When you visit a health care professional, it is reasonable to expect them to provide treatment with the appropriate level of skill and care. Unfortunately, errors in the medical profession are all too common; indeed, according to one 2016 study from researchers at Johns Hopkins, medical error is now the third-leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. Mistakes can range from misdiagnosis, surgical errors that lead to additional injuries, or medication mistakes concerning dosage or interactions. Any of these examples may constitute medical malpractice.
Proving malpractice is always a complicated matter, as plaintiffs must rely on the testimony of qualified expert witnesses. A Richmond medical malpractice lawyer can help you understand what you need to prove and provide strong advocacy at every step of your case. With help from a dedicated personal injury attorney, you could pursue the compensation you need.
In the simplest terms, medical malpractice is negligence in the medical field. Doctors, dentists, nurses, and other health care professionals have a legal obligation to practice their trade with a certain level of competence.
Specifically, Virginia Code § 8.01-581.20 states that all medical professionals must provide treatment with a “…degree of skill and diligence practiced by a reasonably prudent practitioner in the field of practice or specialty.” Put another way, doctors must provide the level of care that a reasonably skilled peer would in similar circumstances.
Any failure to live up to this standard is the definition of medical malpractice. Examples may include a failure to provide prompt and accurate diagnosis, not referring an ill patient to a qualified specialist, the improper administration of medication, or a surgical error. A medical malpractice lawyer in Richmond can help analyze the details of a situation to determine if it provides grounds for a claim.
Medical malpractice cases are always complex, as the question of whether a doctor committed malpractice often relies on scientific evidence. Any plaintiff wishing to collect damages for their injuries must be able to present this scientific evidence to a jury in a clear and authoritative manner.
The only way to accomplish this is to work with a qualified health care expert. According to Va. Code § 8.01-581.20, these experts must hold a license to practice and work in the same field as the defendant provider. For example, only an oral surgeon can serve as an expert witness in a case against another oral surgeon.
Medical experts can examine the medical records in the case to determine whether the defendant’s actions violated the duty of care discussed above and whether such a breach of the duty proximately caused new or worsened injuries. Having such an opinion in hand is not only necessary at trial, but is essential to even initiate a case. Va. Code § 8.01-20.1 states that any malpractice claim must be certified by a qualified expert before serving the complaint upon a particular defendant.
Working with a qualified expert witness is, therefore, essential to any medical malpractice claim. A Richmond medical malpractice attorney can help injury victims to locate and hire these experts.
It is reasonable to expect that whenever you visit a doctor, you will receive the best possible care. Due to the tremendous trust you place in medical professionals, suffering an injury at their hands can be a demoralizing and traumatic experience.
A Richmond medical malpractice lawyer can help you evaluate your legal options for recovery. This includes gathering medical records, consulting with and hiring qualified medical experts, and pressing for your rights during all settlement talks and at trial. There is a limited time to pursue your claim, so call today and schedule a consultation.