Hospital Errors Attorneys
There is no way of avoiding one frightening truth: medical malpractice is more common and more serious than most people want to think about. The American Medical Association, itself, rates medical malpractice as the third-leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, medical negligence is estimated to kill between 250,000 and 440,000 Americans every year.
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement estimates there are 15 million incidents of medical harm inflicted each year. Wrong limbs are removed, tests that prove serious illness are ignored, injury or death is sustained at birth, or patients die from negligence in nursing homes or care facilities. Countless other patients sustain serious personal injury as a result of mistakes that occur during surgery, from a wrong or missed diagnosis, or from a medication error.
Many Healthcare Providers Refuse to Admit Their Mistakes
Doctors and other healthcare providers make mistakes – like any other professionals. When their mistakes fall below the standard of care and cause injury, they are held responsible under medical negligence or malpractice laws. Instead of admitting accountability, medical professionals, hospitals or nursing homes in Greater Portland and across Oregon and Washington, often choose to ignore the harm they have caused. Many facilities have large risk assessment departments that defend their staff and help the insurance company avoid taking care of victims.
Medical negligence cases are often complex. Expert testimony is required in nearly every case to show that a health care practitioner has fallen below the standard of care. An investigative review is necessary to assess accountability. Though cases may be settled or resolved, insurance companies increasingly choose to litigate these complex and expensive cases.
Negligence in Prescribing and Dispensing Medications
At least 1.5 million Americans are injured or killed each year by negligence in prescribing and dispensing medications, according to the Consumer’s Medical Journal.
Prescription errors are a common medical mistake, and they can cause serious injury or death. Medication errors can occur because of physician’s error, or due to an error by pharmacies when they dispense the medication, and include:
- Inappropriate medication. When the wrong drug is prescribed for a disease or condition, a patient can suffer both the side effects of the incorrect medication, and the effects of not receiving the proper medication.
- Wrong medication. Sometimes a patient is given the wrong medication or the wrong dosage dispensed from the pharmacy or hospital – despite the doctor prescribing the correct one.
- Drug name mix-ups. Several prescription medications have similar-sounding names. The physician and pharmacist need to be vigilant about ensuring they are not negligent in prescribing or dispensing the wrong medication.
- Dangerous drug combinations. There are numerous types of medications that should not be mixed because of life-threatening or fatal side effects or cross-reactions when combined.
- Allergic reaction to medication. Patients aren’t usually made aware of all of the ingredients in a particular drug. When a patient is erroneously given a prescription that contains a known allergen, the result can be fatal.
“D’Amore Law Group has done more for me than I thought possible, and I am really grateful for their help. I was severely injured and needed surgery on my spine after I was hit by a car. When you’re in pain 24 hours a day it’s hard to focus on both getting well and handling the insurance chaos. Tom D’Amore and the lawyers and staff went above and beyond what I expected, and I would recommend them to anyone”. — D. Odom, Oregon.
“The lawyers and staff at D’Amore Law Group were able to help me when no one else could. After my injury, I was nervous and scared. But they always took the time to explain things to me and calm my fears. I can’t recommend them highly enough.” — S. Ecker, Florence
Some of Our Other Practice Areas
Some law firms function as “jack of all trades” lawyers who will handle any case presented to them – from drafting a last will and testament to defending a drug dealer. At D’Amore Law Group, we limit our practice to personal injury law to ensure that your experience is without parallel. We do practice in a broad spectrum of sub-fields of personal injury law, however. Some of our other sub-fields of practice that are related to medical malpractice law include:
- Wrongful death – Washington and Oregon have both passed wrongful death statutes that allow close relatives of people who were killed through someone else’s negligence (or other culpable behavior) to collect compensation. Compensation awards are typically quite substantial.
- Nursing home abuse – There is absolutely no excuse for abuse of the elderly (or anyone else who might be admitted to a nursing home) through either neglect or active abuse. We can help you determine whether or not abuse of your loved one is actually occurring, get the abuse stopped, and demand compensation from the nursing home.
- Bad faith insurance claims – Most medical malpractice claims (and many other types of personal injury claims) are paid by insurance companies. Although it is expected that insurance companies will act like the for-profit companies they are (by eagerly accepting monthly premiums but only reluctantly paying out claims), certain unfair business practices are prohibited and you can collect compensation if you are wronged as a result.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Does any mistake a doctor might make amount to medical malpractice?
