Austin Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Knowledgeable Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Austin
Medical malpractice can result in some of the most catastrophic injuries as well as generate distrust of the medical profession. Most medical providers provide outstanding service to their patients, but when preventable medical errors occur health care providers need to be held accountable like any other person or entity whose negligence or wrongful conduct caused you or a loved one a serious injury or death. The medical malpractice attorneys at Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP want to help you.
Common Examples of Medical Malpractice
Wrong site-wrong patient surgery
Hospitals and surgeons follow certain protocol before an operation to ensure the correct patient is undergoing surgery, the right organ is to be operated on, and the site of the surgery is confirmed, usually a number of times. Still, poor communication, distraction, fatigue or a failure to follow the protocol results in a catastrophic mistake and a medical malpractice claim.
Device left in a body cavity
Surgeons and assistants count the instruments or sponges used in a procedure and take inventory before the incision site is closed. Regardless, objects left in body cavities are not that uncommon and if not discovered, can lead to infections and other serious complications. An emergency surgery to remove the item also exposes a weakened patient to more infection, heart failure and other complications.
Delay in diagnosis or misdiagnosis
Some health care providers through lack of communication with their patients or by treating patients quickly and sacrificing quality for quantity will miss a diagnosis. For example, a general practitioner (GP) may have a patient who is an ex-smoker who complains of a persistent cough for months and is only given cough medication. Another doctor looks at the patient and sends her out for a biopsy that reveals she now has advanced otolaryngeal cancer. The GP may be civilly liable if a reasonably competent physician testifies that the condition should have been diagnosed at a much earlier time when the cancer was very treatable.
Wrong medication or dosage
A complete medical history and knowledge of a patient’s allergic reactions to medications can prevent a patient being given the wrong drugs or dosage. Some errors are ascribed to misreading a prescription or record or not adjusting the dosage when complications arise.
Many birth injuries are preventable. Common birth injury conditions such as cerebral palsy and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy result from oxygen deprivation to the brain from a failure to monitor the fetus or the mother’s condition or communicating to the doctor that the patient or fetus is showing significant changes. Erb’s palsy, an injury to the brachial plexus, can occur if the child’s arm is pulled too hard during a breech delivery. Both baby and mother need to monitored for changes in respiration, heart beat, blood pressure and blood glucose levels during a pregnancy.
During a pregnancy whatever a mother experiences her baby may also experience. Infections that attack the immune system of a mother will have effects on her developing baby. Infections that do not receive medical attention can cause neonatal brain damage. Examples of infections that lead to neonatal brain damage include:
- Yeast infections
These infections whether serious or common can negatively effect the development of a baby. Research indicates that maternal infections that are left untreated can lead to epilepsy and schizophrenia. These infections can also be the cause of premature births. Babies born prematurely are at a higher risk of cerebral palsy and other brain defects. The mother’s physician should always monitor and properly treat maternal infections. Any physician that fails to do so may be liable for any brain injury the a baby experiences.
Jaundice is very common among preemie babies. It occurs when an excessive amount of yellow pigment is present in a baby’s bloodstream. This can cause a babies eyes and skin to appear yellow. If your newborn is experiencing jaundice this is not a reason to worry, unless left untreated. Excessive amounts of bilirubin (yellow pigment) in the bloodstream can lead to a medical condition called kernicterus. This condition causes serious damage to a baby’s brain.
Physical trauma during a delivery can lead also lead to brain damage. Incorrect use of medical tools inflicted on the head or forceful tugging of the head can both damage a newborn’s brain. In some extreme cases nurses on staff or doctors may accidentally drop a baby. When our heads make forceful contact with any object or surface it can leave serious brain damage. These effects are magnified when involving a newly born baby.
Many patients die or suffer pain needlessly from infections sustained during a hospital stay or by the lack of care from an untrained or overwhelmed staff. Careless handling of a patient, failing to monitor their condition or administer the proper medicines can lead to serious injuries and death.
Holding the Health Care Provider Liable
There are four elements in a Texas medical malpractice case:
- A duty was owed to the patient. A duty is created when the patient comes under that provider’s care.
- The duty of care was breached. A health care provider is held to the standard of a reasonably competent provider of the same specialty under similar conditions. When the doctor or health care provider’s conduct falls below the currently accepted medical standards in Texas, there is a breach of that duty.
- The breach must have been the cause of the injury. A missed diagnosis must have been the cause of the person’s death if timely detection would have saved the person’s life or extended life expectancy.
- Damages. The person must have sustained a loss caused by the breach and injury. It can be financial or emotional.
Requirements in Filing a Claim
Texas law requires that 60-days notice be given to the defendant health care provider before a claim is filed. It also mandates that within 120 days of filing a medical malpractice claim that you serve an expert’s medical report on the defendant with the medical expert’s curriculum vitae and the expert’s opinion regarding the standard of care, the manner in which the defendant doctor failed to adhere to the standards, the causal relationship between the failure and injury, and the harm that resulted or the damages.
Cap or Limit on Damages
Like most states, Texas law imposes a cap on your noneconomic damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Noneconomic claims are limited to $250,000 for each claimant or against each health care institution. Your total recovery is limited to $750,000 for noneconomic damages including $250,000 from the physician defendants and a maximum of $500,000 from all institutional providers.
Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish or emotional distress for which there is no objective basis for measuring it. Texas does not limit your economic losses, which include medical expenses and lost earnings.
Statute of Limitations
Also, medical malpractice cases generally need to be filed within 2 years of the negligent act. If your child is under the age of 12, you have until the minor attains the age of 14 to file on their behalf.
A plaintiff’s’ attorney can extend the statute for up to 75 days by sending notice of the claim by certified letter to the physician or health care provider against whom the claim is being made. The notice letter must be sent before the statute of limitations bars filing a claim. Also, notice to one defendant is considered notice to all in cases where a defendant did not receive the requisite notice within 60 days of filing a lawsuit.
Austin Medical Malpractice Attorneys – Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP
Medical malpractice cases are complex and involve complicated issues of liability and damages. You need the experience and resources of legal professionals who know how to handle these unique injury cases and who have the resources to prosecute health care liability claims that usually intensely defended. When medical negligence has caused serious personal injury or the death of someone you love, call our medical malpractice law firm at 512-271-5304 to arrange a no cost, no obligation consultation.