharge malpractice if it did not result in harm to the patient.
If a patient who is discharged early does come to harm as a result, their claim can include processes that the doctor or facility failed to provide that would have altered the outcome of the care, like scheduling a follow-up appointment or failing to order tests that would have made clear the patient’s medical instability. In cases of this nature, most patients seek damages for the cost of medical bills that would not have accrued if their treatment had been completed, lost earnings or lost ability to earn income due to conditions created by the premature discharge, and general pain and suffering. Because cases of medical malpractice can be complicated, patients who feel their claim is justified should seek the counsel of an experienced malpractice attorney.
When a patient who has been admitted to the hospital for treatment falls and sustains an injury while under their care, is that considered a case of medical malpractice? Falls that occur in hospitals are not uncommon, but when a patient is injured in a fall, all circumstances contributing to it need to be taken into account.
Situations of this nature are almost always classified as either ordinary negligence or medical malpractice.
- Ordinary negligence refers to cases in which someone falls due to preventable unsafe conditions. Injuries sustained in these cases have to be related directly to the fall and what caused it, and are unrelated to an existing condition for which the patient is receiving treatment. These cases do not require expert witnesses and proof of liability will focus on the facility’s maintenance and safety measures as related to the cause of the fall.
- Medical malpractice cases are more complicated.The patient who was injured in a fall has to have been actively receiving treatment from a doctor at the facility at the time the fall took place or at the time of whatever harmful act caused the eventual fall. The treatment the patient received also has to be proven to have been below the medical standard of care for that particular circumstance.
Falls may be considered malpractice when there is failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis of a condition which results in confusion or impaired mobility in the patient being treated who is then left unattended without proper safety measures. A patient who falls due to the side effects of multiple prescription medications may also have grounds for malpractice, as well a patient who may have reported dizziness or an existing condition like arthritis that could hinder their stability and who was not provided adequate assistance to prevent a fall.
The attorneys at Gordon & Doner are well educated in cases of medical malpractice and due to the complex nature of malpractice claims, advise you to seek professional legal counsel if you are considering taking action for a fall that left you or a loved one injured.
In the interest of providing a well rounded look at both sides of a medical malpractice case, the West Palm Beach medical malpractice law firm would like to share some of the details of two valid defenses that health care professionals who have been accused of malpractice can use. It’s important to keep in mind that while doctors who have performed their jobs in a manner below the medical standard of care and caused a patient real harm deserve to be held accountable for their actions, doctors who have performed their jobs well and been falsely accused in some way do not deserve to be punished.
Respectable Minority Defense
In cases where a health care professional believes that a new or unusual method of treatment would be the most potentially beneficial way to treat a patient, they might find themselves on the fringes of what would be considered mainstream medical practice. However, if the doctor has first discussed any possible risks involved with the proposed treatment and been given informed consent by the patient before the procedure, if that patient later attempts to file a malpractice suit, the doctor in question can use a defense that shows a respectable minority of other health care professionals also support that chosen method of treatment as a valid one.
“Good Samaritan” Laws
Most likely familiar to the public in name at least, several states have a “Good Samaritan” law that protects someone who voluntarily chooses to attend to another individual who is experiencing medical distress. Laws like these usually include medical professionals like doctors or nurses very specifically so that they are protected from civil liability in the event that something goes wrong during an emergency treatment. It should be understood that in an emergency situation, a doctor or other medical professional who goes to the aid of an individual in need should do so with the intention of giving them same duty of care and treatment standards that a comparably skilled doctor would provide under similar or identical circumstances.
We hope that this information has been somewhat enlightening. If you have further interest or questions regarding malpractice cases, we advise you to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney.