Boston Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Boston is often called the “Mecca of medicine.” It is home to some of the most prestigious hospitals in the nation, including Mass General, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Thirteen of the city’s largest employers are hospitals, and the reputation of the area’s medical facilities draws expert researchers and highly sought-after practitioners.
While being in the presence of some of the most respected medical professionals in the world is a source of pride for the city, these professionals are not immune from making mistakes. If the mistake resulted from a deviation from the established standard of care, you can hold the health care provider or even the facility liable.
If a medical error physically harmed you in Boston, an experienced Boston medical malpractice attorney from Finkelstein & Partners can help you obtain compensation for your injury while holding those responsible for the injury accountable for their mistakes.
We are proud of our track record with medical malpractice cases; while these are only past results and can’t guarantee an outcome in any case, previous successes include:
- A $3.25 million settlement for the family members of a 30-year-old woman who died of acute respiratory distress after health care providers failed to provide timely treatment for her asthma.
- A $2.3 million settlement for the husband of a woman who died as a result of a surgical error that occurred during laser spine surgery.
- A $2.25 million settlement for a woman whose doctor failed to detect and repair internal tearing after a vaginal delivery, resulting in ongoing complications.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor fails to provide appropriate treatment of a condition, fails to take appropriate action in diagnosing a condition, or provides substandard treatment that results in harm, injury, or death to the patient.
Health care facilities and providers are required to observe a standard of care. They must take the steps a reasonable professional with similar training and in similar circumstances would take.
Most Boston medical malpractice claims are the result of an error made by a provider. Not all errors result in a medical malpractice claim. Because of the strict and often burdensome requirements for filing this sort of claim, you must prove the mistake injured you, and you sustained damaging consequences, such as the inability to work or manage self-care tasks independently.
Common Medical Errors that Give Rise to Boston Medical Malpractice Claims
There isn’t just one type of doctor who faces the risk of being sued for medical malpractice, and this type of legal process is not reserved only for the errors caused by doctors. All health care providers, including those providing dental, optometry, mental health, or chiropractic services are also subject to legal liability for harm that results from their mistakes.
There also isn’t just one type of error that results in a Boston medical malpractice claim, but many. Here are some of the more common medical errors that lead to medical malpractice claims.
A medication error can occur at any point from when the doctor prescribes medication to a patient to when the patient takes the medication.
The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives more than 100,000 reports each year of suspected medication errors, including doctors prescribing the wrong dose of medication for the patient; prescribing the wrong medication to treat the patient’s illness; the pharmacy providing the wrong medication to the patient; or giving a patient a medication they can’t take with other medicines they already take or that the doctor would have avoided by taking an adequate patient history.
Diagnostic errors make up the largest share of medical malpractice claims and tend to carry the highest risk of harm for the patient of any medical error. This type of error also frequently results in the highest payouts through medical malpractice claims.
Diagnostic errors are often the result of miscommunication, a failure to take an accurate patient history, or a failure to properly read the diagnostic test results.
Some of the types of diagnostic errors that can result in patient harm include:
- Failure to diagnose an issue indicated by symptoms, diagnostic tests, and patient history.
- Misdiagnosing a medical condition, which can result in providing the wrong treatment to the patient.
- A delayed diagnosis, which can cause a worsening condition.
Surgical errors involve any mistake during a surgical procedure, including:
- Providing too much or too little anesthesia to the patient before the procedure begins.
- Failing to monitor the patient’s vitals while they are under general anesthesia.
- Operating on the wrong body part.
- Performing surgery on the wrong patient.
- Carelessly injuring body parts that are not the subject of the procedure.
- Leaving a surgical sponge or instrument in the body cavity after the surgery is complete.
Failure to Prevent Infection
Healthcare-associated infections are a known risk of having a surgical procedure. However, the standard of care requires providers to avoid these infections by using sterilization procedures when changing wound dressings or administering medication, and cleaning all hospital areas and surfaces.
Failing to follow a facility’s infection-control procedures can cause a malpractice claim if negligence seriously harms a patient.
Health providers aren’t only responsible for the care they provide while the patient is in the facility undergoing a procedure. They also must determine when the patient is ready to go home and provide instructions for continued home treatment.
Common medical errors that occur after the patient has undergone the procedure include:
- Prematurely discharging the patient from the hospital before ensuring they do not experience any complications from the procedure.
- Failure to provide adequate discharge instructions for the patient.
