Medical Malpractice

Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Attorney 

When you entrust your health to a doctor or other medical professional, you probably assume that you are receiving quality care and that everything possible will be done to address your medical condition. 

Nevertheless, while most doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers work hard to help those in their care, preventable medical misconduct happens. Thousands of people are seriously injured as a result of medical malpractice and negligence each year.

Medical Malpractice is a complex issue and a Pittsburgh medical malpractice lawyer can help you determine your rights. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of negligence at the hands of a healthcare provider, it is vital to receive the help of a professional medical negligence attorney experienced in getting the compensation you deserve.


How to Prove a Medical Malpractice Case

Bringing a medical malpractice claim can be a powerful tool to hold negligent doctors and medical professionals accountable for negligent behavior.

Should you choose to bring a lawsuit claiming that a medical professional was negligent, the first thing you must demonstrate is that the defendant had a duty of care toward you. This means that the medical professional who hurt you had a pre-existing legal relationship with you. Not surprisingly, doctors and other healthcare providers owe a duty of care to their patients.

When they breach (or violate) that duty of care and harm a patient, the result is medical malpractice. Proving a malpractice claim begins with determining whether the case meets the requirements under state law.

The following elements must be met:

  • Proof of doctor-patient relationship
  • Proof of negligent care
  • Proof that negligent care led to injuries or illness
  • Proof of specific damages

A medical malpractice attorney will obtain the doctor’s notes and hospital records, establishing that the medical professional treated the patient. This proves the doctor-patient relationship.

Examples of healthcare providers with a duty of care to the patient can include:

  • Nurses
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Hospitals
  • Lab Technicians
  • Radiologists
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Doctors
  • Physician Assistants

Doctors and other providers fall short of their duty of care when they:

  1. Fail to diagnose accurately
  2. Fail to treat properly
  3. Prescribing the wrong medication
  4. Failure to warn of treatment risks

Your attorney will gather evidence by taking testimony from witnesses and obtaining records relating to your care. Your attorney must also prove in a medical malpractice case that the healthcare provider’s acts were the direct or proximate cause of your injury.

Your attorney will engage a medical expert to review the records in your case who will provide an opinion if the care you received from your doctor fell short of applicable professional standards.

  • For example, in a situation where your doctor did not perform a biopsy and you were misdiagnosed because they failed to obtain a necessary biopsy given your symptoms and test results, the expert may conclude that the doctor misdiagnosed you, causing your illness to go untreated and worsen.

Sometimes the proximate cause is straightforward. The law calls this res ipsa loquitur, or “the thing speaks for itself.” For example, the surgeon is supposed to operate on your right leg but performs surgery on your left. Or, during surgery, the doctor leaves an object in your body, causing pain and necessitating another surgery.

Common Forms of Medical Malpractice and Negligence

Medical malpractice and negligence do not occur every time medical treatment results in a bad outcome. The law generally recognizes the practice of medicine as an “art” rather than as an exact science. Therefore, some latitude is given to practitioners concerning the way they choose to address the problems of specific patients. However, the fact remains that every day, patients across the country experience medical misconduct or receive substandard medical care that leads to serious injury, illness, or death.

Some of the most common medical malpractice suits are brought due to the following forms of misconduct:

  • Medication & Surgical Errors: Many healthcare professionals make mistakes when providing treatment to patients. This includes medication errors, when medication is improperly administered, as well as surgical errors. Patients aren’t guaranteed that their medical issues will be resolved after treatment. However, if a situation is made worse because of negligent acts by a medical professional, then the patient has a right to hold the medical provider accountable.
  • Diagnosis Errors: Medical malpractice can also include situations where a doctor fails to act at all. When a patient visits a doctor complaining of certain problems, the medical professional must act appropriately to try to determine the underlying medical issue. Yet, sometimes doctors misdiagnose the problem, delay in providing a diagnosis, or fail to diagnose a condition altogether. All of these may be examples of medical malpractice.
  • Consent Issues: The law demands that patients be informed of their treatment options and that they willingly consent to that treatment. Medical malpractice may occur in violation of this requirement in one of two ways. First, a doctor may act against a patient’s direct wishes. Second, a patient may not be made fully aware of the details of their treatment before agreeing to it.
  • Birth Injuries: Birth related medical malpractice occurs when hospital staff members act negligently or fail to use reasonable care, causing injury to the mother or child during pregnancy or delivery.
  • Medical Records Errors: If an employee of the hospital or other staff member makes an error when reading from or writing a patient’s medical record, the patient may ultimately receive an incorrect medication or dosage. Dosage errors can cause internal damage, seizure, and significant long-term injuries. This form of malpractice occurs in many hospital negligence cases.

The medical malpractice legal team at McKinney Law can provide the experienced legal advice you need.

It is important to act promptly. Statute of limitations laws limit the amount of time that an injured individual can file a lawsuit to seek justice and financial compensation for his or her damages.

It is impossible to make generalizations about the value of any wrongful death or personal injury case without knowing the details of the injuries and how the abuse took place. The law allows recovery for a wide range of situations, many of which may not be readily apparent to the injured party. This includes past medical bills, future medical treatment and rehabilitation costs, therapy, lost past wages, lost future income, punitive damages, pain and suffering, and more. An experienced personal injury attorney will fight to obtain money for you to compensate you for all of your damages, past, and future.

