Medical malpractice is the third-leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. A recent John Hopkins study found that 250,000 Americans die from these preventable medical errors every year.
Medical errors can ravage victims’ bodies and their personal lives, leaving not just physical scars, but emotional ones, too. Some victims must undergo additional medical procedures. Others are left with permanent cognitive and functional disabilities. They may never work in their chosen profession again, and often have to contend with huge and unexpected medical and personal expenses.
When negligence causes an individual to suffer an injury, the negligent party is often liable for the victim’s damages. In other words, the party whose negligent actions caused injury may be required to financially compensate the victim for the expenses she incurs because of her injury. This is true in nearly any situation where one party’s negligence leads to another’s injury. When a physician or another type of healthcare professional causes a victim to suffer an injury or a worsened medical condition through negligence, the victim may seek compensation for his damages through a medical malpractice claim.
Are you the victim of medical malpractice? Did you suffer serious injuries because of negligently delivered healthcare services? Don’t wait—get help immediately.
We are experienced medical malpractice attorneys in Petersburg. We’ll review your claim. If we agree to represent you, we’ll work hard to get you the compensation you deserve.
Schedule a free consultation or contact us at (804) 358-1568.
We Get Results
Our firm works hard to get justice for medical malpractice victims. We’ve received accolades for our professionalism and commitment to our clients. U.S. News and World Report named us to its Best Lawyers® Best Law Firms list for Personal Injury Litigation-Plaintiffs Tier 1 for the three years in a row.
Here are some favorable outcomes we have achieved for our clients.
- $3 million medical malpractice settlement - Our firm helped a 50-year-old woman recover compensation after she suffered severe injuries because of a physician’s negligence. The victim, who was an Emporia, Virginia, resident, traveled to Washington, D.C. for an operation to have a large cyst removed from her abdomen, only to be left with organ damage and the loss of a kidney as a result of an error by the surgeon.
- $1.65 million settlement - After our client underwent a routine laparoscopic cholecystectomy, the surgeon asked his partners to check if he perforated her small bowel if she returned. When she came to the ER reporting bowel perforation symptoms, the surgeon’s partners were notified, but they decided she did not have a perforated bowel—without investigating that possibility. While in the hospital, one of the laparoscopy wounds burst open. The patient endured several surgeries to repair her abdomen, causing her to drop from 127 pounds to 87.
- $1.5 million verdict - An Ob-gyn failed to diagnose and treat a pelvic abscess, resulting in a new mother’s infertility.
- $1 million settlement - When surgeons removed a cancerous lesion from our client’s colon, they reattached her colon to her vagina, not her rectum, causing her to defecate through her vagina until a complicated and painful repair surgery took place 10 days later.
- $900,000 medical malpractice jury verdict - A DEA agent suffered a complicated stress fracture of the right femur. At the hospital, he underwent a surgical procedure that lasted more than five hours, contrary to the standard of care that only allows for two and a half hours of continuous traction. He suffered permanent nerve damage affecting both legs and permanent sexual dysfunction.
Note: Every case is different. The recoveries in these cases are no guarantee of recovery in future cases.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional or provider wrongfully fails to deliver the medical standard of care to a patient, thereby harming the patient. Medical malpractice may occur, for instance, when doctors or providers:
- Fail to monitor their patients’ health condition;
- Commit a preventable medical error during surgery;
- Improperly prescribe medication; or
- Misdiagnose a patient’s medical condition.
- Misread mammograms
- Misdiagnosis of breast cancer
Medical malpractice claims are often grouped with personal injury claims, but there are a few key aspects of medical malpractice claims that set them apart from other types of negligence claims. Every medical procedure has what is known as a standard of care: a set of precautions and actions a health care provider should reasonably take when preparing for, performing, managing, or following up after a procedure. When a healthcare provider deviates from this standard of care, she has committed medical malpractice, and her victim may seek financial compensation for any resulting damages.
Under Virginia law, a claim for medical malpractice may seek damages for personal injuries or wrongful death. A victim of medical malpractice may be entitled to bring a claim against an individual healthcare provider, a provider’s employer, or against persons rendering medical care without proper certification or licensing, among others.
Seeking Compensation for Your Medical Malpractice Damages
Not all medical injuries are due to health care provider negligence; sometimes, a health care provider can do everything correctly, and the patient can still suffer an adverse reaction or an injury. It is only when the health care provider is deemed to be negligent and this negligence directly causes the victim’s injury or worsened condition that the patient has grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
Like other types of personal injury claims, a medical malpractice claimant must provide evidence to support his or her claim. This evidence should demonstrate the negligence of the healthcare provider and the dollar amount of the victim’s damages. These damages can include your medical bills, your lost wages, and any noneconomic expenses you experience—known collectively as “pain and suffering damages.” Evidence to support a medical malpractice claim can include:
- Medical bills for any necessary corrective treatment
- Documentation of your lost wages and missed career opportunities due to time out of work or a disability related to the injury
- Photographs of your injury
- Documentation to support your claim of healthcare negligence. In a case alleging an incorrect diagnosis, documentation of the original diagnosis is necessary to support the claim. In a case alleging insufficient follow-up care, documentation showing your discharge and a lack of further engagement from the health care provider is necessary.