Despite the fragility of newborns, the process they undergo to be born often involves intense pressure and a high risk of injury. It is not at all unusual for an infant to experience minor injuries during birth.
However, medical errors by providers before the birth process begins, during birth, or in the hours or days following the infant’s arrival can cause the type of serious injuries that result in a medical malpractice case.
Some of the errors that can lead to a birth injury include:
- Failure to perform a C-section when diagnostic results or the mother’s or infant’s symptoms indicate that one is necessary.
- Performing an unnecessary C-section.
- Failing to diagnose and/or treat a medical condition discovered during pregnancy.
- Failing to use birthing instruments properly, such as forceps, resulting in a preventable injury to the baby.
Nursing Home Negligence
Hospitals aren’t the only place where individuals receive medical care. Skilled nursing facilities, more commonly referred to as nursing homes, are frequently relied on to provide housing and care to elderly and vulnerable adults.
Licensed care providers staff these facilities. They must provide a standard of care, including fall or infection prevention, the administration of medication, and supervision or assistance with physical activity or self-care tasks.
Failing to provide the federally level of medical care to a nursing home resident can also result in a medical malpractice claim.
To perform surgery on a patient, the physician must explain the procedure in advance, including disclosing any risks that the patient faces if they choose to have the procedure and any available alternatives.
Failing to provide this information to the patient is known as a failure to obtain informed consent and can give rise to a medical malpractice claim if the procedure produces such unreasonable or unsavory risks that the patient would have opted out if they had all the information.
Seeking Compensation for Injuries Caused by Medical Errors
Medical errors kill more than 250,000 people in the U.S. each year and leave many more to grapple with serious and life-altering injuries as a result. These errors occur in the smallest of clinics and the largest and most-respected hospitals.
If a health care provider’s error harmed you or you lost a loved one from a medical error, you can seek compensation by filing a legal claim against the at-fault provider’s insurance policy or through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Generally, you must file medical malpractice lawsuits within three years of the injury or death, or when you discovered the error. In some cases, however, this time limit can be tolled.
The law permits the tolling of the statute of limitations if the claimant was a child when the injury occurred or when the victim does not immediately know that an error caused his or her injuries.
To have a positive outcome in your medical malpractice case, you must prove the provider’s failure to provide a proper standard of care.
You do this by establishing:
- A provider-patient relationship existed between the provider and the patient.
- The provider failed to exercise the standard of care, which refers to the actions that a reasonable and similarly educated provider would take in a given set of circumstances to protect a patient from harm.
- This failure resulted in an error that injured or killed the patient and caused economic and psychological costs to the patient or his or her family members.
The Compensation You Can Receive
Massachusetts allows the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. The word “damage” in civil cases refers to the compensation that the claimant obtains.
Economic damages involve compensation for the costs of the injury, while non-economic damages provide financial relief for the quality-of-life impacts that the claimant has experienced as a result of the injury.
Damages commonly claimed in Boston medical malpractice injury cases include:
- Medical expenses incurred in the course of repairing the damage caused by the error.
- Lost wages from the inability to work while recovering from the injury.
- Loss of future earning capacity if the injury results in permanent disability and impacts your ability to earn an income.
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
Those seeking damages through a medical malpractice wrongful death claim can include expenses and impacts such as:
- Conscious pain and suffering the deceased endured between the time that the medical error occurred and the time of death.
- Lost income and benefits the deceased could have reasonably earned throughout his or her lifetime.
- Loss of care, companionship, comfort, guidance, and counsel that the deceased offered to his or her family members.
- The cost of funeral and burial or cremation.
Massachusetts caps the non-economic damages a claimant can recover in a medical malpractice case at $500,000 unless you can prove:
- A substantial or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily function.
- Substantial disfigurement.
- Other special circumstances that would deprive an injured person of a just result by imposing the cap.
Put Finkelstein & Partners to Work on Your Boston Medical Malpractice Claim
Boston residents have great pride in the city’s medical community and place an enormous amount of trust in the individuals providing their medical care. However, even in places where medicine is as revered as in Boston, mistakes can happen in plenty of ways.
The experienced Boston medical malpractice attorneys at Finkelstein & Partners have a deep understanding of the severity of injuries a medical error can cause. From establishing a value for a claimant’s case to intensely negotiating with an insurance provider who is reluctant to settle, we are committed to ensuring the rights of our medical malpractice clients to obtain the compensation and accountability they deserve.