A common--perhaps overwhelming--perception of medical malpractice centers around affirmative negligence. In other words, a doctor doing something that causes harm. To prescribe the wrong or inappropriate medication reflects direct negligence. Negligence, however, also takes the form of omission. A doctor's harmful failure to act also takes the form of medical malpractice.
A Million-Dollar Oversight
A recent case in Missouri shows the danger of omission. Failure to notice a newborn girl's dehydration, the baby suffered a brain injury. The resultant settlement saw the parents receive $1.3 million. Clearly, the healthcare providers did not directly do something to harm the child. Regardless, negligence derived from not assessing the dehydration. With newborns, dehydration reveals itself through certain clear symptoms. A sunken soft spot presents an obvious symptom of dehydration. Considering the severe health risks present to a newborn, failure to notice dehydration signs is inexcusable.
The Accepted Medical Standard
An injured party or his/her relatives don't likely possess the expertise necessary to determine acceptable care. An experienced medical negligence attorney surely does. In a malpractice case, the attorney can:
- Point out the treatments not performed despite the expectation of such care in similar medical situations.
- Call nurses, doctors, and other providers of the witness to directly question their quality of care.
- Put an expert witness on the stand to testify about the improper and incomplete nature of the care.
Of course, prior to any of these litigation-related events from occurring, the injured party must meet with a malpractice attorney. Failure to do so could undermine the ability to file a medical malpractice case.
Taking Adverse Aftermaths Seriously
Unlike the baby's dehydration incident, problems related to negligence may not reveal themselves until some time after the original treatment. Imagine being rushed to the emergency room with a high fever two weeks after an outpatient surgical procedure. The emergency treatment reveals the presence of an infection. Speaking with a medical malpractice attorney after such an incident makes sense. During an initial meeting, the attorney may bring up important questions. Was it common practice to prescribe antibiotics after such a procedure? Was this not done?
Sadly, many suffering from additional health woes after initial medical treatments don't speak with an attorney. As such, they don't explore options for legal remedies potentially available to them. Now, they become guilty of their own omissions and become unable to receive compensation for further treatment. Why carry the financial burden when the fault is someone else's? When anything seems amiss regarding medical care, consult with a medical negligence attorney to determine if a malpractice case exists.