Seattle Doctor Malpractice Lawyers
Holding Medical Professionals Responsible for Negligence
When medical professionals make mistakes, patients suffer. Doctors, nurses, dentists, psychiatrists, and anesthesiologists can cause serious and even fatal injuries when they ignore protocols and act negligently. In some instances, patients don’t recover, or their sickness is prolonged. As a result, victims often have huge medical expenses and struggle financially because they're unable to work and pay a hefty emotional toll as well.
Our experienced Seattle doctor malpractice attorneys at Pendergast Law, understand how to protect victims' rights and hold negligent doctors accountable for their actions. If you were injured due to medical negligence, we will use all of our knowledge and skill to investigate your case and advocate for the highest possible award. Call us to find out how we can help you in a free consultation. We can be reached at (425) 228-3860 or toll-free at (888) 228-3860.
Examples of Doctor Malpractice
Doctors have a duty to follow a general standard of care when treating patients, and failure to provide that care can result in medical malpractice. Malpractice injuries can be the result of not following medical procedures, delaying in providing treatment, or a never event, which is a matter of gross negligence. In our experience, the most common types of doctor malpractice include:
- Missed or delayed diagnosis: Many serious conditions like cancer are best treated right away. Failing to order a test, to notice symptoms of cancer, or to diagnose and treat cancer can cost a patient his life. Some of the most commonly missed diagnoses involve heart diseases, infections, appendicitis, and various forms of cancer, including breast, colorectal, lung, cervical, prostate, and testicular.
- Birth injuries: When a baby is injured during labor or delivery, it could be a result of negligence or incompetence on the part of the doctor or medical professional. It must be determined if there was a failure to monitor the baby, a failure to respond to distress, or a failure to order a Cesarean section in time.
- Surgical errors: Any error made during surgery can have serious consequences. Injuring a nerve during surgery, performing an incision at the wrong location, operating on the wrong body part, or leaving in a piece of surgical equipment are all dangerous surgical errors.
- Anesthesia errors: Administering too much or too little anesthesia can result in heart issues, nerve damage, inadequate oxygen supply, and even death.
- Misread tests: Tests such as X-rays, MRIs, and ultrasounds reveal conditions in the body such as tumors, broken bones, and internal bleeding. It's a form of negligence to fail to order one of these tests, but it is also malpractice to order the test and then misread the results.
- Failures to Warn: Patients need to be able to give informed consent to any procedure, and they can only do that when doctors properly warn them of the risks of a test, surgery, or medication. Performing a procedure without warning a patient of the risks can be considered malpractice, especially if informing the patient of the risk would have prevented their injuries, such as if they had an allergy to certain medication.
- Failure to Monitor: When doctors fail in their duty to monitor, it can have serious consequences for their patients. Failure to monitor during labor and delivery can cause birth injuries to the baby, many of which can lead to permanent impairment. Failure to monitor the vital signs of a patient under anesthesia can result in death. Negligent healthcare providers who fail to monitor their patients may be held accountable for the harm they cause.
- Fatigue: Lack of sleep is difficult for anyone, but when doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers are fatigued while performing their duties, the patients are the ones who suffer the most. Serious medical errors made by sleep-deprived healthcare professionals can result in serious, catastrophic, or fatal injuries.
Medical Malpractice by Non-Doctor Healthcare Professionals
While doctors are the ones who most often have medical malpractice cases brought against them, other healthcare professionals are perfectly capable of negligence that causes injuries to patients. They are:
- Physician’s assistants (PAs) are fully licensed medical professionals, able to practice and prescribe medicine in all 50 states. Status-wise, they are beneath doctors but have more training than nurses. Usually, a PA will specialize in two or three areas of medicine, and comprises part of a healthcare "team" that works collaboratively to treat each patient. They can be held accountable in the same way as a doctor for a misdiagnosis, wrong treatment, and more.
- Home health aides help home-bound patients with daily tasks such as housekeeping, grooming, cooking, and dressing. The patients they help are typically elderly, disabled, chronically ill, or cognitively impaired. Medical malpractice cases against home health providers often involve neglect.
- Therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health workers have varying degrees of educational requirements and licensing allowances. For instance, psychiatrists can prescribe drugs, while psychologists cannot. Sexual assault and battery is not uncommon among these mental health workers, nor is fraud or causing intentional emotional distress. For instance, a psychologist may see that his patient is getting better but, in the interest of continued profit, brings up other things from her childhood or confuses her so she feels as though she needs to continue on with therapy. These mental health workers can also be found guilty of breach of trust, which can be considered medical malpractice, as all patient/doctor communication is confidential.
- Pharmacy technicians and pharmacists determine correct dosages, dispense medications, and in limited instances, prescribe medications. All of these things have a capacity for human error, and if a pharmacist breaches his standard duty of care towards patients and injury results, he may be guilty of medical malpractice.
- Radiologists administer X-rays, ultrasounds, and CT scans for diagnostic purposes. Usually, the radiologist will read the images and make the diagnosis as well. If this diagnosis is inaccurate and causes the patient further injury, it could be a case of medical malpractice. Also, if a radiologist doesn’t diagnose a patient’s condition in a reasonable time, particularly if the patient’s condition worsens during that time, this could be a case of delayed diagnosis - which is grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
- Anesthesiologists administer anesthesia, the medication that causes one to sleep during surgical procedures. If it is not monitored correctly, the anesthesia can cause severe injury or kill the patient. An anesthesiologist can also incorrectly read patient information before administering anesthesia, giving too much or too little, or the wrong type of anesthesia. All of these could be grounds for a medical malpractice case.
- Phlebotomists draw blood from patients. Anyone who has had blood taken before knows just how much can go wrong. The phlebotomist may not be able to find a vein, and poke and prod in the patient’s arm more than necessary. He or she may hit a nerve, which could result in lifelong nerve damage. Or the phlebotomist might not ensure that all of the equipment is sterile before using it, and contaminate a patient with illness or infection. Clean tools are a must for all healthcare professionals. If improperly sterilized equipment harms a patient, it’s a clear case of medical malpractice.
- Oncologists are doctors who diagnose and treat cancer. Because they’re working with cancer patients, any negligence can have severe consequences. The most common medical malpractice cases brought against oncologists are: failure to diagnose, failure to treat, errors made in administration of medication, lack of informed consent, or failure to follow safety procedures, to name just a few.
The healthcare industry is made up of dozens of different professions. When any one is negligent and a patient is hurt, the healthcare professional can be found liable for the costs of the injury.
Protecting Victims' Rights After Doctor Malpractice in Seattle
Victims of medical malpractice have an immediate goal: to recover compensation for hospital bills. But there are other losses to consider. Medical professionals and facilities can be held legally accountable for lost wages, the cost of future medical procedures, and even pain and suffering.
At Pendergast Law, our experienced Seattle medical malpractice attorneys having spent decades standing up for victims and their families. We know how distressing it is to learn that your doctor caused your injuries and can provide the strong legal guidance you need during this difficult point in your life. We can investigate your accident, determine how you were injured, and advocate for your best interests in a medical malpractice claim. Call us at (425) 228-3860 or toll-free at (888) 228-3860 to schedule your free and comprehensive case evaluation.
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