East Meadow Medical Malpractice Attorney
At Nassau University Medical Center and other health care facilities in and around East Meadow, people rely on their doctors and medical teams to provide quality care that sustains and improves their lives. While they often receive such care, there are also times when a medical provider makes an error in treatment that causes physical harm to a patient. If you have been injured due to negligence by your healthcare provider, you can pursue the recovery of damages through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
New York medical malpractice cases are complex, requiring services that an experienced lawyer from Jacoby & Meyers LLP can provide.
Some of our recent results in medical malpractice cases include:
- $8.3 million settlement for a client whose doctor refused to perform a timely C-section after a sonogram revealed that there was stool in the womb. This error caused the infant to have cerebral palsy and to require medical care for the rest of his life.
- $4 million settlement for a case involving medical malpractice that led to infant deaths. At 16 weeks pregnant with twins, the mother in this case experienced bleeding and was told that it was normal. A few weeks later, a sonogram revealed problems with the mother’s cervix, and a few days later, she went into labor. Both twins died within a half-hour of being born as a result of a failure to take action at 16 weeks, when the mother’s condition was discovered.
- $3 million settlement for a man whose wife died six days after childbirth. The woman developed preeclampsia—a common condition that can cause dangerously high blood pressure in pregnant women—as well as gestational diabetes. Although the pregnancy was considered high risk due to these conditions, she carried to full term and experienced a vaginal birth. After two days, she was discharged from the hospital and went home, where she soon began to experience difficulty breathing and a cough. It was determined that, had the woman received proper follow-up care, she would have survived. The case settled just before the trial began.
- $2.65 million settlement during trial in a case involving a woman who suffered two previous miscarriages and, at age 37, was suffering pregnancy complications from an incomplete cervix. The physician should have performed a procedure to strengthen her cervix but failed to do so. The woman delivered her baby at 22 weeks gestation, and the child suffered significant problems as a result of this extreme prematurity. The doctor refused to settle the case until after litigation had already begun.
- $1.475 million for a case in which a woman suffered pain in her breast for four years and informed her doctor of this pain. Both she and the doctor had felt a lump in her breast but the doctor did not see signs of breast cancer during a routine mammogram and assured her that the pain she was feeling was not a cause for concern. As time passed, the pain continued and the woman insisted on further testing, which revealed stage 2 breast cancer. It was later discovered that the cancer had, in fact, appeared in the results from the initial mammogram and the doctor had misread those results. This error caused the woman to not be diagnosed until the disease had progressed to the extent that treatment required a mastectomy, which is a procedure in which the breast is removed.
These are only past case results, and are no guarantee of outcome in any particular case. Let us help you understand your legal options by contacting us for a free case evaluation.
Table of Contents
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is any act or omission by a health care professional during the treatment of a patient that deviates from the accepted norms of practice and causes injury to the patient. Not all medical errors are considered medical malpractice, however.
To rise to the level of malpractice, in which the health care provider must pay damages to the injured patient, the following elements must be present:
- The doctor had a legal duty to provide care or treatment to a patient in accordance with the accepted standard of care. This legal duty is in place as soon as the medical provider establishes a professional relationship with the patient. If the medical provider has no established professional relationship with the patient, then the case cannot proceed. An example of this occurrence was the medical malpractice wrongful death case of pop singer, Prince, whose family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against a California addiction specialist who had spoken to the singer’s associates in the days before he died. The family members stated that the physician had a legal duty in those conversations to advise Prince’s associates that he needed to be placed in an inpatient treatment facility. However, an Illinois judge dismissed the case because the doctor had never communicated directly with Prince and had not established a professional relationship with him.
- There was a breach in the duty to provide care. The breach refers to the action or omission that was made by the provider that was contrary to what any reasonable doctor would have done in the same set of circumstances. Often, to establish what the accepted standard of care is in a certain area of medical practice, your East Meadow medical malpractice attorney will rely on expert testimony from established professionals in that medical specialty to explain in laymen’s terms how a reasonable, similarly situated professional would have behaved in that situation.
- This breach resulted in the injury to the patient. A breach in the standard of care is not legally meaningful unless an injury has been incurred as a result. To prove this element in a medical malpractice case, you must show either a direct correlation between the negligence that was exhibited and the injury that was suffered or at least prove proximate causation, which is a legally sufficient relationship between the injuries that were experienced and the breach of duty that existed.