- Bills for other expenses related to your injury, such as your need for transportation or hired domestic help during recovery, or psychological counseling to overcome the emotional trauma of your injury.
- Documentation to support any claims of reduced quality of life in your future
When an act of medical negligence results in a patient’s death, the patient’s loved ones may file a wrongful death claim to recover compensation for the damages they and the victim’s estate experienced related to the death.
In Virginia, there are caps on how much compensation a medical malpractice claimant can receive. The amount of the cap differs depending on the date of the act of malpractice. For example, for malpractice that occurred in May 2017, a victim cannot recover more than $2.25 million for his or her damages.
Your lawyer can help you gather the right evidence and use it to support your claim.
Time Limits to File a Virginia Malpractice Case
Medical malpractice victims must file their cases before the statute of limitations expires. Virginia law generally requires patients to file claims within two years, subject to certain extensions under particular conditions. In cases involving medical equipment left inside patients, the statute of limitations is one year from the date by which the patient discovered or reasonably should have discovered the implanted device.
To avoid potentially losing your rights, consult with an attorney immediately if you are the victim of medical malpractice.
Common Medical Malpractice Situations
Our team handles the following types of medical malpractice cases:
- Birth injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Surgical errors
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Disfigurement due to medical error
- Inappropriate or dangerous treatment
- Dangerous or inappropriate mental health care treatment.
In some cases, a physician is the negligent party. In others, injuries arise because of nurses’ or other hospital staff members’ negligence. In yet other cases, injuries and worsened conditions arise because of a hospital’s negligence, or a drug or medical device manufacturer’s error.
Here are eight common scenarios in which medical malpractice can occur.
1. Misdiagnoses - A John Hopkins study showed diagnostic errors account for most of the medical malpractice claims. These errors accounted for $38.8 billion in penalty payments between 1986 and 2010. Diagnostic errors can cause harm from delays or failures to treat serious health conditions. Every year, these injuries result in significant permanent injuries or death in the United States. These issues hurt 80,000 to 160,000 people every year.
2. Misread test results - Medical tests are essential. They help physicians diagnose serious conditions. When physicians misread them, however, patients can suffer. A recent example occurred in the Irish healthcare system when a U.S. laboratory contractor misread the cervical test results of 221 Irish women. Eighteen died because of the incorrect results.
Other tests that providers commonly misread include:
- Allergy Tests
- Amniocentesis (detects fetal abnormalities)
- Bone scans
- Cancer screenings (cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer)
- Cholesterol tests
- CT Scans
3. Unneeded surgeries: Overtreatment of patients causes waste and preventable harm in the health care system. One study found that physicians themselves estimated 20 percent of medical treatment they provided was not needed.
One common form of unnecessary care is unneeded surgery. Some often-unnecessary surgeries include:
- Stent operations
4. Drug errors: Medication errors injure 1.3 million people every year according to the Food and Drug Administration. The CDC calls these incidents adverse drug events and reports hospitals admit 350,000 patients each year due to these incidents. Researchers found most drug-related errors are preventable.
According to the CDC, the medications accounting for most adverse drug events were:
- Blood thinners (warfarin)
- Diabetes medications (insulin)
- Seizure medicines (phenytoin, carbamazepine)
- Heart medicine (digoxin)
- Pain relievers
5. Poor follow-up care: Other patients that suffer complications are those who receive poor follow-up care. Those who don’t get proper treatment experience delays in their recovery. Some people die.
6. Releasing patients too early: Every year, American hospitals release patients before they’ve stabilized. A University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center study found these patients have a 36 percent higher risk of readmission or death than those released later.
7. Failure to test patients - Another example of medical malpractice happens when doctors fail to administer tests. These mistakes can delay critical treatments and patients can die.
8. Ignoring medical histories - It can be malpractice for doctors to ignore or overlook their patients’ medical histories. Some people have issues that need special attention including allergies, drug sensitivities, or chronic conditions. Failing to take these issues into account can result in harm to a patient, and even death.
Medical Malpractice Damages
An act of medical malpractice can leave you bruised, scarred, or burned. It can also leave you paralyzed, disabled, facing a significantly worsened medical condition, or even dead. These injuries and their complications can shorten your lifespan and negatively impact your quality of life, sometimes interfering with your ability to work. In other cases, they can cause daily tasks, such as driving and performing chores, to be difficult for you to perform.
A medical injury can also leave you facing emotional scars. For example, it is easy to become depressed or develop a phobia after a physical injury.
Consequently, victims of medical malpractice may be entitled to damages, including:
- Lost income
- Medical costs
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of spousal support and companionship.
Speak to a Virginia Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you are suffering from an injury, a worsened condition, or a completely new condition because of a health care provider’s negligence, you could be entitled to recover monetary compensation for your damages through a medical malpractice claim. To learn more about filing and pursuing a medical malpractice claim, contact our team of experienced Petersburg medical malpractice lawyers at Emroch & Kilduff, LLP today.
We offer free, confidential initial consultations. During our consultation, we can help you determine the most productive way to move forward with your case. In appropriate cases, we may agree to represent a client on a contingent fee basis in which we recover our fees only out of a settlement or judgment in our client’s favor.
Has a healthcare professional injured you? Speak with the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Emroch & Kilduff. You may be entitled to compensation. Contact us online today or call (804) 358-1568.