Virginia Medical Malpractice Attorney Serving Clients in Tappahannock
When you visit your doctor’s office for a routine procedure, or when you require surgery in the hospital, you should be able to anticipate that you will not suffer harm as a result of your health care provider’s negligence. We should be able to expect that our health care providers, from nursing staff to surgeons, will be careful and not make preventable mistakes. Yet medical errors are much common than many patients and their families probably expect. Indeed, according to an article from U.S. News & World Report, medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States. According to the article, 10 percent of all deaths in our country each year result from preventable medical errors. This means that annually, at least 250,000 deaths are caused by avoidable medical mistakes.Medical malpractice can take many forms, including preventable medical errors. If you or someone you love suffered injuries caused by a health care provider's negligence, you should learn more about filing a claim for compensation by speaking with an experienced Tappahannock medical malpractice lawyer.
Elements of a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Virginia
What does a plaintiff need to prove to recover in a medical malpractice lawsuit in Virginia? The Virginia Medical Malpractice Act (Virginia Code Annotated Sections ) governs medical malpractice lawsuits in the state. In a medical malpractice lawsuit, all of the following elements must be proven:
- The healthcare provider owed a duty of care to the patient as the patient's health care provider
- The healthcare provider breached the duty of care owed to the patient by deviating from the standard of care established in Virginia and in the particular healthcare field
- The patient suffered injury
- The patient's injury resulted from the health care provider's breach of the duty of care
- Misread mammograms
- Misdiagnosis of breast cancer
How does a plaintiff demonstrate the standard of care in a particular medical field in Virginia? As in other states, Virginia law requires that medical expert witnesses be used in medical malpractice cases. Such expert witnesses typically will practice medicine in the same or similar field as the defendant and thus will be able to establish the standard of care. In addition, an expert witness can provide testimony about how the defendant's actions or inactions were negligent by their deviation from the established standard of care.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice Claims in Tappahannock
Various types of medical malpractice, or medical negligence, claims exist. At Emroch & Kilduff, we have years of experience assisting injured patients and their families with a wide range of medical malpractice claims, including:
- Delayed diagnosis—the failure to diagnose a patient's disease or condition in a timely manner
- Missed or improper diagnosis—the failure to accurately diagnose a patient's disease or condition
- Anesthesia error—improper amount of anesthesia administered, or a patient's adverse reaction to anesthesia due to the anesthesiologist's failure to properly account for a patient's allergies or current medications
- Surgical error—which can involve, for example, operating on the wrong body site, performing surgery on the wrong patient, or leaving surgical materials in the body of the patient
- Medication errors—such as a doctor prescribing the wrong amount or wrong type of medication, a pharmacist filling a prescription incorrectly by giving the patient the wrong dosage or the wrong medication, or a prescribing doctor failing to account for a patient’s allergies or current medications
- Dental malpractice—involving medical errors made during a routine dental visit or dental surgery
Who Can Be Liable for Injuries in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Numerous parties may be liable for your injuries if you were harmed because of a health care provider’s negligence. Examples of defendants in medical negligence claims include:
- Nurse practitioners
- Hospital staff
- Nursing homes
It is important to know that if several different parties contributed to your injuries, they may be held jointly and severally liable in Virginia. This means that an injured patient can file a claim against more than one party, and a jury will determine the percentage by which each defendant is liable and apportion the amount of damages that each party must pay accordingly.
How Long Do I Have to File My Tappahannock Medical Malpractice Claim?
Medical malpractice lawsuits are bound by what is known as a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations specifies how much time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit from the date of her injury. The statute of limitations is strict, and if you do not abide by it, you can lose your right to obtain compensation. In Virginia, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case is two years. This means that you must file your claim within two years from the date of the injury—which may not necessarily be the same date as the medical malpractice.
In most cases, once the statute of limitations runs, you cannot file a claim. There are some exceptions, however. Most notably, the statute of limitations can differ in the following circumstances:
In a situation where a foreign object—such as a sponge or a towel—was left in the patient’s body during surgery, then the statute of limitations is one year from the date that the object was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered in the patient’s body. You might imagine that there are circumstances in which a foreign object does not cause recognizable harm in a patient until years after the incident occurs. This extended statute of limitations accounts for such a situation.
In a situation where an incident of fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation prevented the patient from discovering the injury within the two-year statute of limitations, the “clock” can be extended for one year from the date that the injury is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.
In a situation where a physician negligently failed to diagnose cancer, then the statute of limitations is one year from the date that the patient informs the physician of the diagnosis (as long as the physician’s negligent act or omissions occurred on or after July 1, 2008).
Contact a Tappahannock Medical Negligence Attorney
If you have questions about filing a medical malpractice claim, an experienced Tappahannock medical negligence attorney can assist you. Contact Emroch & Kilduff today for more information about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Virginia.