Medical malpractice accounts for a vast number of injuries each year in Houston. The victims of medical malpractice often are not medical professionals themselves, and thus might not fully understand that what happened to them should have never occurred. If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries, medical complications, misdiagnoses, or other harms from negligent medical care, call The Queenan Law Firm today.
Our attorneys represent victims and their families in lawsuits against doctors, hospitals, and other care providers to seek compensation for victims. For a free legal consultation on your potential case, call us today to learn more about what damages you might be entitled to claim and how your case will progress. Call our Houston, TX medical malpractice lawyers today at (817) 476-1797.
Defining Medical Malpractice in Houston, TX
Medical malpractice is a term that defines an accident that injures a patient because a healthcare professional did not uphold the standard of care that is accepted within their field. However, this is not the only reason that a victim could initiate a medical malpractice lawsuit against a practitioner. A malpractice case could also be supported by the following circumstances:
- Issues with medical treatment provided by a healthcare provider
- Lack of medical treatment
- Administrative issues that play a role in medical malpractice injuries (e.g., scheduling the incorrect procedure for a patient)
The majority of medical malpractice claims are outlined in the Texas medical malpractice statute Chapter 74. This article will detail a number of common claims that are filed by those who have been victims of medical malpractice.
Examples of Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence in Houston
Doctors and other caregivers are required to follow certain reasonable standards for the care they give. In most cases, doctors and other medical professionals are required to give care that conforms to the “standard of care” for the given circumstances. This means using the same level of skill and care in the treatment that another medical professional of similar care and experience would use in the same circumstances. When doctors fail to do this, a number of different kinds of issues can arise:
Surgical errors are another common source of medical malpractice lawsuits. There are many ways that a patient could become the victim of a surgical mistake. For example, a patient may need surgery on the left side of their body, but a clerical error could mean that the operation is performed on the patient’s right side. Due to this, a patient would not need additional surgeries to correct the mistake, or the mistake could be irreversible if the patient had a limb amputated.
Leaving a foreign object inside of a person is another surgical mistake that is considered medical malpractice. Every surgical team should have a list of medical instruments that they will use to perform an operation. However, if the checklist is not consulted before and after the procedure, there is a chance that an instrument could be left within a patient. This could cause untold damage to the patient’s organs and tissues if it is not discovered within a reasonable amount of time.
There is also a valid concern that a surgeon may be negligent during a procedure and possibly make an incorrect incision. This could mean severing an artery or possibly cutting into a nerve. Additionally, if a patient is not given the correct amount of anesthesia or it is administered incorrectly, this may cause a number of health issues.
Failure to warn about the dangers of a surgical procedure could also be an offense that supports medical malpractice litigation. If a surgeon does not clearly outline the hazards of a procedure for a patient after they asked about the risks, they may be liable if the patient experiences adverse effects after the surgery.
Medication and Prescription Errors
Doctors should be sure to exercise care when they prescribe medication to a patient. This means that the doctor should check the patient’s current medications and medical history before writing a prescription.
Giving a patient the wrong medication could have hazardous effects. When a patient is given an incorrect prescription, it could interfere with other medications and cause a harmful interaction that could injure or possibly even kill the patient.
The failure to prescribe the appropriate medication dosage to a patient could also be grounds for a malpractice claim. For example, if a patient is provided with medication to regulate pain and the wrong dose is prescribed, the doctor’s mistake may cause an overdose. Alternatively, a minimal dose could also harm the patient as their condition would not be brought under control.
Medication errors are often linked to failure to diagnose errors because if a healthcare professional misdiagnoses a patient, they may also prescribe the incorrect medication as part of their treatment plan.
During an operation, the patient is usually paralyzed, numbed, and put to sleep by a combination of drugs. If the anesthesiologist makes mistakes, the patient could suffer brain damage, feel the procedure, or wake up during the operation. All of these issues can cause serious harm. Alternatively, the patient could be unable to be revived and might actually pass away.
Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis
To get the care you need, doctors first need to discover what is wrong. If they fail to do so, any delay in treatment could lead to your condition becoming unmanageable or incurable. If they diagnose you with the wrong condition, your true condition will also go untreated. To make things worse, a wrong diagnosis could also mean you undergo stress, treatments, surgeries, and other care that you do not need – care that could cause active harm.
When you are in a hospital, the hospital must take care to ensure your needs are met. Unsafe conditions, unclean premises, mixed up charts and records, unavailability of help, and hospital-acquired infections can all put patients at risk. The hospital can be held accountable for many of these issues if hospital staff negligence caused the issues you faced.
Medical Battery and Informed Consent Issues
When you undergo a procedure, your doctor must inform you about what you will experience, what the risks are, and what complications are expected. Outside of an emergency situation, failing to get the patient’s consent to touch them or perform an operation could be considered battery.
Injuries to the mother or child during delivery can often cause serious injuries. Infants suffering brain and nerve injuries during birth often face long-term health complications and conditions like cerebral palsy, but many injuries are passed off as birth complications and not what they actually are: medical malpractice.
Other Medical Negligence
Other instances of medical malpractice and medical negligence not appearing on this list are also something you can sue a doctor, hospital, or other practitioner for in many cases. Talk to a lawyer about your case to learn more.
Healthcare Professionals Liable for Medical Malpractice in Houston
Under the laws of Texas, most healthcare professionals could be named as defendants in a medical malpractice lawsuit. While physicians and nurses are common parties to pursue in a malpractice claim, you could also file suit against the following parties:
As mentioned, each of these healthcare practitioners could be subject to a medical malpractice lawsuit because they failed to uphold the expected standards of medical care. It is also important to note that the victim’s lawsuit does not have to be limited to the medical practitioners. If a victim was injured by a medical practitioner that was working as an employee of a healthcare institution, the patient could file suit against the institution as well.
