Medical Malpractice Lawyers in PA
Harvard University performed the most comprehensive study ever done on the frequency of medical negligence in the United Stated. Shockingly, the study revealed that as many as 120,000 people die each year as the result of medical errors committed in hospitals. Whether treated in a nursing home, hospital, doctor or dentist’s office, many patients are unaware that the bad result they have experienced may be due to medical negligence. Although your health care providers are well intentioned, medical mistakes occur every day for a variety of reasons. If you believe that you have been injured by a medical mistake, you owe it to yourself to contact an attorney for a free consultation.
The following are just a few examples of the many different medical error situations that may lead to life threatening injuries:
A critical lab result may be accidentally filed away before your physician reviews it, therefore both the patient and the doctor remain unaware of a treatable health problem until it’s too late.
A lab may fail to properly characterize cells on a Pap Smear that indicate the beginning stages of cervical cancer;
A radiologist reading 100-150 mammograms per day may miss micro-calcifications or the beginnings of architectural distortion of the breast tissue that indicate the presence of cancer;
An emergency department may be busy and short staffed which can lead to life threatening delays in treatment;
The maternity ward staff may not notice or quickly react to critical fetal heart rate decelerations that can cause devastating cognitive injuries to a baby due to deprivation of oxygen; or
The physician may simply be involved with a procedure or disease entity that he or she is not completely familiar with and the assistance of other physicians is either not available or not requested until its too late.
Villari, Lentz & Lynam, LLC is committed to improving the quality of medical care by taking swift legal action to compensate patients and their families for injuries resulting from neglect or inadequate care. We believe that it is only in this way that the quality of care for all patients can be assured.
If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered a loss as a result of medical malpractice, contact Philadelphia attorneys Villari, Lentz & Lynam, LLC. They stand ready to investigate and pursue all available civil damage remedies. Call (215) 568-1990 or complete the short form to the right.
professional negligence by a health care provider
Medical malpractice is professional negligence by act or omission by a health care provider in which care provided deviates from accepted standards of practice in the medical community and causes injury or death to the patient. Standards and regulations for medical malpractice vary by country and jurisdiction within countries. Medical professionals are required to maintain professional liability insurance to offset the risk and costs of lawsuits based on medical malpractice.
A doctor would be liable for (depending on the circumstances) such things as prescribing experimental drugs and performing cosmetic surgery.
The Medical Malpractice Claim
The plaintiff is or was the patient, or a legally designated party acting on behalf of the patient, or – in the case of a wrongful-death suit – the executor or administrator of a deceased patient’s estate.
The defendant is the health care provider. Although a ‘health care provider’ usually refers to a physician, the term includes any medical care provider, including dentists, nurses, and therapists. As illustrated in Columbia Medical Center of Las Colinas v Bush, 122 S.W. 3d 835 (Tex. 2003), “following orders” may not protect nurses and other non-physicians from liability when committing negligent acts. Relying on vicarious liability or direct corporate negligence, claims may also be brought against hospitals, clinics, managed care organizations or medical corporations for the mistakes of their employees.
A plaintiff must establish all four elements of the tort of negligence for a successful medical malpractice claim.
A. A duty was owed: a legal duty exists whenever a hospital or health care provider undertakes care or treatment of a patient.
B. A duty was breached: the provider failed to conform to the relevant standard of care. The standard of care is proved by expert testimony or by obvious errors (the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur or the thing speaks for itself).
C. The breach caused an injury: The breach of duty was a proximate cause of the injury.
D. Damages: Without damages (losses which may be pecuniary or emotional), there is no basis for a claim, regardless of whether the medical provider was negligent. Likewise, damages can occur without negligence, for example, when someone dies from a fatal disease.
Expert witnesses must be qualified by the Court, based on the prospective experts qualifications and the standards set from legal precedent. To be qualified as an expert in a medical malpractice case, a person must have a sufficient knowledge, education, training, or experience regarding the specific issue before the court to qualify the expert to give a reliable opinion on a relevant issue. The qualifications of the expert are not the deciding factors as to whether the individual will be qualified, although they are certainly important considerations. Expert testimony is not qualified “just because somebody with a diploma says it is so” (United States v. Ingham, 42 M.J. 218, 226 [A.C.M.R. 1995]). In addition to appropriate qualifications of the expert, the proposed testimony must meet certain criteria for reliability. In the United States, two models for evaluating the proposed testimony are used:
The more common (and some believe more reliable) approach used by all federal courts and most state courts is the ‘gatekeeper’ model, which is a test formulated from the US Supreme Court cases Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals (509 U.S. 579 ), General Electric Co. v. Joiner (522 U.S. 136 ), and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael (526 U.S. 137 . Before the trial, a Daubert hearing will take place before the judge (without the jury). The trial court judge must consider evidence presented to determine whether an expert’s “testimony rests on a reliable foundation and is relevant to the task at hand.” (Daubert, 509 U.S. at 597). The Daubert hearing considers 4 questions about the testimony the prospective expert proposes:
- Whether a “theory or technique . . . can be (and has been) tested”
- Whether it “has been subjected to peer review and publication”.
- Whether, in respect to a particular technique, there is a high “known or potential rate of error”
- Whether there are “standards controlling the technique’s operation”.
Some state courts still use the Frye test that relies on scientific consensus to assess the admissibility of novel scientific evidence. Daubert expressly rejected the earlier federal rule’s incorporation of the Frye test. (Daubert, 509 U.S. at 593-594) Expert testimony that would have passed the Frye test is now excluded under the more stringent requirements of Federal Rules of Evidence as construed by Daubert.
In view of Daubert and Kuhmo, the pre trial preparation of expert witnesses is critical. A problem with Daubert is that the presiding judge may admit testimony which derives from highly contested data. The judge may expand the limits contained in the “school of thought” precedent. Papers that are self-published may be admitted as the basis for expert testimony. Non-peer reviewed journals may also be admitted in similar fashion. The only criterion is the opinion of a single judge who, in all likelihood, has no relevant scientific or medical training.
Many states also require that a certificate of merit before a malpractice lawsuit is filed which requires a report from a medical doctor that the doctor accused of negligence breached the standard of care and caused injury to the Plaintiff.