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When Can I Sue a Doctor for Medical Malpractice?

Medicine is supposed to make you better. Unfortunately, there are instances in which interactions with medical professionals or medical facilities make things worse. This can be devastating to injured people and even worse for relatives if a loved one dies. People who are hurt often look for someone to blame. In this case, that may be a doctor, dentist, nurse or healthcare facility. The term medical malpractice often gets thrown around, but such cases can be difficult to prove. A Georgia medical malpractice lawyer can help. But before looking at the instances in which you can sue for medical malpractice, let’s define the term.

A Georgia Medical Malpractice Lawyer on What Constitutes Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice refers to when a healthcare professional violates their duty of care to a patient. This breach of duty must result in injury or death. Not every poor outcome is a case of malpractice. Actually, most aren’t. This means you can’t sue simply because your surgery was unsuccessful, or your baby died at birth. You have to be able to prove that a medical professional was negligent. You have to show that they did not provide the standard of care that another professional would. As with any other case of negligence, you will need to prove that the doctor’s actions actually caused your injury. This can be very difficult, but a Georgia medical malpractice lawyer can help.

Common types of medical malpractice are:

  • When a doctor misses a diagnosis, fails to deliver a timely diagnosis or misdiagnoses a condition, injury or death can result.
  • Childbirth injuries. A fetus can be injured during pregnancy or a child can be injured during the birth process. Brain injury, fractured bones, and paralysis are the most likely injuries.
  • Medication errors. This is one of the most common forms of medical malpractice. A doctor may write the wrong prescription or administer the wrong dosage. He may also neglect to notice that two drugs will interact in a way that’s harmful. In the hospital, the wrong medication may be given to the wrong patient.
  • Anesthesia errors. Even seemingly minor errors by an anesthesiologist can lead to brain damage, permanent injury or death. This type of malpractice usually results from:
  • Not investigating the patient’s medical history thoroughly
  • Not informing the patient of what they need to do/avoid doing before surgery.

The patient may also be given too much anesthesia, or the intubation may done improperly.

  • Surgical errors. Surgeons may puncture an organ or blood vessel, operate on the wrong body part or leave objects inside the patient. Nursing staff can also contribute to surgery errors. They may give the wrong medication, use incorrect procedures or fail to give the patient proper postoperative instructions.

Things A Georgia Medical Malpractice Lawyer Will Tell Patients about Medical Malpractice

There are a number of factors which must be considered when filing for medical malpractice. One is the statute of limitations. In Georgia, you have two years from the date of injury or death to file a lawsuit. However, death or injury can take place after the date of surgery or another procedure. The law takes this into account. Still, based on the statute of repose, you have only up to five years after the injury to sue. The only exception is a case where a foreign object has been left inside the patient. The suit must then be brought with a year of discovering the surgeon’s negligence.

Under Georgia Code Section 9-11-9.1, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be accompanied by an affidavit from a medical expert. This is in addition to the initial complaint document which sets out your allegations. You must find an expert willing to give a sworn opinion. They must state your healthcare provider’s negligence in at least one area. If you don’t have an affidavit of expert, your case will likely be dismissed. If the statute of limitations is approaching and you only hired an attorney recently, you may get 45 more days.

Damages You Can Receive for Medical Malpractice

There are three broad categories of damages you may be entitled to if you can prove that malpractice occurred. Compensatory damages reimburse you for financial losses such as medical bills and lost wages due to your injury. Non-economic damages cover intangible things like pain and suffering. Punitive damages may be awarded by the court in particularly serious cases. These are intended to punish the healthcare provider for malice, fraud or willful misconduct. A Georgia medical malpractice lawyer can help you prove that malpractice occurred.

Contact a Georgia Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

Negative medical outcomes are never easy to handle. However, you need to ensure the law is on your side if you want to pursue a doctor or hospital. Contact an experienced Georgia medical malpractice lawyer at Bethune Law Firm today to get the advice you need.  We will gather all the facts and give you an honest assessment. If you have a case, we will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.