West Chester Medical Malpractice Attorney
Did you know that medical errors are a leading cause of death in the United States? According to a study, medical errors in US clinics and hospitals result in approximately 100,000 deaths and cost about $20 billion annually. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that in the developed world, 10% of patients are harmed while receiving hospital care. As West Chester medical malpractice lawyers we have seen that while there are many reasons for medical errors, nearly half of them are preventable.
Medical Malpractice in West Chester, Pennsylvania
Are you at risk of medical malpractice in West Chester, Pennsylvania? In a word, “yes,” the risk of medical malpractice in Chester County is very real, especially following the recent closures of Jennersville Hospital in Penn Township and Brandywine Hospital in Caln Township.
Chester County Hospital and Paoli Hospital had to pick up the slack after the two longtime hospitals closed their doors for good. The remaining hospitals absorbed 77% of the EMS call volume and most of the county’s healthcare needs.
Given the large geographic footprint the two hospitals need to cover, ambulance rides are taking longer, and emergency rooms are getting overcrowded. The mounting pressure from overcrowding and the extra work takes a toll on the hospital staff, increasing the possibility of medical error, malpractice, and negligence.
And although Chester County Hospital was recently awarded an “A” Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, you can never be too confident when it comes to healthcare safety.
If you or your loved one has experienced harm in any of West Chester’s healthcare facilities, you may be entitled to compensation. Wilk Law, your West Chester medical malpractice attorney, will help you pursue justice for damages sustained at the hands of healthcare professionals.
Understanding Medical Malpractice
Most people assume that medical malpractice is all about doctors, surgeons, nurses, or caregivers being unquestionably careless or reckless. But, legally speaking, there’s much more to medical malpractice than obvious blunders.
US law defines medical malpractice as “any act or omission by a physician during treatment of a patient that deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community and causes an injury to the patient.” Healthcare professionals are expected to uphold a certain standard of care or norms of practice. If the services or actions of a healthcare provider, be it an institution or an individual, fall below the acceptable standard of care, that’s medical malpractice.
Similarly, a healthcare provider failing to act responsibly in their position counts as medical malpractice. And either way, for an action, behavior, or service to be branded medical malpractice, it must cause injury to the patient. For example, medical practitioners must carefully weigh the risks of various treatment options and candidly inform their patients of those risks. If poor judgment worsens the patient’s condition or triggers other complications, it may count as negligence.
Also, if a surgeon, therapist, or doctor fails to communicate the risks associated with certain procedures to the patient or their next of kin, their decisions may constitute medical malpractice.
Clearly, medical malpractice is complex and nuanced in the eyes of the law. Such cases are not always obvious, nor are the resulting injuries. So, it can be difficult to prove malpractice and the associated injuries. That’s why working with an experienced medical negligence lawyer in building your case makes so much sense.
West Chester Attorneys Holding Negligent Individuals Responsible
Medical malpractice is a subset of tort law that deals with professional negligence. Tort law provides relief, in the form of monetary compensation, to victims of wrongful civil acts. In this case, the wrongful act refers to preventable medical errors, which constitute negligence.
However, medical practitioners can make mistakes too, that do not necessarily fall under negligence. Mistakes are innocent blunders that the healthcare professional or institution could not, under the circumstances, have known or done better. On the other hand, preventable medical errors are wrongful actions or emissions that can be avoided through professional due diligence.
Although honest mistakes are well within the standard of care, they may result in injury or even death. Medical professionals are not liable for injuries resulting from unavoidable or unforeseeable events. A medical malpractice case is based on indisputable proof that a healthcare provider made an avoidable error, such as deliberately omitting facts, ignoring the patient’s condition, or prescribing the wrong drugs.
There’s a thin line between innocent medical mistakes and preventable medical errors. A West Chester medical negligence attorney from Wilk Law can help you determine which way your case leans by thoroughly investigating the events leading up to your injuries and the available evidence.
What Types of Medical Malpractice Cases Does Wilk Law Handle?
Let’s look at 10 common examples of medical malpractice cases.
Misdiagnoses and Delayed Diagnoses
Improper diagnosis is one of the most common types of medical malpractice. An incorrect diagnosis can lead to unnecessary and potentially harmful or fatal medications and treatments, while the patient’s health deteriorates as the actual disease remains unaddressed. Meanwhile, a delayed diagnosis subsequently delays the much-needed treatment. Speedy diagnosis is especially critical in life-threatening and progressive conditions such as cancer.
