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Portland Medical Malpractice Law Blog

How are damages different in a wrongful death case?

Whenever someone passes away as a result of a doctor's error, the family members of the deceased may have the right to pursue wrongful death claims. A wrongful death claim related to medical malpractice, however, is different from a claim related to a car accident, drowning or premises liability incident. That's because of the environment and circumstances that might lead to a malpractice death.

Close family members in medical malpractice wrongful death claims might pursue the following types of damages:

Medical malpractice: What does ‘res ipsa’ mean?

Whenever a personal injury plaintiff files a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice, they will be at a severe disadvantage. The treating physician are experienced in all things related to medicine, so they will be particularly skilled at defending their actions in court. Not only that, but the medical provider probably created the very medical records that the plaintiff will use as evidence in his or her case. Physicians are skilled at writing chart notes in a way that reduces the chances that they could be at legal risk later.

This is where the legal doctrine of res ipsa loquitur could come into play to assist the defendant. In Latin, this legal phrase means "the thing speak for itself." It's common to hear this phrase in English outside of legal contexts even today. This rule implies that plaintiffs only need to reveal the fat that his or her injuries arise as a result of the doctor's negligence.

Hospitals and medication errors

Think about the average hospital with countless patients receiving care at the same time. There are only so many nurses and doctors to go around, and because hospitals are always trying to save money, they're often pushing themselves to get more done with fewer people. As they push the limit of what's possible in this regard, serious errors and mistakes can occur.

One problem that is common in hospitals involves giving the wrong medication to patients. In most cases, this isn't fatal or injurious and nurses or doctors resolve the medication mistake soon enough. In some cases, however, a potentially dangerous medication is given to the wrong person -- perhaps to a patient with an allergy or to a patient who should never take the drug due to the possibility of a negative reaction.

Wrongful death and medical malpractice

Doctors and surgeons make mistakes on a frequent basis. After all, they are only human and human beings are prone to misjudgment, forgetfulness and oversight. In the vast majority of these mistakes in treatment, the patients don't suffer any serious injuries.

In some of them, however, the patients have catastrophic injuries or die. In cases where doctors' errors and medical malpractice result in the death of a patient, the surviving family members may want to investigate the pursuit of a wrongful death claim.

Did your doctor or nurse make a medication mistake?

Whenever a doctor prescribes medication -- and whenever a nurse administers medication at a hospital -- there is a chance of making a mistake. In fact, these mistakes happen all the time and every day at hospitals throughout the United States, and usually, they don't result in any kind of injury or adverse reaction in the patient. Sometimes, however, a medication error will come with devastating and fatal consequences.

When prescribing medications, doctors need to consider a lot of different factors, such as the health of the patient, the unique bodily characteristics of the patient, other medications being taken and the potential for allergic reaction. By failing to consider and weigh all of these issues, a doctor could make a grave and fatal mistake.

3 types of surgical errors: Were you a victim?

It's terrifying to undergo surgery for a serious illness. It's even more terrifying to think of the possibility that your surgical procedure could leave you in worse shape than you were before because of a surgical error. However, surgical errors happen on a regular basis throughout the United States. Here are three common types of surgical errors that patients should be aware of in this regard:

Robotic surgery mistakes

When is a doctor at fault for a delayed diagnosis?

Medical doctors don't have the magical ability to diagnose every illness perfectly. Nevertheless, doctors do have a duty to their patients to follow standard medical procedure. In this respect, they need to ask specific questions, check certain areas of the body and perform specific tests depending on the answers to their questions. They should also keep investigating the ailment until they have arrived at a similar answer and diagnosis to that of any other reasonable doctor.

Although different doctors could have different opinions about certain circumstances, part of the process of diagnosing a patient involves a doctor listing other possibilities in order of descending probability. This allows the doctor to stay open to other ideas and not completely rule out all other explanations for the patient's symptoms.

3 ways to avoid a medical malpractice injury

It's your doctor's responsibility to ask you the right questions and fully examine your symptoms to accurately diagnose and treat your medical condition. It's your doctor's responsibility to follow standard medical procedure when giving you care. This is why -- when a doctor is negligent or reckless when administering care -- patients who are injured as a result can pursue a medical negligence claim for financial damages.

All that said, wouldn't it be better to bypass a malpractice injury in the first place?

What factors will affect the amount of a wrongful death recovery?

Most family members who are pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit want an idea of how much money in damages they can — or should — pursue. The answer to this question is difficult to pin down until the wrongful death suit progresses further into litigation. However, there generally needs to be a starting point, i.e., an initial dollar amount to be claimed in the lawsuit.

When trying to determine the amount of losses to claim, several factors could affect the figure, such as:

  • The victim's age
  • The victim's health before death
  • The victim's earning capacity
  • Whether the victim was supporting a family
  • The nature of the accident that caused the victim's death
  • The amount of suffering endured by the victim
  • Whether the victim incurred significant medical bills prior to death

3 medical errors that could lead to death

There are many kinds of medical mistakes that can threaten you as a patient. Among them are misdiagnoses, unnecessary treatments and uncoordinated care.

Each of these mistakes or problems in a hospital setting can lead to a patient suffering serious injuries or result in death. These issues have to be taken seriously. If you're hurt because of one of these mistakes, you're well within your rights to look into your legal options.

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