Medical malpractice lawsuits are among the most emotionally charged of all personal injury matters. They are also often the most confusing for those who have been harmed. At the law firm of Hartel, DeSantis & Howie, LLP, we have helped hundreds of people throughout Anne Arundel County, Montegomery County and Washington, D.C. file claims for surgical and medication errors, failure to diagnose and other medical mistakes. Our malpractice attorneys have compiled a list of answers to those questions we are most commonly asked. Many of our clients find them to be helpful in framing a conversation during a free consultation with one of our lawyers:
- How do I know if I have a case?
- What is a surgical error?
- What happens if my physician failed to diagnose my disease?
- How long do I have before I need to file a medical malpractice claim?
- What is meant by “standard of care”?
- Are doctors the only medical professionals who can be sued for medical malpractice?
Learn more about how we can help you by scheduling a free consultation with one of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys
To schedule your free consultation with an attorney at Hartel, DeSantis & Howie, LLP, please contact us online or call us at (443) 749-5111. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We serve clients throughout the region.
Q. How do I know if I have a case?
A. Medical science is not always exact, and not every unexpected or unfortunate result is a legitimate malpractice case. If you were permanently disabled or suffered complications outside of those generally associated with your procedure, or if there was an obvious and egregious error made – for instance, amputating the wrong limb, leaving a medical instrument inside the body or prescribing the wrong medication – chances are that you have a legitimate case. If you received an “adverse event” letter from the hospital (a letter advising you that something went wrong), you may be able to file suit.
Our lawyers have years of experience in evaluating evidence and working with expert testimony to help establish a claim and successfully obtain compensation on your behalf.
Q. What is a surgical error?
A. The simple answer is that a surgical error is a mistake made by a healthcare professional (often, but not always, the surgeon) that results in injury or harm to the patient. Surgical errors may include wrong-site surgery, surgery on the wrong patient, and unnecessary or incorrect surgical procedures.
Q. What happens if my physician failed to diagnose my disease?
A. Your physician is expected to follow certain protocols in determining your condition. This may include ordering blood tests, lab work or an MRI or CT (CAT) scan – generally with a follow-up exam. If your physician fails to conduct tests or follow an accepted protocol, and you are subsequently diagnosed with cancer, heart disease or another serious condition, your doctor may be liable for the harm that a failure to diagnose – or a misdiagnosis – caused.
Q. How long do I have before I need to file a medical malpractice claim?
A. The statute of limitations on filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maryland is the earlier of either five years from the time the injury or harm was caused, or three years from the date the injury was discovered. However, there is a different standard for medical malpractice lawsuits involving children. In that case, the statute of limitations does not start until the child is 18 – meaning they would be able to file suit up to the age of 21.
Q. What is meant by “standard of care”?
A. Proving that a physician did not follow the “standard of care,” or the generally accepted method employed by healthcare professionals to treat or diagnose a patient under similar circumstances, is the underpinning of most medical malpractice cases. If your medical professional breached a standard of care and it caused you to suffer injury or harm, you may have a solid basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Q. Are doctors the only medical professionals who can be sued for medical malpractice?
A. No. If a pharmacist, nurse, anesthesiologist, radiologist or other medical professional breached the standard of care and you were left injured or harmed because of their failure, they may be liable.