In a recent study by John Hopkins, it was revealed that over 250,000 people in the United States die each year as a result of medical errors. The numbers are claimed to be as high as 440,000 in other reports. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the nation, after heart disease and cancer.
The reason for the discrepancy in numbers is that doctors, medical examiners, coroners, and funeral directors rarely make notes of the system failures and human errors on death certificates. Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relies on death certificates to post statistics for deaths in the United States.
Grandmother Dies After Surgeons Drilled Her Skull
81-year-old Bimla Nayyar was taken to a hospital in Dearborn, Michigan by her family for what was meant to be a simple and routine surgery for a dislocated jaw in January 2012. However, things went devastatingly wrong when Mrs. Nayyar was wheeled into the operation theatre.
However, at some point while preparing for the surgery, the Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center staff mixed up Mrs. Nayyar’s records with another patient’s – this was later confirmed in court by the hospital’s attorneys. Instead of operating on her jaw, surgeons drilled a hole in her skull, looking for brain bleeding that was not there. She died of complications caused by the procedure two months later.
In 2015, Mrs. Nayyar’s family was awarded $20 million by a jury. However, the highest court in Michigan said that the family would not be able to collect a penny – due to a bad legal gamble they made.
In a short order by the Michigan Supreme Court, the lawyers of the family were faulted for arguing that Mrs. Nayyar’s death was caused by ordinary negligence – this type of claim does not place any kind of limits on the amount of money that could be awarded to plaintiffs.
The justices wrote that the lawyers were barred from following through an ordinary negligence claim in an earlier ruling in the case. They should have in fact argued medical malpractice instead, according to which financial awards are capped. According to the order, they did not do so, which meant that the award had to be voided. The order leaves a ruling by a lower court overturning the $20 million award in place.
Geoffrey Fieger, the Nayyar family’s lead attorney, pleaded with the court to restore the award, noting that during the proceedings, the hospital had admitted negligence on its part.
When Fieger was retained by the Nayyar family after her death in 2012, he said that the case was the worst and most shocking abuse that he had seen in nearly 40 years of practice.
Mrs. Nayyar was supposed to undergo a procedure to treat bilateral jaw replacement. However, the lawsuit filed by the family alleged that staff at the hospital had inadvertently placed her name on the medical records of a patient requiring brain surgery immediately.
In an interview in 2015, Fieger revealed the gory details of what surgeons did to the grandmother. They drilled five holes into her skull, sawed the right side of her skull out of her head and poked her brain. The surgeons then realized that she was the wrong patient. It was after this procedure that Mrs. Nayyar became unable to breathe on her own.
Suffering a heart attack a few months earlier, Mrs. Nayyar was never able to recover from the surgery. She spent 60 days on life support and then passed away.
Officials of the Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center contended that they had followed the proper standard of care at the time and that the mix-up was not caused by flawed procedures at the facility.
According to the order by the Michigan Supreme Court, initially, the Nayyar family’s lawsuit alleged ordinary medical negligence, but the claim was dismissed by a trial court. In turn, the family refiled as a medical malpractice lawsuit, and negligence was conceded by the hospital so that the case was presented before a jury only on the issues of causation of death and damages.
However, during the trail, the attorneys of the Nayyar family continued to present the case as an ordinary negligence in order to try and win a judgment unmoored from the cap on financial damages. This move on the lawyers’ part cost the Nayyar family its award of $20 million. As per Michigan laws, if their attorneys had successfully argued medical malpractice, the family of the deceased could have received an award of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
How to File a Suit Against a Hospital
When a hospital makes an error rising to the level of negligence and that error results in injuries, a patient has the right to receive compensation. While medical malpractice laws are designed to make sure that the rights of patients who have received substandard medical care are protected, the patient themselves must take the first step in asserting those rights.
· File a Claim Before the Statute of Limitations Expires: One of the biggest mistakes that a patient who has been a victim of medical negligence can make is waiting too long to file a claim. Statutes of limitations, or time limits, require patients to be prompt in filing their claim. The statute of limitations varies from state to state, but they can be as short as one year from when the medical error was made.
· Consult a Medical Malpractice Attorney: It is not an astute idea to try and handle a medical malpractice case on your own. Cases like these can be extremely complex, not only from a medical point of view, but also from a medical and procedural standpoint as well. Having a good understanding of the law is not the only thing you require to prove your case. You also need to be familiar with the types of hoops that you must jump through as a plaintiff, including retaining the right expert medical witness. If you have a medical malpractice case, make sure that you hire a profound lawyer.