Compensation Options Your Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Attorney May Pursue

There are two types of damages available in medical malpractice cases: compensatory damages and punitive damages.

Compensatory damages are designed to compensate. To the extent possible, these types of damages are meant to make the person as "whole” as they were before the incident occurred. Generally, these damages can be broken up into two sub-categories:

a) actual damages (economic); and

b) general (non-economic) damages.

Actual Damages seek to reimburse a plaintiff for financial losses sustained and typically include:

  • Medical Expenses - Medical and hospitalization bills incurred to treat your injuries.
  • Wages or Loss of Income - lost due to work missed while you recuperate.
  • Life Adjustment Costs Costs of household or nursing help during recovery, including costs of wheelchair or crutches required.

General damages are awarded if the plaintiff experiences significant and continuous pain and suffering:

  • Pain and suffering - endured due to injuries and any subsequent mental anguish.
  • Disfigurement.
  • Value of medical expenses you are likely to incur in the future.
  • Value of wages you are likely to lose in the future.
  • Loss of consortium (benefits of a relationship).
  • Loss of normal life. 

Overall, general damages can, in addition to actual damages, be sought by malpractice victims and are designed to cover things that cannot be assigned an accurate dollar amount.

Understanding Punitive Damages

In certain cases, punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, may be awarded. Punitive damages are not based on actual injuries sustained. Instead, they are a way to punish the medical professional for intentional or grossly negligent conduct that caused the injury to the plaintiff. Although it is fairly uncommon to see punitive damages in a medical malpractice case, it does occur with some regularity.

One example where punitive damagesmay be appropriate is when the victim is able to prove that she was not provided with proper informed consent (e.g. by surgeon before operation, or anesthesiologists before consenting to going under before a procedure). Other such examples of medical malpractice so shocking that courts have awarded punitive damagesinclude, but are not limited to:

  • Misrepresentation or fraud regarding surgery;
  • Improperly performing a surgery or providing follow-up care following surgery;
  • Improper administering drugs or anesthesia;
  • Manipulation of medical records; and
  • Failing to perform adequate tests in establishing the health of a child.

Attorney Randall H. McKinney an be reached at 412-520-3301. If we agree to handle your medical malpractice claim, there is no legal fee unless we are successful in getting you monetary compensation. 

Medical Malpractice FAQs

How Common is Medical Malpractice and Negligence?

Medical malpractice occurs when doctors, nurses, aides, assistants, and other medical workers provide a substandard treatment to a patient. This can occur due to procedural mistakes, carelessness, or other professional failings in many different settings, from doctors’ offices to emergency rooms. According to the National Academy of Sciences, approximately 98,000 Americans die from medical errors and misconduct each year. Hundreds of thousands of others are injured annually as a result of preventable mistreatment. 

How Do You Know If You’ve Suffered Medical Misconduct?

The determination of whether a medical professional has met the standard of care is based on a comparison to other professionals in the same field and the same geographical region. Would other doctors in this part of the country have acted in the same way as your doctor did under these circumstances? Answering this question is the crux of medical malpractice lawsuits. That is why these suits rely on expert witnesses who can explain to a jury whether your doctor acted in accord with other competent medical professionals.

This is also what makes medical malpractice and negligence a complex area of practice for hospital malpractice lawyers. Medical malpractice attorneys practicing in this area not only need the appropriate legal knowledge necessary to pursue any legal claim, but they also require an understanding of the relevant medical issues and must have the ability to retain the necessary medical experts who can confirm that medical negligence took place.

What is the Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Lawsuits?

When a person suffers injuries because of a healthcare provider’s error or negligence, the injured patient may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, in each medical malpractice claim, it is extremely important for the patient to understand that the statute of limitations limits the amount of time they have to file a malpractice lawsuit.

Each state has its own medical negligence laws that define the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim and for defining malpractice.

How does a medical malpractice statute of limitations work? The statute of limitations is a time window for filing a lawsuit. Typically in personal injury cases - including most medical negligence claims - the clock on the statute of limitations starts “ticking” on the date that the patient suffers the injury. If the patient fails to file a medical malpractice lawsuit by the time the clock runs out, then that patient’s claim will likely be time-barred. 

Pennsylvania statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years. For most patients the clock will begin “ticking” on the date of the injury, which may be the date the patient had surgery or received an incorrect diagnosis. Then, in most situations, the patient will have two years from that date to file a lawsuit.

However, medical malpractice claims can be particularly complicated when it comes to the statute of limitations since sometimes patients do not realize they have been injured until months or even years after the initial injury. Accordingly, many states have special provisions when it comes to the statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases.

Get a Free Consultation From a Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or a family member might have been hurt by inadequate medical care, it is important to reach out to a medical malpractice lawyer to learn about your options. You may not know for sure whether you have a medical malpractice suit, but the first step is meeting with an experienced medical negligence attorney, sharing your story, and learning more. Contact us today and let's get started on your claim.