- The patient’s injury incurred specific expenses and impacts on his or her life. New York allows those who have experienced medical malpractice to seek the recovery of both economic damages relating to the out-of-pocket expenses that were incurred as a result of the injury, as well as non-economic damages, which relate to how the injury impacted the individual’s life.
Types of Medical Malpractice You Can Encounter in East Meadow
A medical provider can make an error while providing treatment or care through:
- Misdiagnosis: The health care provider fails to recognize and diagnose a condition that other doctors would have readily identified based on symptoms, family history, physical examination, and diagnostic testing.
- Surgical and anesthesia errors: Many disastrous errors can be made during surgery, including leaving a sponge or other surgical equipment in the patient’s body cavity, operating on the wrong body part, carelessly injuring the patient during surgery, or failing to prevent post-surgical complications such as infection. Mistakes made during the administration of anesthesia include failing to review the patient’s history to identify a risk of allergy or other negative reaction to anesthesia medication before administering it, failing to provide the patient the proper instructions for preparing for the administration of anesthesia, administering the wrong amount of the drug during the procedure, or failing to monitor the patient’s vital signs while under anesthesia.
- Medication errors: Medication errors can involve drugs dispensed by hospital staff during hospitalization, or can involve an error made by the medical provider who issued the prescription or by the pharmacy who filled it. Examples of medication errors include prescriptions made for the wrong type of medication to treat the individual’s condition, errors in which the patient is given the wrong dosage of medication, or the patient was given someone else’s medication due to a chart mix-up.
- Birth injuries: Many things can go wrong before, during, and immediately after the birth process that can lead to debilitating injuries for the mother and the child. Injuries to the child can result in lifelong conditions including cerebral palsy, paralysis, nerve damage, developmental disorders, and fractures. Examples of birth injuries that give rise to medical malpractice cases include failing to diagnose a medical condition in either the mother or the fetus or a birth defect, failure to perform a C-section when indicated, failure to handle birth complications in a manner that aligns with medical standards, or injuries caused by improper use of equipment such as forceps.
- Failure to treat: Diagnosing a condition is one aspect of providing medical care, while treating it is another. Sometimes, a medical provider will diagnose the condition, but then will fail to treat it in a way that other doctors in that particular medical specialty would. Examples of failure to treat include premature discharge from the hospital after a procedure, as well as failing to provide follow-up care.
Recovering Damages in an East Meadow Medical Malpractice Case
According to information provided by the American Medical Association, 34 percent of physicians in the U.S. have had a medical malpractice lawsuit filed against them at some point in their careers, and nearly half of physicians over the age of 55 report being sued. Male doctors are far more likely to be the subject of a medical malpractice case than females, and analysis suggests that female doctors are more likely to be younger than their male counterparts and have likely been practicing for a far shorter time.
Contrary to the popular assumption that new and inexperienced doctors are more likely to be sued for medical malpractice, it is older doctors who have a higher likelihood of a malpractice case against them. Among the various medical specialties, pediatricians and psychologists have a lower rate of medical malpractice claims filed against them than any other specialty.
Those who are more likely than doctors of other specialties to be named as a defendant in a medical malpractice case are general surgeons and OB/GYNs. Doctors who work independently received slightly more complaints than those employed by a healthcare facility. Specialists are more likely to be sued than primary care physicians.
Plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases must file claims within a certain deadline. The deadlines for this type of legal action, filed in court, depends on the facts of the case.
- Plaintiffs must file lawsuits within 2 1/2 years for injury caused by a medical error.
- The deadline for filing a lawsuit in a case in which a child is injured due to a medical error is 2 1/2 years after that child reaches the age of majority (18).
- The deadline for filing a lawsuit in a case involving a foreign object left in the patient’s body is a year after the discovery of the foreign body.
- Claims against municipal defendants—such as the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation—must be filed within 90 days of when the injury was incurred or discovered.
Many states have enacted laws that protect physicians against large payouts in medical malpractice cases by capping the non-economic damages that can be collected. However, New York does not impose a cap on the claimant’s ability to collect this type of damages.
Examples of the damages that can be received in a medical malpractice case include:
- Medical expenses, including those involved in the provision of emergency treatment of the injury caused by the medical error, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, surgical and physician services obtained for the treatment of the injury, prescription medication, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
- Lost wages, if the person is too injured to return to work or must miss work to attend injury-related appointments.
