Wrongful Death From Medical Malpractice

Helpful Insights From Malpractice Attorneys Serving Maryland, DC and Virginia

Losing a loved one to death is one of the most devastating events a family may suffer. Losing a loved one to death due to the mistake or negligence of another only serves to compound the suffering more.

Knowing the possibility that if something may have been done differently, your loved one may still be alive can carry a lifetime of wondering and additional suffering.

While nothing can bring your loved one back, holding the institution or person accountable for what has happened and receiving compensation for damages or pain and suffering is something that may help to give you some answers.

Wrongful death is a legal term referring to a lawsuit usually brought on by close relatives of a deceased person whose death has been brought on by the negligence of another.

Medical malpractice resulting in the death of a loved one can be due to many different factors including but not limited to, negligence, birth injury, diagnostic error, medication error, surgical error and infection.

While grief has the ability to often paralyze the loved ones left behind, please remember, there is a statute of limitation, the time in which a family must file a claim, typically 2 years in most states.

It is estimated that approximately 98,000 people in the United States die every year due to medical malpractice.

Examples of Errors Contributing to Wrongful Death:

  • Misdiagnosis of a medical condition – Failure to correctly diagnose a potentially life threatening condition or failure to correctly handle a lab specimen are a few of the misdiagnosis’s of medical conditions
  • Anesthesia error – Failure to fully review the patients history, stress, extended surgical times are some of the factors leading to anesthesia error
  • Wrong site surgery – Failure to follow specific guidelines pertaining to pre-surgery checklist have often resulted in wrong site surgery
  • Infection – Unsanitary instruments or conditions may lead to life threatening infection
  • Organ puncture – This is especially common in abdominal surgery where either the perforation of the bowel causing bacteria to leak into the body, or perforation of the uterus causing infection or severe bleeding.

Wrongful Death Claims Typically Have Four Elements:

  1. The death was caused in whole or in part due to misconduct by the defendant
  2. The defendant was negligent in the wrongful death and thus is liable for it
  3. The victim is survived by a spouse, children or other dependents
  4. There is monetary damage due to the victim’s death

Three criteria must be proven in a wrongful death due to medical malpractice lawsuit. You must show the damages suffered, the doctor’s negligence resulted in the injury and that the doctor failed to provide the standard of care and made a mistake a sensible doctor would not have made.

In most states, only the close family of the victim may file suit in a wrongful death claim. It must be shown that they are directly affected by the death. Damages for emotional grief, loss of parental guidance, loss of support, funeral expenses, the list goes on, are all very real reasons to pursue a claim.

Bringing someone to justice, or suing for punitive damages; making sure this incident is not repeated with another individual vary from state to state. Depending on the state, there are specific statutes that apply.

In addition, to these damages, there are also damages that survivors may sue for called ‘survival actions’. These are damages for the suffering the loved one may have endured prior to their death such as, knowledge of their impending death, suffering and pain. Your loved one may no longer be able to speak for themselves, but you as their survivor have the ability and the right to ensure the reason for their premature death is addressed and that justice prevails.

Surgical Negligence and Wrongful Death

Anytime a person exposes himself or herself not only to a surgical procedure, no matter how simple or complex they open themselves to the chance of error. The threat of severe bleeding, blood clots leading to pulmonary or heart embolism, forgotten surgical instruments, causing infection or lack of proper sterilization are but a few of the many situations associated with medical malpractice.

Surgical negligence is commonly linked with surgery of the brain, spine and heart. Additionally, common types of surgery resulting in death from malpractice are plastic surgery, abdominal surgery, gastric bypass, childbirth, and heart and lung surgery. Even liposuction, a common plastic surgical procedure has resulted in death.

Long hours, lack of communication, insufficient staffing, physician error, system failure and experience of the physician are all contributing factors to mistakes. Studies have found that physicians specializing in specific areas are less likely to make a mistake than those who cover a broader field. For example, a physician specializing in breast cancer is less likely to misread a mammogram than one who reads many different types of ailments.

Prescription Medication Errors

Prescription and medication errors are attributed to approximately 7,000 deaths per year. The FDA estimates that at least one death per day is due to medication error.

Some of the most common types of medication errors as reported by the American Hospital Association include, incomplete knowledge of patient information, unavailable drug information (recent up-to-date warnings), miscommunication of drug errors, due to inability to read doctor’s orders or mistakes in decimal points or abbreviations, correct labeling or similar labeling and simple distraction to the person filling or administering the medication.

Next Steps...

Loss of a loved one due to medical malpractice is something no family should have to experience. However, no matter how skilled the medical professional mistakes can and do happen. If you feel you have lost your loved one due to the negligence of a medical professional, it is important to contact a legal professional for advice as soon as possible. The timely discovery of evidence and gathering of information is essential to a successful case.

If you or a loved one has suffered from wrongful death, call our wrongful death medical malpractice lawyers at Greenberg & Bederman at 301-589-2200 or toll free 800-800-1144, or submit our free legal consulation form below.

The initial malpractice consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your cerebral palsy or malpractice case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds. A lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations, so please call right away to ensure that you do not waive your right to possible compensation.

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