Medical malpractice cases come in all types of shapes and sizes. These claims can be challenging to prove, and they require extensive attorney expertise and experience in this area.
To prove medical malpractice, a lawyer must demonstrably show that a doctor or other healthcare provider:
- Had a duty of care to the patient
- Breached the standard of that care (or acted in a way that a reasonable, similarly trained person would not have acted)
- The breach or error caused actual harm to the patient
- Failed to diagnose (or incorrectly diagnosed) a condition that any other reasonably competent physician would have identified
- Committed surgical malpractice
- Failed to refer a medical specialist
Suing Over Issues with Health Records
With those criteria in mind, let’s take a look at some recent medical malpractice cases that made the news, and you’ll see quickly how different these cases can be.
Just before the end of 2020, a Norwich, Connecticut couple reached a settlement with OB-GYN Services, Inc. for a sum of $2 million. According to the couple, they had requested genetic testing during the pregnancy, but the test was never performed; the couple’s attorney claimed that the OB-GYN facility’s electronic health record system was to blame for the oversight, and a lawsuit was brought after the birth of the couple’s child, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
In this case, the attorney argued that the plaintiff had requested cystic fibrosis testing and genetic testing be performed during her first pregnancy in 2016, which is when the oversight occurred. Believing she had already been tested in 2016, the plaintiff did not request genetic testing for her second pregnancy. Her 2nd child was born with cystic fibrosis.
Her attorney argued that the plaintiff would not have become pregnant the second time had she known she carried the cystic fibrosis gene. Plus, the fact that cystic fibrosis testing is a standard piece of prenatal care that was neglected by the doctors made for a strong case against the company that manages the electronic health records. The couple plans to use the settlement sum to help cover their daughter’s long-term medical care costs.
Medical Malpractice in the Military
Medical malpractice isn’t limited to the civilian world. Navy corpsman Jordan Way, a 23-year-old Mount Airy, Maryland native, underwent shoulder surgery in a military hospital where he was stationed in California.
According to reports, he was discharged the same day, December 12, 2017, but by the time he got back to his apartment, the pain from the surgery had become unbearable. The prescribed pain medication, the powerful and highly addictive Oxycodone, wasn’t doing anything for his pain, which he informed his doctors. He went to the ER, where he was given pain medication via IV, and his Oxycodone dosage was doubled. Then he was sent home.
The following morning, Jordan awoke in great pain and called his surgeon to tell him the medication wasn’t working. The surgeon then increased Jordan’s Oxycodone dosage another 5mg, assuring both Jordan and his parents that the medication just needed more time to work. He continued taking the medication per his doctor’s orders.
By December 16, Jordan was dead.
An investigation by the Navy determined that between December 12 and December 16, Jordan was prescribed 90 Oxycodone pills–by the time he passed away, he had taken 82 of those pills, just as prescribed. The Navy’s autopsy report concluded Jordan’s death was a case of “opioid intoxication,” a designation that understandably did not sit well with his parents. In 2019, following a re-investigation, it was determined that Jordan actually died of severe hypoglycemia brought on by opioid toxicity.
By October, Jordan’s parents filed suit against the Department of Defense, alleging that the Navy committed medical malpractice. Their attorney says that the wrongful death of their son was a direct result of failure “to recognize and timely diagnose an adverse drug reaction to prescribed pain medication.”
Unfortunately, the Ways and their attorney have a steep hill to climb–the Feres Doctrine, established in 1950, prohibits troops and their families from suing over injuries or death that are incidental to military service. This includes medical malpractice, and it essentially enables the military to ignore requests for information from the deceased’s family. The only way to have the Feres Doctrine overturned is through Congress, and that’s far from a sure thing. The Ways’ attorney will certainly have her work cut out for her.
Malpractice on the Football Field?
One of the great New Year’s Day traditions is the slate of college football bowl games played on January 1 every year. In one of those games this year, the Sugar Bowl, Ohio State University quarterback Justin Fields–arguably the second-best quarterback in all of college football–had the game of his life, throwing six touchdown passes in beating Clemson. However, Fields might remember this game more for the vicious hit he received from Clemson linebacker James Skalski (who was ejected from the game), where Skalski’s helmet caught Fields in the lower back and side area and briefly forced him from the game.
He received an injection of painkillers and returned to throw four of his six touchdown passes after the injury. Sounds like pretty standard stuff for a football game, right?
Now consider that Fields told reporters after the game that the Ohio State team doctors “didn’t really tell me anything. I took a shot or two and just ran back out there. But it’s pretty much my whole right [side] is sore. That’s messed up. And a little, my hip. But they didn’t really give me a diagnosis at all.”
No diagnosis or information. Shots of unspecified painkillers. Back onto the field you go! This is 2021–not 1971, or 2001 even. Team medical personnel are supposed to be more responsible than this, regardless of how big the game is.
Recent Medical Malpractice News
As you can see, medical malpractice can occur in all walks of life and in a variety of places–not just a doctor’s office or hospital. Should you or a loved one find yourself in a situation where you believe medical malpractice has occurred, it’s important to contact attorneys with extensive experience in this area–and that’s what you’ll find at The Lapidus Law Firm.
Our lawyers have decades of experience and will determine whether you have a viable case after your free, no-obligation consultation. If you do, we’ll work tirelessly to get you the fair, reasonable settlement you deserve due to a medical provider’s negligence or error. Call us today at (202) 785-5111 or (301) 852-7500 to get started. We’re committed to making justice work for you.