Beware that some healthcare facilities may try to minimize liability for medical malpractice by hiring medical practitioners that operate as an independent contractor. As an independent contractor, a healthcare professional would be given be broad discretion in the manner they are permitted to operate their practice. As a result, a hospital may argue that they do not have a large amount of control over how the doctor treats patients and that they could not be liable for their actions.
For these reasons, you may want to speak with a Houston medical malpractice attorney that could clarify which parties should be named as defendants in a lawsuit.
Process for Filing Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Houston, TX
If your visit with your doctor resulted in you suffering a serious injury, you could contact a member of our legal team in order to get started on a medical malpractice lawsuit. Pursuing a healthcare facility or medical practitioner for malpractice requires different steps than many other types of cases, which will be discussed below.
Before you could file your malpractice lawsuit, you will have to submit a pre-suit notice. Specifically, the plaintiffs will need to notify any doctors, healthcare facilities, and any other defendants at least 60 days before they file their malpractice lawsuit. With this notice, the plaintiff should also include information about their medical history, which will assist the defendant in preparing for the case.
When the plaintiff does not issue a 60-day pre-suit notice to the defendants, the court has the power to delay the case until the defendants are notified. It is also important to note that pre-suit notice will lengthen the statute of limitations for any other defendants that are not yet added to the suit.
After providing initial notice to the defendants in the case and receiving an answer from the defendants, the plaintiff must provide the defendants with an expert report within 120 days. The expert report should contain the following observations from one or more expert witnesses:
- The medical standard of care that had to be upheld in the medical malpractice incident in question
- How the defendant breached this standard of care
- Whether the breach of the medical standard of care was responsible for the injuries sustained by the plaintiff
When an expert report is not submitted before 120 days pass, or the report contains insufficient information, the court could dismiss the plaintiff’s case. If the case is dismissed with prejudice, the plaintiff will be unable to refile their case, and they may owe court costs and attorney’s fees to the defendants.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Houston
The statute of limitations is a law that places an often strict time limit on how long a victim has to file a civil case with a court of law. This means if you want to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you will have to ensure that your complaint is submitted to the court before the filing deadline elapses.
For medical malpractice claims in Texas, a victim will need to bring their case to the court within two years of the date that the alleged malpractice occurred. For example, if you are alleging that your doctor committed malpractice on January 1st, 2021, you will need to submit your case to the court by January 1st, 2023. If you are uncertain about how to calculate the deadline for your medical malpractice claim, our Houston medical malpractice attorneys would be able to help you get your case to a Houston court before the deadline expires.
In Texas, the discovery rule applies to the statute of limitations. The discovery rule allows a victim to extend the statute of limitations for injuries that were not immediately discovered. For example, if a surgeon left a medical instrument inside a patient and the patient did not discover it until they had an X-ray a year later, this could extend the statute of limitations.
Note that the deadline for the case would begin to run from the date the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered the injury. This means if a victim neglected to seek medical attention when they had signs and symptoms of an injury, they would not be permitted to further delay their case.
Additionally, if you are filing a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of a minor, you may be provided with additional time to file your case.
Meeting the deadline set by the statute of limitations is vital to your case. If you are unfortunate enough to miss the filing deadline, your case would be dismissed with prejudice. As a result, any injuries or financial losses due to medical malpractice can never be recovered from the medical practitioners or healthcare facilities responsible for the malpractice.
Damages in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Houston, TX
Victims of medical malpractice in Houston and the families of those killed by medical malpractice are often entitled to sue any doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers involved in their or their loved one’s negligent care. When suing, you are often entitled to damages for any additional healthcare you need to treat the harm done, any wages missed because of the negligent care, any lost chance at recovery, pain and suffering, and any damages your family suffers because of the loss of a loved one.
These damages can be difficult to calculate, and many require financial experts to fully calculate the damages. An attorney can help you identify the types of harm you can seek compensation for and calculate the full value of these damages. When necessary, experts can be hired to project future care costs and lost wages to determine how much you should claim for these damages as well.
Doctors and hospitals are usually represented by medical malpractice insurance companies whose attorneys and representatives are trained to try to resolve cases at reasonable costs without going to trial. Most cases are resolved with settlements, and many of these settlements do cover injured patients’ needs. However, the insurance company does not work for you and has no responsibility to represent your best interests. Talk to a Houston medical malpractice lawyer to have your case properly evaluated and to have someone on your side who can help protect your rights and advocate for just compensation.
Call Our Houston Medical Malpractice and Injury Attorneys for Help with Your Case
Medical malpractice is a concern for many people that seek treatment from a medical practitioner. Whether you are expecting a child or you need an important surgical procedure performed, it is a good feeling to know that you could depend on your doctor at these crucial times. However, some unfortunate patients learn that their doctor or hospital cannot be trusted when it comes to their medical care. If you were injured in an incident of medical malpractice due to a negligent Houston practitioner or hospital, contact our Houston medical malpractice lawyer today.
The Queenan Law Firm, P.C., employs hardworking and experienced Houston medical malpractice lawyers that would like to help you in your fight for compensation for medical malpractice injuries. Doctors and other medical practitioners deserve to be held responsible for mistakes that substantially affect their patients’ lives. If you are ready to speak with a member of our legal team regarding your malpractice claim, call our Houston personal injury attorney at (817) 476-1797. The scheduling process could also be completed on our website.