- Loss of future earning capacity, if the medical error results in an injury that causes a physical disability that renders the person unable to return to work at all or forces them to change jobs to accommodate the injury.
- Physical pain and suffering that a medical error caused.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life, if the impact from the injury is that it prevents the individual from enjoying hobbies and activities that he or she regularly participated in before the injury.
Frequently Asked Questions About East Meadow Medical Malpractice
In East Meadow, as in other places, people place enormous trust in their medical professionals to provide quality care. However, carelessness or reckless decisions can result in errors that cause physical injury. If you were injured or have lost a loved one as a result of a medical error, you likely have a lot of questions as to how the error happened, and the responsibility that your healthcare provider has to compensate you for the injury that was caused. Here are the answers to some of the questions our East Meadow clients ask most often about medical malpractice cases.
Not necessarily. Every surgery—even those performed carefully and flawlessly—carries a risk of complications, but most of those complications do not give rise to a medical malpractice claim. To successfully claim that a surgical complication was the result of a medical error, you must show that the surgeon or other member of the surgical team committed an error that resulted in the injury by an action or omission that was contrary to the standard of care that was owed or that you were not informed of the known risks of the procedure in advance of receiving the procedure.
Yes. Medical malpractice laws apply to health care professionals of all types, including:
- Nurses’ assistants
- Nurse practitioners
- Nursing home administrators
- Hospitals or other facilities where medical care is provided, such as out-patient surgical centers and clinics
- Pharmaceutical companies, if the injury involved an adverse reaction to the medication that literature provided by the drug manufacturer failed to mention as a potential risk
- Physical therapists
Many doctors and other medical staff are employed by the hospital where they work. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, a hospital can be held vicariously liable for errors made by its employees if the employee was acting in the scope of his or her employment at the time when the medical error that caused the injury occurred. Cases where the hospital is not named in the malpractice suit generally involve an independent medical professional who has privileges to practice at the hospital but is not actually employed by the facility.
Yes, thanks to the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA), individuals who were injured in a federally-run medical facility such as a Veterans’ Administration facility can file a claim against a doctor at that facility. The claim would be filed in federal court instead of state court, where claims against civilian providers and facilities are filed. Like with state cases, the plaintiff’s attorney in a federal medical malpractice claim is required to submit to the court a certificate of merit stating that the attorney has consulted with at least one physician in the same specialty as the defendant doctor who has reviewed the details of the case and believes that medical malpractice has occurred.
Yes. You can seek to recover damages through a medical malpractice wrongful death case. Wrongful death is, unfortunately, a relatively common occurrence in New York. A study of 11 New York City-owned hospitals revealed 468 deaths in a five-year period that were the result of medical misconduct. The city paid out around $34 million to 56 families in that timeframe, with more than 400 cases pending at the time the study was published. One of the biggest payouts in these cases was $3.2 million in a case against the city’s Health and Hospital Corporation.
In New York, wrongful death cases generally must be filed within two years of when the death occurred, though there are exceptions to this requirement, including cases against governmental agencies such as the Health and Hospital Corporation, in which the claim must be filed in 90 days. Unlike other personal injury claims, the statute of limitation is not tolled (extended) in cases where the recipient of the damages is not yet 18. In those cases, the minor’s parent or legal guardian might file the action.
Wrongful death cases in East Meadow must be filed by a personal representative of the deceased’s estate, on behalf of the deceased’s family members, including parents, children, and spouse.
Some of the damages that can be recovered involve:
- The costs of the deceased’s funeral services and burial or cremation.
- Medical expenses related to the treatment of the individual’s final injury.
- Wages and benefits lost from the time of the medical error to the deceased’s time of death.
- The value of support and services that the decedent provided for his or her loved ones.
- The loss of inheritance suffered by the decedent’s surviving children.
- Conscious pain and suffering that was experienced by the decedent between when he or she was injured by the medical error and death.
- 9 percent interest on the damage award from the date of the decedent’s death until the time when the amount is paid.
The standard of care refers to the degree of attentiveness, caution, and prudence that would be exercised by a similarly situated provider in the same circumstances. There are no absolute rules as to what this standard of care involves, and judges typically rely on expert testimony to determine if someone in a highly specialized field has deviated from the standard of care that would typically be used in a specific situation.