· Determine Whether the Hospital Itself was Negligent: It is crucial to determine that the negligence was on the hospital’s part and not an independent contractor when filing a malpractice lawsuit. If your case involves an individual doctor that provided you with substandard care and that doctor is an independent contractor, you will need to file a claim against the doctor and not the hospital. In most cases, you cannot sue the hospital for a treatment error made by a doctor, unless that doctor is the hospital’s employee, or when the incompetence of the doctor was known by the hospital.
· Obtain Medical Records and Determine Damages: You should obtain your medical records from the hospital – these records must be kept by the hospital for at least a few years after treatment. Your attorney will need to review those records. After this, you can determine the damages to file for in your claim. It is critical that you determine the value of your case so that you and the hospital can agree on a settlement (that is, if it offers one) or so that you can get an idea of how much you should claim for damages if your case goes to trial.
· Determine Who to Sue: Was it the hospital or the doctor who was responsible for the medical error? Or was it a nurse or ambulatory service? If you are not sure about the answer, you may be able to sue more than one party. Keep in mind that it is important to file a lawsuit against all responsible parties as you may not be able to go back later to change the list of defendants in your claim.
The next steps are to follow the procedural rules in your state to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and then draft and file a complaint. In many states, plaintiffs are required to jump through certain hoops before they can file a lawsuit – these requirements vary from state to state. You will need to find out what the requirements are in your state – your attorney can help with this part of the process.
When drafting a complaint, you should enter your name and the names of the negligent parties, describe how the injury occurred, the harm that was caused, and the amount of money you expect as compensation. You will need to file your complaint at the office of the clerk of your county’s state court branch, which is usually known as "Superior Court, County of (your county’s name)."
$9 Million Settlement for Texan Man
A man from East Texas will receive a settlement of $9 million after he and a hospital in Tyler reached an agreement in a negligence lawsuit.
A jury awarded the man $43 million for the lawsuit he filed against East Texas Medical Center and physicians, Dr. David Lundy, Dr. Gary Boyd and Dr. Elias I. Fanous Jr.
62 years old at the time of the incident, Billy Pierce was in an induced coma for over a month. According to his attorney, Dr. Boyd and the hospital allegedly abandoned him.
A representative of East Texas Medical Center said that after the verdict, there were negotiations between both parties and they reached an agreement. According to the agreement, the medical center will pay Pierce $9 million within 30 days.
The jury at the trial found that the hospital was grossly negligent in retaining and supervising a doctor on probation whose improper care and abandonment resulted in a patient’s complete loss of quality of life and ability to provide for his family.
Liability of a Hospital for Non-Employee Doctor’s Actions
Even if a hospital would not be generally liable for the malpractice of an independent contractor doctor, there are certain situations in which a hospital may be held responsible.
One such exception is when a hospital retains a doctor who is known to be incompetent or dangerous. In a number of states, hospitals are held liable if an incompetent or dangerous doctor is given staff privileges, even if the doctor is an independent contractor.
Some states also hold the hospital responsible if it should have known that a doctor who was previously safe had become incompetent or a danger to patients.
For example, if a doctor becomes highly addicted to drugs and the management staff of the hospital knew about this addiction, or it was so obvious that they should have known about it, a patient who suffers injury because of that doctor can probably file a lawsuit against the hospital.
Additionally, if the hospital does not clearly state that a doctor is not an employee and a patient is injured by that doctor, the patient can file a malpractice lawsuit against the hospital. In an attempt to avoid this problem, hospitals inform patients in the admissions forms that the doctor is not an employee of the hospital but an independent contractor.
RMFW Law Rises to the Top in Hospital Negligence Cases
In most cases, it is vital to seek the advice or representation of a stalwart and profound medical malpractice attorney because the law in this type of cases is highly regulated by a complex body of rules. You should keep in mind that these rules vary considerably from one state to another. But no one knows this domain better than RMFW Law in New York.
Having the knowledge and experience of an attorney can go a long way in helping you obtain the compensation you deserve for the injuries caused by a doctor or hospital’s negligence.
If you or somebody you know has been injured or suffered a complication due to the negligence of a hospital, you should immediately consult a well-known medical malpractice attorney at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, of RMFW Law at 212 697 9280 to review your case as just mentioned. The free consultation is paramount so that the legal pro can go through your documents and determine whether you have a viable case.
If it is determined that if you do have one, your legal pro at RMFW Law will help you begin the process of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital. We will make sure that your rights are protected and that you receive fair compensation for your injuries that you are entitled to by law.
You pay us nothing up front. If your case is viable we will carry this load for you all the way until the end until we settle or until there is a verdict. These cases are complex and you will not have a case unless a medical expert backs up your claim. We know who to call so you need to call us.
Once we have a medical professional that is willing to support your case then we can proceed. You pay us nothing for this – we only take a percentage at the end. Call us today! Let’s hear what you have to say.