Incorrect or delayed diagnoses may stem from avoidable errors such as mislabeled, misinterpreted, lost, or incomplete lab results.
Emergency Room Delays
There can’t be delays or mistakes in the emergency room. Any unnecessary holdups or avoidable errors can easily lead to the loss of lives. We often see emergency room delays in hospitals lacking the staff, equipment, or protocols to handle patients in desperate need of immediate medical attention.
Getting the wrong medication is similar to a misdiagnosis. Taking the wrong drugs can hurt a patient’s health, not to mention that the underlying disease doesn’t get treated. Doctors and pharmacists can make negligent prescription errors by mislabeling pills and veils, using the wrong medical records, trying a risky dosage, and failing to check the patient’s prior response to certain drugs.
Childbirth is a delicate procedure that requires the utmost professional care to safeguard the health and life of the fetus/baby and its mother. Childbirth-related injuries may be caused by subpar prenatal care, failing to detect early signs of birth complications, delaying the decision to perform a C-section, ignoring signs of fetal distress, mishandling the baby after birth, and substandard post-natal care.
Although uncommon, surgical errors are probably the most infamous form of medical malpractice. There are countless terrifying stories of patients bleeding out on the operating table, getting the wrong organs or limbs removed, or leaving the theater with surgical instruments accidentally left inside their bodies—all because of negligent surgeons.
A lot can go wrong during surgery, none of which should be the surgeon’s or hospital’s fault. Plus, you should be made aware of the risks involved in an operation before going under the knife.
Improper Anesthesia Use
Anesthesiologists are supposed to make certain medical procedures, particularly surgeries, as bearable and comfortable for the patient as possible. The job is not as simple as merely administering anesthesia—anesthesiology is a whole medical discipline in itself. The slightest oversight in the dosage, choice, or application of anesthesia can cause unimaginable pain and suffering, organ failure, or brain damage.
Allergies are an important consideration when prescribing drugs to patients or making treatment plans. This is because many anti-inflammatories, chemotherapy drugs, painkillers, and antibiotics contain known allergens. Administering medications or treatments that trigger allergic reactions does more harm than good and can even be fatal.
A hospital should be the safest place for nursing physical injuries or getting treatment for various diseases. However, if the hospital staff is not diligent enough, you can end up contracting new infections instead of getting better. This can happen if the hospital has low hygiene, patient isolation, and vigilance standards.
The way a hospital is run can foster negligence and medical malpractice. For instance, mismanagement, poor communications, lack of accountability, financial fraud, and non-compliance in a hospital can negatively impact overall patient care.
Nursing homes are facilities of professional care, much like hospitals. Similarly, they can be liable for negligence if a resident experiences abuse, discrimination, sexual assault, abandonment, poor care, or even financial extortion.
Who Can Be Held Responsible?
Any individual or organization within the healthcare supply chain whose conduct falls below the accepted standard of care can be held responsible for medical malpractice. Here’s a list of the various entities your West Chester medical malpractice attorney can help you sue for negligence:
- Medical practitioners – physicians, surgeons, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, dentists, lab technicians, caregivers, midwives, hospital staff, etc.
- Healthcare facilities – hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, etc.
- Pharmaceutical companies – Drug manufacturers and distributors can be liable for medical malpractice if they fail to warn patients or pharmacists of the dangers of using certain drugs.
- Ambulance services – If an ambulance driver or paramedics fail to act responsibly or with the necessary urgency, they can be held responsible for negligence.
The nature of your case will determine who to blame for medical malpractice. For instance, a doctor or a pharmacist may be responsible for avoidable prescription errors. And a hospital’s inconsiderate policies might lead to poor patient care.
Damages a Medical Lawyer Can Help You Recover
Tort law, in general, offers some form of retribution to victims of civil wrongdoings. A big part of that is monetary compensation for all economic and non-economic damages incurred as a result of the tort. In a medical malpractice case, our law firm can help you recover the following damages:
- Medical expenses – These cover past, ongoing, and future medical costs of treating injuries sustained after medical malpractice, including the costs of doctor visits, therapies, prescriptions, corrective/reconstructive surgeries, and miscellaneous out-of-pocket expenses.
- Lost income – Medical malpractice might cause you to miss work as you seek corrective treatments or as you recover. Your medical negligence lawyer will see to it that you recoup all the lost wages.
- Lost earning capacity – Some injuries sustained from medical malpractice may affect your ability to perform various occupational duties. You may get compensated for future income and/or special vocational training due to the lost earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering – This refers to the physical pain, emotional distress, trauma, and mental anguish the medical malpractice may have caused you. Wilk Law attorneys will help you quantify pain and suffering in monetary terms.
