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Category: Medical Malpractice Attorney

Who is Liable in Emergency Situations if Something Goes Wrong?

Medical malpractice is never really a cut and dry legal matter. As discussed earlier on this blog, a variety of factors must co-exist for valid medical malpractice claim. First, a "medical standard of care" must be adhered to, and the patient must be injured if the care provided did indeed fall below that standard.

However, in situations where there is a medical emergency, circumstances are such that the standard of care has to be relaxed when compared with most controlled medical treatment settings. As such, there are actual strong protections from lawsuits in place for first responders (fire, police, EMT professionals, and others first responding to an emergency situation). Lawmakers also provide for these protections in an effort to preserve emergency services for the state. These protections do not typically extend to emergency room treating physicians, nurses and other medical staff.

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Prescription Drugs and Medical Malpractice

When a patient is the victim of medical malpractice that involves the prescription of drugs, malpractice is not necessarily the only legal basis by which you can fight for damages. A defective products claim may also result from your injury.

If your injury involved the administration of prescription drugs, the cause of your injuries may indeed be traced back to an error in the manufacture or marketing of the drug in question.

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Medical Standard of Care

When patients suffer further injury in a hospital or medical facility setting the typical response is to assume medical malpractice. However, there are specific circumstances that constitute medical malpractice, and further injury alone is not necessarily enough to warrant a personal injury medical malpractice claim.

Two specific factors must be established in any medical malpractice case (assuming, of course, that the patient can establish that they were, in fact, under the care and treatment of the medical professionals they attribute fault in their medical malpractice claim). The claimant must demonstrate that: (1) the medical standard of care required for the given circumstances surrounding their treatment (and therefore subsequent injury) was not achieved; and (2) they were in fact injured as a result of said treatment (or lack thereof).

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Negligence and Personal Injury

In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff must demonstrate negligence in order to recover damages.

"Negligence" is a legal term that simply means an individual behaved in a careless or thoughtless way, which can open them up to liability should that negligence give way to harm or damage. Negligence may be shown in either the action or inaction of others. For instance, a driver may speed recklessly through a school zone or a driver may fail to yield to a child in the same school zone while driving at a reasonable rate of speed. In both cases the driver is likely guilty of negligence.

The fact is drivers have a duty to act in a responsible manner when behind the wheel of a car. This duty or responsibility is sometimes called a "duty of reasonable care." Of course, all drivers have a responsibility to observe to rules of the road in their state or local municipality, but they also have a distinct responsibility to maintain safe driving practices should road conditions change to warrant it.

For example, if a highway's speed limit is published at 35 mph, yet weather conditions at the time of an accident included heavy rain and sleet providing slippery surfaces and low visibility. The responsibility of the driver should have been to proceed more slowly and approach road conditions more carefully. Failure to do that would expose the driver and his/her insurer to liability should an accident result and injury or damages occur.

If, in fact, both drivers act irresponsibly then the fault for resulting injuries may be shared by both drivers. The applicable theory of legal liability then becomes comparative negligence. Proving negligence is, not the only basis, however, for a personal injury claim. Claimants must also prove not only that the other party was indeed negligent but also that they themselves suffered injuries and/or damage.

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Medical Malpractice and Early Discharge Complications

When a patient is discharged early from a hospital, it can often have devastating repercussions. Hospitals have, at times, been known to discharge patients before they are medically stable enough to go home to finish their recuperation. This occurs for many reasons from overcrowding to a shortfall in capacity to manage surgical volume. The fact is, however, when a patient is discharged and then shortly thereafter re-admitted, it may by definition be a case of medical malpractice if that readmission was due to complications resulting from the early discharge.

Of course, in order to prove medical malpractice the early discharge must fall below the medical standard of care. (Would a competent physician in the same circumstance have demonstrated the same action or inaction?) In addition, a malpractice claim must also demonstrate that the patient suffered harm as a result of the action or inaction (in this case the early discharge). Further, the claimant should consider these questions:

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