Generally speaking, doctors and other healthcare providers have a special duty to operate in accordance with the accepted practices and procedures of the medical community within which they practice when treating patients. In the legal realm, this duty is commonly referred to as the standard of care. Doctors and other medical professionals are charged with such a duty because they are trusted with the lives and well-being of their patients and clients. If it is proven that a doctor or medical professional has strayed from the duty of care, and as a result has caused harm to a patient, the doctor and/or company who employs the doctor can be held responsible for damages caused by the medical malpractice. Medical facilities such as hospitals may also be held responsible by a jury.
Recently, a Judge in Cook County, Illinois, upheld a $52 million medical malpractice verdict against the University of Chicago Medical Center. The lawsuit was initiated by a woman who alleged that the carelessness of the facility caused her baby to be born with cerebral palsy and a severe seizure disorder. The lawsuit cited nearly 20 mishaps against the medical center, including failure to carefully monitor the mother and child, ignoring warning signs of fetal distress, and failure to timely perform a C-section. As a result, the child failed to receive oxygen to the brain. The large jury verdict comes after nearly 12 years, and it highlights the complexities associated with medical malpractice and birth injury cases.
In medical malpractice cases, the standard of care can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. This may seem odd, that there is not one universal standard for practicing healthcare providers across the United States. The rationale behind the variation is the thought that different doctors may have methods for treating or diagnosing patients based on accepted standards within the communities in which they practice. For example, a doctor in Tennessee may have a different approach to diagnosing an illness than a doctor in California.
What does matter, however, is if a doctor or healthcare provider breached their standard of care. Medical malpractice is a form of tort law. As such, a plaintiff must prove the four elements required in nearly all tort cases: duty, breach, causation, and damages. While it is true that medical malpractice falls in the realm of general tort law, these cases can be highly technical and complex. Often cases will turn on very technical medical terms, procedures, or theories, and they usually require a medley of medical experts to adequately show one of the four elements. Another key difference is often the nature of the injuries. Enormous verdicts in medical malpractice cases illustrate the gravity in which society places blame at the feet of medical professionals.
Medical malpractice lawsuits in Tennessee often come as a result of devastating injuries, many of which are permanent in nature. In addition to having a specific statute of limitation, each state has enacted technical procedures that must be followed before a lawsuit can be brought. Tennessee law, for example, contains specific provisions about pre-suit notice to the defendants. One false step can be the difference between recovering for yourself or loved one or having your claim barred forever. To discuss your case with an experienced Tennessee medical malpractice attorney, call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 1-800-529-4004.