As members of society, we all understand that each institution and each person within each institution is imperfect. We also know that the law does not require medical providers to be perfect or to provide “perfect” health care.
The question in a medical negligence claim is whether a health care provider violated the applicable standard of care. Health care providers have a duty to exercise the degree of skill, care, and learning expected of a reasonably prudent health care provider in the State of Washington acting in the same or similar circumstances at the time of the care or treatment in question. When they fail in this duty, medical negligence is the result.
WPI 105.01: Standard of Care
The applicable standard of care is the standard for the profession or class to which the health care provider belongs. The words “reasonably prudent” are important in a medical negligence claim because the standard for a health care provider is not what the provider has done in the past, or what others in the facility commonly do in similar situations. The standard is set by what a reasonably prudent health care provider is expected to do in the relevant circumstance.
Many patients who have bad medical outcomes want to know if they are a victim of medical negligence. One service our firm can provide to these patients is to give them an evaluation as to whether we believe they have a claim that should be brought.
The determination whether a claim should be brought is dependent on the medical records and what a qualified medical expert would say about those records and the treatment that was rendered. Lawyers know that only the most valid and credible medical negligence claims should be brought because medical facilities and their insurance companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers and expert witnesses to defend claims.
How Often Does Medical Negligence Occur?
One question that jurors often consider in a medical negligence claim is how a well intentioned health care provider could be “negligent”. In many cases, a provider’s negligence is produced by hospitals and other medical facilities overburdening the providers with high patient volumes for business reasons.
In other words, negligence is built into the facility’s system and, given volumes, there will be known and predictable instances of negligence in a given time period. Information published by the Wall Street Journal in 2015 shows that 39 times a week a surgeon leaves a foreign object inside a patient’s body after an operation. Twenty times per week a surgeon performs the wrong procedure on a patient. Twenty times a week a surgeon operates at the wrong site. And, there were 157,000 surgical-site infections in 2013.
How Does Medical Negligence Happen?
There are many great articles that provide perspective on how medical negligence happens. One such article was published by the New York Times and is a doctor’s perspective on his daughter’s medical care. You may read the article here.
This article describes an instance of a patient being ignored in a near-death circumstance. The author found that the nurse who was making rounds failed to act on his daughter’s vital signs, and when confronted she said that she would “call the doctor”. The author then writes: “Fifteen minutes later I find her in the lounge at a computer, and over her shoulder I see a screen full of makeup products. When I ask if we can get that fluid going, I startle her. She says she called the resident and told him the vital signs, but that he thought things were stable.” The author then proceeded to administer the necessary fluids himself and save his daughter’s life.
At Russell & Hill, PLLC, we know that many of our prospective clients do not have much experience in the legal system, and need help determining whether they have a valid medical negligence claim. We enjoy educating our clients and are happy to schedule a free consultation to discuss your options.
Contact our team today to begin your claims process.