By: Attorney Kevin J. O’Malley| Partner
Two Complicated Spinal Surgeries, Two Separate Operating Rooms, Surgeries Performed at the Same Time, One Surgeon Supervising Both Surgeries, One Patient Is Left a Quadriplegic, Medical Malpractice; Yes or No?
Last month the Boston Globe reported on a case tried in Suffolk Superior Court where a 45 year old father of two brought a lawsuit against Massachusetts General Hospital and his surgeon because the patient was left a quadriplegic after complicated spinal surgery. The essential allegation was that the surgeon, who was supervising another complicated spinal surgery in another operating room at the same time, failed to disclose that he would be supervising simultaneous surgeries in separate operating rooms and that the surgeon’s divided attention caused the quadriplegia. The jury found in favor of the defendants.
Medical malpractice cases are often complex and require an exceptional grasp of both the legal issues and the technical aspects of medicine. Hospitals and doctors vigorously defend medical malpractice cases. You can be sure that, if you or a loved one had what you believe is a bad medical result, the doctor and hospital have already thoroughly investigated the situation and have already contacted their insurers and attorneys to defend them should a medical malpractice claim be made.
It is imperative that, if you or a loved one believe you have been harmed as a result of the negligence of a medical professional, you immediately consult with counsel to evaluate your case, gather the medical records and do the necessary investigation on your behalf to determine whether there is a viable claim for medical malpractice. Again, be assured that the doctor and the hospital are preparing their case as you sit idly by.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is, simply put, negligence which occurs in the field of patient care. Like any negligence case, the basic elements are duty, breach, causation, and harm.
Did the medical provider owe you or your loved one a duty of care? This is perhaps the simplest element of a case. If you or your loved one was treated by a medical provider, then that medical provider owed you a duty to use generally accepted practices and procedures used by medical professionals in your specific geographic region.
Breach of the Duty
Did the level of care provided by the medical provider (be it doctor, nurse, surgeon, nurse’s aide, etc.). fall below the accepted practices and procedures in your area? Breach of the duty of care i.e. providing care below the accepted standard, is almost always, except in the most egregious cases, a question of opinion. Again, rest assured, that if you or your loved one have suffered a bad end medical result, the doctor, hospital and their insurers are consulting experts in order to obtain favorable opinions should a
case be filed. It is especially important to consult an attorney sooner rather than later so that your attorney can consult notable experts in the particular medical specialty to secure an opinion as to whether or not the care provided was substandard.
Even if a medical provider treated you and even if the care provided was substandard, if the breach of duty did not cause your poor medical result, there can be no recovery. Again, causation will likely be the subject of expert medical opinion so the sooner you consult an attorney, the better.
Did the substandard care provided to you by your medical provider which caused your poor medical result cause harm? If the answer is yes, then you have a medical malpractice claim for which you may recover damages. If the answer is no, then there is no medical malpractice claim for which you can recover damages. What kind of damages are compensable? Under Massachusetts law, a plaintiff may recover no more than $500,000.00 for pain and suffering, loss of consortium or companionship, embarrassment any other general damages under most circumstances. In addition to general damages, a successful plaintiff in a medical malpractice case in Massachusetts can recover compensatory damages like reimbursement of expenses such as medical costs and reimbursement of lost wages (both past and future).
The consequences of medical negligence can be catastrophic. Lives are turned upside down, bills can’t be paid because you are unable to work. The stress on you and on your immediate and extended family and friends can be overwhelming. If you or your loved one has experienced a bad medical result, while you are in the midst of all this tumult, the doctor, the hospital, and their insurance companies are building a defense against your claim. It is important that you contact us now if you think you might have a claim for medical negligence so that we can evaluate it, investigate it, seek medical opinions about the level of care you received and come to an informed decision as to whether or not there is a viable case for medical negligence.
In order to prosecute a medical negligence case, it takes experience and it takes horsepower. As one of the largest firms in southeastern Massachusetts over the last forty years, we have the resources to successfully litigate a medical negligence case for you. If you or a loved one believes you have been the victim of medical negligence, please call today 1.800.852.5211 or request a free consultation!