Medical Malpractice In Orange County
“First, Do No Harm.” Most of us are familiar with those famous words. We know that one of the medical profession’s sacred duties is to not make patients worse. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. It would be nice if mistakes were never made; but, doctors aren’t gods. They are professionals, though; as such, they have a higher level of responsibility than most people. When they fail to meet that level of responsibility, patients suffer, even die.
Medical malpractice is the legal name for the cause of action resulting from such acts or omissions. There are four elements to any medical malpractice case:
- A duty must be owed: It is the duty of the hospital to diagnose and heal a patient that is placed under a physician’s care.
- A duty must be breached: The responsibility of the hospital to serve its patients to the best of its abilities must have been neglected by either action or omission. In other words, something was done incorrectly or something was not done that should have been done.
- The breach must cause an injury.
- The injury must lead to damages.
Earlier this year, twelve hospitals across the state of California, including one in Orange County, were fined by California health officials. The fines total $785,000; note, these are fines, not judgments or settlements paid to individual patients or their families. As identities were not released, it’s impossible to know whether the patients involved pursued claims against the doctors and hospitals.
So, what are some of the “acts or omissions” that led to this batch of fines? The list reads like a script for a horror movie and includes items such as administering incorrect medications, not following proper procedure while using medical equipment, using the wrong surgical devices, leaving devices inside patients after surgery, and removing the wrong organs.
Some of these patients died. One of the instances involving the use of the wrong surgical equipment resulted in the patient’s death. Three other patients required additional surgeries to remove items left inside their bodies after surgery. As horrible as those last three were, the patients eventually recovered.
However, another patient now lives with chronic fatigue, depression, and much poorer health because the surgeon removed the wrong kidney. Yet another patient suffered a vascular embolism and died on the table after the surgeon incorrectly used a laser device during the surgery. So much for doing no harm, eh?
Hopefully, these patients and their families found quality legal representation in time to file a claim. Adding insult to (sometimes fatal) injury, there are limitations on filing medical malpractice claims in California. If a deadline is missed, it’s next to impossible for a patient to recover damages.
Doctors’ goals are to heal the sick and to save lives. Our goal is to make sure you’re needs are taken care of if they fail to meet their goals.