Earlier this year, a South Carolina jury awarded a former Air Force nurse, wife, and mother of three a total of $6.9 million in a medical malpractice suit. The victim filed the suit in 2013 when she discovered that she had Stage IV breast cancer, despite being previously told that a lump discovered in her mammogram was benign. Ultimately, the jury found that the radiologist had been negligent in his reading of the victim’s mammogram and breached the standard of care by failing to order diagnostic testing and additional examinations.
Most doctors are both careful and competent and provide invaluable services to patients suffering from illness or injury. Unfortunately, in some cases, physicians make avoidable mistakes that can have serious and even deadly repercussions on a patient’s health. Negligent health professionals can and should be held responsible for their actions, so if you or a loved one were misdiagnosed, underwent a botched surgery, or were otherwise the victim of a physician’s negligence, it is vital to retain the services of an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
A large portion of medical malpractice claims involve surgical errors, which can include:
- Leaving surgical instruments inside a patient’s body;
- Amputating the wrong limb;
- Performing surgery on the wrong patient;
- Using unsanitary surgical tools;
- Causing organ damage;
- Negligently causing nerve damage; and
- Performing surgery on the wrong area.
Another common cause of negligence-related medical complications is improperly administered anesthesia. These types of mistakes can have devastating consequences as the amount used depends largely on each patient’s medical history, height, and weight. Anesthesia also requires continuous monitoring throughout surgery and a failure to do so can have deadly consequences.
Another common medical malpractice claim is that a physician misdiagnosed a patient. A misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose cancer and heart attacks are especially common. This is in large part due to the fact that diagnosing these diseases is extremely difficult because they share so many symptoms with other illnesses. However, negligently failing to order additional tests, biopsies, and scans are all avoidable mistakes, for which doctors can be held liable.
There are three basic types of childbirth-related malpractice suits, including those that involve:
- Injuries to the child or mother sustained either during the pregnancy or delivery;
- Wrongful birth, which includes situations where parents would have avoided or ended a pregnancy if they had been aware of certain birth defects; and
- Wrongful pregnancy, or when a parent’s attempts at ending a pregnancy fail.
Although relatively rare, a physician’s negligence can lead to the injury of either a mother or infant during delivery. For example, a doctor’s failure to control excessive blood loss after delivery can have significant effects on the mother’s health. Alternatively, a physician may negligently fail to monitor a baby’s oxygen intake, either before or after delivery, which can be extremely dangerous as a lack of oxygen to the brain can lead to permanent brain damage. In cases where a baby is injured during delivery, his or her parents must file the malpractice claim on his or her behalf in order to obtain compensation for ongoing medical costs as well as pain and suffering.
Claims of wrongful birth involve situations where a couple would have either avoided or ended their pregnancy if they had known about their child’s impending birth defects. This failure to report defects is often the result of negligent genetic testing prior to conception. Like birth injury claims, successful plaintiffs may be able to recover medical costs related to the birth as well as the expense associated with providing ongoing medical care.
The last type of childbirth-related malpractice claim involves a couple’s claim that their efforts to avoid pregnancy either through testing, sterilization, or abortion failed due to a medical professional’s negligence. Plaintiffs who bring wrongful pregnancy actions are most likely only able to recover for medical expenses and lost wages.
Some of the most common claims against physicians and nurses involve medication errors. This general category covers a variety of negligent actions, including:
- Prescribing the wrong medication;
- Prescribing the wrong dosage;
- Administering the wrong prescription;
- Administering the wrong dosage;
- Failing to warn patients of dangerous side effects;
- Failing to monitor a medication regimen; and
- Inaccurate data entry.
Medication errors are often the result of a breakdown in communication between physicians and pharmacists. For example, a doctor’s handwriting may be illegible, making it difficult for pharmacists to identify the type of drug or prescribed dose. Failing to follow proper procedure or failing to act in accordance with relevant training and education can also result in hastily filled prescriptions and improper data entry, both of which can have devastating consequences.
In South Carolina, medical malpractice plaintiffs can recover non-economic damages in addition to monetary damages such as medical expenses. Non-economic damages include the costs associated with the emotional distress, pain and suffering, inconvenience, and fear of loss that the plaintiffs experience as a result of the doctor’s negligence. However, the state has placed a cap on the amount of non-economic damages that a plaintiff can be awarded in a medical malpractice case. In medical malpractice cases, non-economic damages are limited to $350,000 per defendant or $1.05 million overall, regardless of the number of defendants.
How Contacting a South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
Medical professionals play a crucial role in the lives of many individuals. Negligent acts committed by a physician or nurse can have devastating and often deadly consequences for patients, the costs of which can quickly overwhelm a victim’s finances. If you live in South Carolina and suffered an injury as a result of your doctor’s negligence, it is important to retain the services of an attorney who can explain your legal options. Please contact the Connell Law Firm by completing one of our online contact forms, which includes providing your name, email address, phone number, and a brief summary of your case. A member of our dedicated South Carolina personal injury legal team will then be able to help you set-up an initial consultation.