Medical Malpractice and Elder Abuse
The Fair Oaks Law Office of Robert L. Meissner has the experience to represent your medical malpractice claim in California state courts, from Folsom and El Dorado Hills to Roseville and Sacramento.
A doctor or other medical professional commits medical malpractice when he or she fails to meet the standard of care expected of a person with the special skills, knowledge, training, and ability expected of an average practitioner in the area. When that breach of duty of care causes harm, the injured patient is entitled to compensatory damages.
The practice of medicine is often subjective, sometimes making it difficult to definitively determine whether a doctor’s conduct in a particular situation constituted acceptable care or malpractice. For this reason, both parties in a case typically present their own expert to testify as to whether or not malpractice was committed. Sometimes, the defendant doctor serves as an expert in his or her own defense. Regardless, it is up to the attorneys and the expert witnesses to convince the jury as to the nature of the facts in the case.
Even though medical decisions are often subjective, there are many examples in this field of fairly obvious mistakes that have been made. Common claims include:
- Surgical mistakes
- Operating on the wrong body part
- Operating on the wrong patient
- Performing the wrong procedure
- Leaving medical instruments and other foreign objects in the patient after surgery
- Prescribing or giving the wrong medication
- Failing to diagnose or misdiagnosing a condition
- Failing to treat a condition or improper treatment of a condition
- Failing to fully inform a patient before treatment
Doctors are protected to a certain extent by obtaining the patient’s informed consent, ensuring that he or she is aware of all of the risks and benefits associated with a course of treatment. Whether a given course of action exceeded the bounds of the patient’s consent is a question of fact which must sometimes be litigated at trial.
The doctor may be able to use a defense of contributory negligence in cases where the patient did not fully disclose medical history or other pertinent information before treatment, or where the patient did not fully follow doctor’s orders during the course of treatment. As noted on our personal injury page, the fact of plaintiff’s own negligence will reduce the potential for recovery, but may not bar a lawsuit altogether.
In a medical malpractice case, non-economic damages are capped by statute at $250,000, and the statute of limitations runs for one year from the date the injury is discovered, up to three years from the date it was caused. In cases where a foreign object was left inside the patient, the statute runs from the time the object was discovered or should have been discovered through reasonable care.
Elder abuse often occurs in nursing homes or other facilities charged with the care of persons who are vulnerable and often at their mercy of their caregivers.
Elder abuse in California is governed by the Elder Abuse and Dependant Adult Civil Protection Act, which creates both criminal and civil liability against individual abusers as well as institutions which negligently supervise employees or fail to respond to reports of suspected abuse. Neglecting to provide a patient with necessary goods or services, such as food and medical care, is also a form of abuse recognized by the Act.
Elders in institutionalized care are especially vulnerable to abuse because they are sometimes isolated from family or outside individuals who may be in a position to notice the abuse. Also, members of the elder population often suffer from diminished physical or mental capacity, making them easy targets for physical as well as financial abuse.
If you or a loved one has been harmed as a result of medical malpractice committed by a doctor, hospital, or other health care provider, you should consult with an experienced personal injury trial lawyer regarding your rights. Likewise, if you suspect abuse of an elder family member in institutional care, contact the state Attorney General or seek the services of an experienced trial lawyer with the skills and dedication to stop the abuse and seek compensation for the harm it has caused.
Contact our medical malpractice attorney at The Law Office of Robert L. Meissner at 1-916-473-1537 or use our online form and contact us for a free initial consultation today!