Answers on Medical Malpractice From a South Carolina Injury Lawyer
Who can be sued for a cancer misdiagnosis? Can you still file a lawsuit if you signed a consent form? Our legal team has gathered the most common questions about medical mistakes and provided the answers on our FAQ page.
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How do I tell if a doctor has committed malpractice?
In some instances it is obvious if a doctor has committed malpractice. However, in the vast majority of circumstances, it is impossible for a patient or their family to tell whether a doctor has committed malpractice. In fact, under many circumstances, it is impossible for an attorney to tell whether a doctor has committed malpractice without reviewing the medical records. The only way to know for sure is to request the medical records and get a doctor to review them and give an independent opinion about the treatment that was received. If you suspect you or someone you know has been a victim of medical malpractice, I would urge you to hire an experienced South Carolina medical malpractice lawyer to obtain the medical records and get them to a doctor who can give you an initial opinion about the situation.
What are common types of medical malpractice?
There are a wide variety of types of medical malpractice. Some of the most common include but are not limited to:
Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis - This can include a delayed diagnosis or treatment of cancer, arthrosclerosis (heart disease), or any other type of chronic disease that results in harm or injury to the patient. It may result from a misreading of diagnostic tests, the failure to order the appropriate tests, or the simple failure to follow up and communicate negative test results to the patient.
Surgical Errors – This can include items left inside a patient during surgery (the most common example is a doctor leaving a surgical sponge inside a patient), a doctor cutting the wrong body part during surgery, a doctor performing surgery on the wrong body part, or a botched plastic surgery.
Prescription Drug and Medication Errors – This can include a pharmacist filling the wrong prescription or giving someone the wrong person’s prescription, a doctor wrongfully discontinuing a drug, or a doctor prescribing a drug that the patient is allergic to.
Failure to Monitor Errors - This can include a doctor failing to properly monitor a patient for infection after surgery, health care employees failing to monitor patients in the hospital that results in trip and falls, or employees failing to mobilize patients and resulting in bedsores or blood clots, or hospital employees failing to maintain and document records in accordance with the hospital’s policies.
Infection – Although infection is a known risk for many types of surgeries, a doctor and health care employees have a duty to monitor patients closely after surgery and diagnose and treat any potential infection in a timely manner. A delay in diagnosis and treatment may result in malpractice.
Obstetrician Mistakes (Birth errors) – Obstetrical malpractice can occur at many different stages of a pregnancy or birth from failure to perform proper prenatal tests, failure to monitor a pregnancy or properly conduct a delivery resulting in injury to the newborn or mother. Notably, pursuant
Emergency Room Errors – Emergency room errors can include a delay in treating a patient, a failure to perform proper medical tests, or any other type of error by a doctor or health care employee when one is seeking treatment in the emergency room. Notably, pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §15-32-230, one must prove a higher degree of negligence known as “gross negligence” when pursing a medical malpractice claim based on emergency room errors.
What should I do if I suspect a doctor has committed malpractice?
If you suspect you or someone you know has been the victim of medical malpractice, I would recommend that you speak with an experienced South Carolina medical malpractice attorney who can get you some answers and information. You are always welcome to contact my office and I will be happy to speak with you, or meet with you in person, to answer any questions you might have.
What is a medical malpractice case worth in South Carolina?
There is no calculated formula for determining what a medical malpractice case is worth in South Carolina. The reason is because no two cases are the same. Each case has a different set of facts and circumstances that specifically determine the value of the claim. There are always several factors that come into play when evaluating what a medical malpractice case is worth – the severity of the injury, the financial loss involved, the amount of insurance coverage available, the number of defendants involved, venue, whether there are any prior malpractice claims against the hospital or doctor, plus many more. Nevertheless, it can be helpful to know the different types of damages you may be entitled to in a medical malpractice case under South Carolina law. The different types of damages one may be entitled to when pursing a medical malpractice claim in South Carolina include:
- Economic damages: One is entitle to recover financial damages such as medical bills (past and future), lost income or wages (past and future), lost earning capacity, funeral expenses (if a wrongful death case), and any other financial damages one has suffered from their injury.
- Non-economic damages: One is entitled to recover for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium (for the spouse). Pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 15-32-220, non-economic damages in a medical malpractice case are capped to $350,000.00 (adjusted for inflation) against a single health care provider. In instances where multiple health care providers are involved, the total damages may not exceed $1,050,00.00.
- Punitive damages: Although rare in South Carolina, especially in medical malpractice claims, punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for their actions and/or deter future wrongdoing. Under S.C. Code Ann. § 15-32-530, an award of punitive damages is limited to the greater of $500,000.00, or three times actual damages (economic plus non-economic damages).