No. If that were the case, every doctor would commit medical malpractice at numerous points in their career. Malpractice occurs when the doctor’s standard of care falls below the minimum standard of care set for his profession and his specialty. This standard is generally determined by expert witnesses (often other doctors).
Q: Will I have to testify in court?
Probably not, but it’s possible. Your claim might be resolved through out-of-court settlement, for example (in fact, this is very common). Even if your case does proceed to trial, you might not be called upon to testify. Expert medical witnesses are often more the focus of medical malpractice proceedings than the patient.
Q: What is Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)?
Maximum Medical Improvement is the point at which you have improved as much as you are ever going to. In a serious incident of medical malpractice, for example, you may be paralyzed for life, even after reaching MMI. It is often necessary to reach MMI in order to properly estimate your damages – after all, you might need to claim damages for a lifetime of medical care.
Q: What if I can’t afford to pay a lawyer?
You can afford to pay us, because we won’t charge you any legal fees unless we win your case, either in court or at the settlement table (preferably the latter). If we don’t win, your legal bill will be zero. In effect, it is the defendant or his insurance company who pays your legal fees, not you.
Q: Can I claim damages for pain and suffering?
Normally, you can. Pain and suffering requires a physical injury, and it compensates you for the physical suffering you endured. In many cases, the amount awarded for pain and suffering far exceeds the amount awarded for medical bills. If your medical bills are $5,000, for example, you might be awarded an additional $15,000 for pain and suffering.
Q: How long do I have to file a claim?
Each state sets limits on how long you have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you fail to meet the deadline, your claim dies – you won’t even be able to negotiate an out-of-court settlement. The following are the relevant deadlines:
- Medical malpractice in Washington state: Three years after the malpractice occurred.
- Medical malpractice in Oregon: Five years after the malpractice occurred.
- Wrongful death in Washington state: Three years after the date of death of the victim.
- Wrongful death in Oregon: Three years after the date of death of the victim.
Consult with a lawyer on this matter, because in some cases, exceptions exist.
Q: Do I have to prove medical malpractice occurred “beyond a reasonable doubt”?
No. That is the standard for a criminal prosecution (although it is possible, in some instances, to criminally prosecute a doctor for malpractice). In a lawsuit or an out-of-court settlement claim against an insurance company or a defendant, the standard is “preponderance of evidence.” This means something like “more likely than not” – a much easier standard to meet than “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Q: Should I sign a settlement agreement with the insurance company?
Not without your lawyer’s OK. One of the favorite tricks used by insurance companies is to offer you a paltry sum while you are still recovering, especially if they think you are financially desperate. If you sign a settlement agreement, you generally cannot come back and ask for more money later.
Q: Do you have any experience representing victims of sinus surgery?
Yes, D’Amore Law Group has represented patients who have suffered terrible and permanent harm from sinus surgery. This procedure can cause blindness, paralysis, and even pierce the skull.Powerful drill-like medical devices are used in contemporary surgical procedures. The small burr-tipped knives are powerful, and within seconds, can cut through the sinus cavity, severing nerves and causing paralysis – or (as in the case of one client) can cut through skull bone in an instant. D’Amore Law Group has successfully represented many people who have been harmed by sinus surgery.
Contact Our Oregon or Washington Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today
Medical malpractice cases are unique from other types of personal injury cases for at least three reasons:
- It is often difficult to determine whether the harm you suffered was actually the result of malpractice.
- Cases tend to be scientifically complex and rely heavily on expert witnesses.
- Healthcare providers are usually more reluctant to settle out of court than other personal injury defendants are, because they consider a medical malpractice claim to be an attack on their reputations.
On the bright side, healthcare providers are heavily insured and are almost always able to pay the full amount of compensation that is justified by the harm that you suffered.
When you or a family member is hurt or a loved one dies as a result of medical negligence, seek advice from an experienced law firm. Consult with an attorney at D’Amore Law Group before agreeing with an insurance company. You may be signing away your rights. Meet with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in one of our conveniently located offices in Portland, Lake Oswego and Bend, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington.