Medical and health care providers — primarily hospitals, surgeons, doctors, pharmacists, physicians, nurses and emergency medical technicians (“EMTs”) -- are expected to offer us care and support during our most critical moments. The vast majority of medical and health care providers do offer excellent care that will help us to recover from a personal injury or medical condition. However, some providers fail to meet the requisite standard of care, and, under such circumstances, may be guilty of medical malpractice. This Guide sets forth some of the basic concepts for consumers who may have been victims of medical malpractice in South Carolina (SC) and have not yet consulted with a medical malpractice attorney or lawyer.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice, commonly called “medmal” for short, generally occurs when a negligent, careless or reckless act, mistake, error, or omission by a doctor or other medical professional causes damage or harm to a patient. It has been estimated that almost 98,000 people die in hospitals in the United States each year, and that medication errors injure approximately 1.3 million people per year. Medical malpractice errors or negligence typically occur in the diagnosis or treatment of a patient, and may include, but are not limited to: >Failure to treat >Wrong treatment >Delay in diagnosis >Failure to diagnose >Failure to rule out causes or conditions >Misdiagnosis >Failure to test >Failure to obtain informed consent >Surgical injury >Wrong prescription of drugs >Patient abandonment >Use of defective medical products
A Patient’s Right to Recover Compensation
A patient’s right to recover compensation for medical malpractice is generally governed by common law as well as statutes and regulations which have been promulgated to protect patients who have been subjected to medical malpractice or medical negligence. Medical malpractice suits are usually complex, time-consuming, expensive to litigate, dependent upon expert testimony, and vigorously defended by health care providers and their insurers.
Elements of a Medical Malpractice or Medical Negligence Claim
The medical malpractice personal injury victim is commonly referenced as a “plaintiff” and the person or entity that caused the harm is commonly referenced as a “defendant.” The South Carolina Supreme Court has set forth the elements of negligence with regard to a medical malpractice personal injury claim that a plaintiff has to prove as follows: >A physician-patient relationship exists. >The generally recognized and accepted practices and procedures that would be followed by average, competent practitioners in the defendants' field of medicine under the same or similar circumstances. >That the defendant departed from the recognized and generally accepted standards. >The defendant’s departure from such generally recognized practices and procedures was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s alleged injuries and damages. © Joseph P. Griffith, Jr. 2010