Courts occasionally award punitive damages in East Meadow medical malpractice cases. These damages are not related to the expenses and impacts that the plaintiff incurred for the injury but instead punish a defendant for particularly reckless behavior and to discourage him or her from being so reckless in the future. Your attorney will evaluate your case carefully to determine if the medical error that was made was reckless to the extent of giving rise to punitive damages.
Physicians who are found liable in a medical malpractice case face potential consequences, including the possibility of losing their medical license.
Other consequences include:
- Any settlement that is paid out on behalf of the medical professional by their insurance provider must be reported to NPDB, which is a web-based repository of reports on medical malpractice payments and adverse reactions related to health care providers. These reports are reviewed by hospitals during credentialing, when they’re renewing or bestowing privileges.
- The insurance company can increase the costs of the clinician’s premiums for his or her medical malpractice insurance or can even choose to drop the clinician’s coverage.
- A settlement is often regarded by the clinician’s colleagues and others as an admission of guilt. However, this is usually not the case. Often, the language in the settlement will state that the insurance company offered to buy peace, avoid the uncertainty of litigation, and that the clinician denies any wrongdoing.
- The facts of the case are often published on the internet, meaning they can be discovered and viewed by potential future patients as well as by the administrators of hospitals and other facilities where the clinician wishes to work.
Malpractice insurance policies pay medical malpractice claims. The carriers who provide these policies employ high-powered attorneys who know a lot of ways to reduce or eliminate the liability that the providers they provide coverage to have incurred.
Other issues make these cases difficult to prove and win, including:
- Pressure against the plaintiff from the insurance company to accept a much lower settlement than what the case is worth.
- The difficulty that judges, juries, and plaintiffs have with understanding confusing medical evidence.
- Filing requirements placed on the plaintiff.
Having an experienced attorney on your side is crucial to the success of your case, as it is extremely challenging for someone without medical or legal training to know the type of evidence they need to make the case, and the expectations of the court when pursuing a claim.
The terms “medical malpractice” and “medical negligence” are often used interchangeably. However, there are distinct differences between the two. Medical malpractice involves a breach in the standard of care. This breach suggests indirect intent, in that the doctor knew what the standard of care was and that a failure to apply that standard of care to the patient he or she was treating could result in physical harm, but failed to apply it for whatever reason.
In cases involving medical negligence, however, there is no intent, indirect or otherwise. There is simply a mistake that the health care provider made while treating a patient. An experienced attorney can look at the details of your case to determine if it involved medical malpractice or medical negligence.
According to a report that was published by the Institute of Medicine that evaluated nearly 12,000 medical error events and more than 20,000 claims, it was revealed that claims relating to errors that occurred during a surgical or medical procedure were the most common, closely followed by claims related to a patient’s diagnosis. These two types of malpractice cases account for 57 percent of all medical malpractice allegations, and 59 percent of the total amount paid by malpractice insurance.
The report also noted rising trends filed in cases involving urgent care settings, electronic healthcare records (EHR), telehealth, and robotics.
As previously stated, medical malpractice cases are complex, often filled with confusing medical jargon and requirements that are difficult for someone who hasn’t practiced in this area of the law to understand.
An East Meadow attorney who works with this type of case can provide important services, including:
- Guidance as to the legal options that are available to you based on the facts of your case.
- A valuation of your case that accurately reflects the expenses you have incurred and will likely incur in the future as a result of your injury as well as the impacts that your injury has placed on your life.
- A determination of all potentially liable parties. Possible at-fault parties, depending on the facts of your case, can include doctors, nurses, or other medical providers; hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities; pharmacists and pharmaceutical manufacturers.
- Proper communication with the health care provider’s malpractice insurance carrier, and skilled negotiation to obtain a fair settlement offer on your behalf.
- The timely filing of all court-required paperwork in the proper jurisdiction.
- The collection of evidence and witness testimony that will help strengthen your case.
- Litigation, including the delivery of opening and closing statements, the presentation of evidence, and the examination of witnesses.
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award.
- Further representation if the defendant in your case decides to appeal a court award judgment.
Call Our East Meadow Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today
If you were injured or have lost a loved one as a result of a medical error in East Meadow, the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers LLP can provide the legal answers you need about the specific facts of your case. For a free case evaluation, open a webchat with one of our live representatives, contact us online, or call (877) 565-2993.
East Meadow Office
90 Merrick Avenue, Suite 601
East Meadow, NY 11554
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