- Wrongful death – If medical malpractice results in the death of a loved one, you may be eligible for wrongful death and survival compensation. This covers medical and funeral expenses, loss of consortium, grief, and loss of companionship or guidance.
- Punitive damages – In rare cases of egregious medical malpractice, you may be awarded punitive damages as punishment to the defendant.
What Pennsylvania Laws Apply to Medical Negligence and Malpractice?
Medical malpractice lawsuits are relatively complicated compared to other torts. If you’re seeking compensation for medical malpractice, you should be aware of the laws surrounding such claims. Here’s an overview of the common regulations governing medical malpractice lawsuits as stated in the Pennsylvania Health Care Services Malpractice Act.
Statute of Limitation
A statute of limitation is the time limit for filing a civil lawsuit. In Pennsylvania, injured patients must file medical malpractice lawsuits within two years of the alleged wrongdoing. But for a minor, the two-year period can be tolled for up to seven years from the date of the medical error or until the claimant’s 18th birthday.
Certificate of Merit
231 Pennsylvania Code Rule 1042.3 requires every medical malpractice plaintiff to provide a “certificate of merit” confirming that an “appropriate licensed professional” has examined the claim and found “reasonable probability” that the defendant acted outside the medical standard of care. The certificate of merit must be filed along with the initial claim or within 60 days of lodging the complaint.
This requirement started in 2002 as part of Pennsylvania tort reforms under the AN Act. In addition to providing a certificate of merit, plaintiffs were henceforth required to file personal injury claims in the county where the malpractice occurred. The AN Act was meant to limit patients from obtaining compensation for injuries sustained in healthcare facilities—all the more reasons why you need a malpractice attorney to navigate these limitations.
What Is the ‘Discovery Rule’?
As we mentioned earlier, the standard statute of limitation on medical malpractice claims is two years. But Pennsylvania has what’s called the “discovery rule,” stating that the clock starts running when the patient becomes aware of their injuries. The rule considers that some injuries may become noticeable well after two years of medical malpractice. However, if you’re going to rely on the discovery rule, you must prove that you couldn’t have reasonably known of your injuries any earlier.
Why Choose Wilk Law for Your Medical Malpractice Claim?
- At Wilk Law, our philosophy is simple – we do not take on a case; we take on a cause. We were formed with the concept of protecting clients’ rights, and we do this by taking cases that we are passionate about.
- We have obtained significant settlements and jury verdicts on behalf of clients in West Chester and throughout Pennsylvania.
- We take West Chester medical malpractice cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that our clients will not have to worry about paying a dime in legal fees until after we recover the compensation they need.
How Will an Attorney Help a Medical Malpractice Case?
Medical malpractice cases are notoriously complicated, and the burden of proof for a claim to be successful is a hard mountain to climb over for most individuals. However, when a skilled medical malpractice attorney in West Chester gets involved with your case, you can trust that they will walk you through the entire process. An attorney can:
- Gather the evidence needed to prove liability
- Work with medical expert witnesses who can evaluate the incident and provide testimony
- Ensure their client is properly cared for by trusted medical professionals
- Handle negotiations with insurance carriers and legal teams for the medical provider or agency in question
- Fully prepare the case for trial if necessary
West Chester, PA
West Chester, PA, has a rich and interesting history dating back to the 18th century. It was officially incorporated as a borough in 1799 and is now the county seat of Chester County and home to over 18,000 Pennsylvanians.
The town is a bustling economic scene, full of friendly faces, and peppered with exciting sites and activities for history enthusiasts, thrill seekers, and nature lovers. While in West Chester, be sure to check out the Chester County History Center, Baldwin’s Book Barn, the uncharted wild areas, and the art galleries run by the Chester County Art Association (CCAA).
Contact Wilk Law Today for a Free Consultation
Are you an unfortunate victim of medical malpractice? Wilk Law will help you bring those responsible to justice and pay for every damage incurred. Founded and run by experienced civil law attorney Tyler J. Wilk, Wilk Law fights aggressively to ensure victims of wrongdoings recover every penny they are owed.
In addition to West Chester our legal team also serves Coatesville, Downingtown, Philadelphia, Kennett Square, Phoenixville, Pottstown, Berwyn, Devon, Exton, Frazer, and more. Book a free consultation with your trusted West Chester medical malpractice lawyer today.