The consequences of medical errors and malpractice can often have a devastating impact on the lives of patients and their families. Medical errors can affect healthy persons undergoing routine treatment, persons undergoing emergency care, and those suffering life threatening and chronic illnesses. When the patient suspects a medical error occurred, it is often appropriate to consult an experienced attorney who can help counsel whether it is reasonable and possible to consider a claim for health care malpractice.
Typical examples of medical malpractice include:
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis;
- Surgical errors or anesthesia errors;
- Medication or prescription errors;
- Errors involving prenatal care and childbirth; and
- Errors involving care and custody during treatment in rehabilitation and care facilities.
An attorney or medical/legal professional investigating with care and attention to medical detail can assist in differentiating between the normal risks and consequences of illness and treatment, and errors for which the health care provider can be held legally responsible through the court system.
To pursue a law case in Connecticut, the patient must prove, as required by Connecticut statute 52-184c(a), the medical provider breached the legal “standard of care” of medical treatment that is recognized as “acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers.” This means the patient must consult a health care provider to obtain an opinion as to whether the care provided was acceptable. Patients are not entitled to perfect care. They are only entitled to reasonable or standard care. In fact, before a lawsuit for medical malpractice can be filed, Connecticut law requires the patient, under most circumstances, to obtain an opinion from a medical provider in the field of medicine involved that a reasonable inquiry was conducted by the patient and that the patient had a good faith belief that medical negligence occurred. This Connecticut statute 52-190a(a) attempts to protect medical providers from unwarranted lawsuits. However, the investigation that is required before a lawsuit need not be conclusive. The patient’s attorney is entitled to conduct an investigation during a lawsuit to learn what actually occurred by meeting with witnesses, and relying on court process to allow production of records, sworn written answers to interrogatories, and testimony under oath at a deposition, trial or hearing. The court system provides a powerful tool to enable the patient to discover the truth of what occurred.
In addition, the patient must prove the medical error was the legal or proximate cause of the medical outcome. This is often the most contested issue in a medical case. For example, in a case involving a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of a chronic and progressive disease, such as heart disease or cancer, the patient must prove through medical evidence that the patient lost an opportunity for a successful medical treatment. This was the subject of the famous Connecticut Supreme court opinion, Boone v. William Backus Hospital, 272 Conn. 551 (2005), involving a tragic death of a young child who was treated for an ear ache. Therefore, even if the patient can prove that a medical mistake occurred, and these errors are extremely upsetting to the patient or the patient’s family involved in a medical crisis, it is necessary, before undertaking a medical case, to be certain the patient can prove that the mistake or error changed the outcome of treatment. Nevertheless, despite all the limitations and obstacles the plaintiff faces seeking to recover compensation for medical fault, there are many compelling examples for law cases. These cases are often among the only means available for the patient to attempt to move forward.
Contact the Knowledgeable Connecticut Medical Malpractice Attorneys at The APEX Law Firm
If you or someone you love has been injured through medical negligence or have questions about whether you have a viable case, call our experienced medical malpractice attorneys at The APEX Law Firm. Your consultation is free and there is never an obligation. In Hartford County call (860) 900-0900 or visit our online contact form.