We naturally assume our doctors and other medical professionals will take good care of us when we need them. Unfortunately, some patients are subjected to serious and, in many cases, life-altering mistakes made by medical care providers. When you suffer injuries because of your physician’s errors, it can cause major physical, financial, and emotional losses.
Nevada affords victims of medical malpractice the right to pursue compensation for damages when their injuries resulted from a medical provider’s faulty or substandard care. Because these cases have very strict requirements and require substantial proof, injured patients or their family members should speak to a medical malpractice attorney in Las Vegas for help filing a claim or lawsuit.
Do I have a valid medical malpractice claim?
NRS 41A.009 defines medical malpractice as “the failure of a physician, hospital or employee of a hospital, in rendering services, to use the reasonable care, skill or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances.”
Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lab workers, and health care administrators are not immune from mistakes. They are human, after all. Not all errors or injuries constitute malpractice. It is not malpractice simply because your condition worsened or your treatment was ineffective. Rather, in order to have a valid medical malpractice claim, your provider must have done something that was in breach of the industry standard of care, something that other doctors in a similar situation would not have done.
For instance, if you went to the emergency room with complaints of chest pains, the ER doctor should know to order an EKG, evaluate you for heart attack, etc. If the doctor quickly dismissed your chest pains as anxiety and released you without following standard diagnostic protocols and you had a massive heart attack later that night, the doctor’s oversight and delayed diagnosis may be valid grounds for a malpractice case.
Conversely, if the doctor handled matters correctly and treated you correctly, and you still suffered a heart attack, it would not be malpractice.
What are some common types of medical mistakes?
Medical malpractice can occur in any branch of medicine, at any stage of treatment, and with any party along the chain of care. Below are some of the types of mistakes that plaintiffs cite in malpractice claims and lawsuits.
- misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis
- prescription mistakes, e.g., wrong drug, wrong dosage, contraindicated medicines
- lab work mistakes, e.g., faulty readings, wrong patient, tampered specimens
- surgical mistakes, e.g., wrong site surgery, wrong patient, leaving instruments behind in the patient, performing surgery without consent
- hospital issues, e.g., surgical fires, hospital acquired infections, delayed treatment
- failing to explain the potential effects of treatments or to explain alternative treatments
- nursing home abuse and neglect
- pregnancy, labor, and delivery mistakes, e.g., insufficient monitoring of baby or mother, improper use of forceps, delayed caesarean section
What are some important things I should know about malpractice cases?
If you or your loved one suffered harm as a result of a medical mistake, there are a few important things you should know right off the bat:
- There is a time limit for filing medical malpractice lawsuits, which is generally one year in Nevada. Do not delay taking legal action; start taking steps straightaway because overstepping the statute of limitations thwarts your rights to compensation.
- You can pursue compensation for special (monetary) damages (e.g., medical expenses, lost wages, etc.) and general (non-monetary) damages (e.g., pain and suffering). Make sure your lawyer helps you create a comprehensive list of damages so you recover fair compensation.
- You need a lot of evidence. To prove medical malpractice occurred, in addition to providing your medical records, you must also find a medical expert who will testify that your medical provider breached the industry’s standard of care and caused your injuries.
- The doctor’s medical malpractice insurance company will usually pay your settlement or judgement, not the doctor him or herself.
- Medical malpractice cases are complex, often contentious, and insurers aggressively defend them. It is ill-advised to attempt to handle your case solo. Hire a qualified attorney to help you navigate the process and get the compensation you need.