Very few of us are lucky enough to avoid a visit to the hospital at some point either for ourselves or for those we love.
Oftentimes, we are there under stressful situations such as surgery, visiting an ill friend or family member—or for a life-threatening emergency.
Once we walk through those hospital doors, we put our trust in the hospital’s staff and administration to do everything within their power to offer us the highest standard of care. Most of the time, they get it right.
But when things go wrong, the consequences can be devastating. In these unfortunate situations, it is difficult to know what our rights are, and who the responsible party may be.
What is Hospital Negligence?
If you think of a hospital like any other business, it hires employees to perform certain job functions and implements policies for operating its business. When those duties are not properly carried out by employees and have consequences that impact a patient’s health, then the hospital may be responsible for the negligence of its employees.
Hospital employees include
- physician assistants,
- registered nurses,
- licensed practical nurses,
- advanced practicing nurses,
- lab technicians,
- and others.
A radiologist may misinterpret a CT Scan leading to an error in diagnosis, or a nurse may inadvertently give you medication intended for somebody else.
In addition, hospital administrators can be negligent in failing to properly staff the hospital or for failure to have appropriate policies and procedures in place.
The important piece for you to remember is that you as a patient or representative of a loved one—are entitled to a very specific standard of care by the hospital in which you sought treatment. We urge you, however, to consult with us as soon as you suspect you have been subject to medical negligence.
Types of Hospital Negligence
Hospitals have a lot of responsibilities. Lives are literally on the line. There are many different types of hospital negligence, but there are a few common ways that hospitals fail to reach the standard of care for patients. Note, that if your circumstances do not align with any of these specific examples, you may still have a case for hospital negligence.
As with most businesses, human resources is arguably the most costly component of running a hospital. Understaffed hospitals often result in patient treatment delays and a lack of attention to each patient. A hospital is expected to be reasonably staffed to provide adequate care for all patients.
Patient Chart Errors
Medical records are extremely important for a number of reasons. A patient’s record or “chart” details their medical history, allergies, treatment protocol, and more. Improper documentation may result in minor errors like a missed bath or major errors like administering the wrong medication or amputating the wrong limp.
Overworked Medical Professionals
Doctors and nurses are crucial to the function of a hospital, but an overworked professional medical staff may do more harm than good. Long hours, resulting in fatigue can lead to mistakes in performance, like failure to diagnose, or missteps during medical procedures.
Lack of Equipment
A hospital should have the necessary equipment for basic patient treatment. This includes everything from bandages and gauze to oxygen machines and sterile needles. Lack of equipment can lead to delays in treatment, which can be an inconvenience but can also be life-threatening depending on the situation.
The hospital is responsible for ensuring that all employees have adequate training in their duties and for verifying the education and experience of doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other professionals. Thorough background checks are important for hospital staff.
Proving Hospital Negligence
There are four core elements of negligence that need to be established when proving hospital negligence. These elements are the foundation for most personal injury cases. The experienced team at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble can walk you through each of these elements. Proving hospital negligence for your case is something that we will ensure is possible prior to advising you to move forward with your case.
It is reasonable to conclude that a hospital owes a patient a duty to provide a certain standard of care. When you or a loved one is ill or injured, you rely on being able to go to a hospital to receive the medical attention you need to get better.
When a hospital acts in a way that falls below the standard of care, they have breached their duty. For example, improper staffing can be a breach of the hospital’s duty to provide proper care.
Causation requires proof that there is a direct link between the duty breached and the injury that resulted. In general terms, if the hospital had provided the proper standard of care (not breached their duty) the injury would not have occurred.
Finally, the results of the breach must have caused actual damage. A breach of duty, such as delayed care may be irritating but not cause any actual damage. If there is no economic or non-economic harm, there is no case for hospital malpractice.
How O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble Can Help
Each case of hospital malpractice is unique and at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, we are well versed in the laws enacted to protect you. We don’t expect you to come to us knowing all the answers—that’s our job.
We are continually educating ourselves and keeping up to date with the most current legal changes and news so that we may better serve your needs. Our malpractice attorneys have the experience, expertise and breadth of knowledge to pursue hospital malpractice cases of merit.
At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble we will work diligently on your behalf to provide you with excellent representation. Though damages awarded to the victim of a medical malpractice case vary by situation, rest assured that our attorneys will always strive to seek the maximum allowable.
After a thorough review of your case, together, we will determine the most appropriate damages to seek. Compensatory damages include recovery of financial loss in the past as well as an estimate of any future loss. Damages may also cover emotional issues such as reduced enjoyment of life due to a disability or loss. Pain and suffering cover the physical and mental distress suffered because of an injury, medical error or negligence.
O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble is one of the oldest and best-known medical malpractice law firms in New Jersey. Our medical malpractice lawyers have represented many victims who have needlessly suffered and won millions of dollars on their behalf in verdicts and settlements related to hospital malpractice. A recent case of note involved the over-medication of an elderly patient causing the patient to lapse into a long-term coma. Through our tireless pursuit of the truth and thorough investigation into the facts, our lawyers were successful in recovering a multi-million dollar award.
Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.
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Discuss Your Case with Our Hospital Malpractice Attorneys Today
If you feel that you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, we invite you to speak to one of our excellent medical malpractice attorneys at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble. The initial consultation is free, confidential, and you are under no obligation. Contact us online or call us at (908) 928-9200 or 1-800-586-5817.