Medical Malpractice, or Just a Bad Result?
IS IT MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, OR JUST A BAD RESULT?
How Tennessee Medical Malpractice Law Limits Informed Patient Consent, and Determines Professional Standards for Area Doctors
No one visits a doctor or a hospital hoping to feel worse when they leave. Whether suffering from an injury or illness, people seeking health care are necessarily expected to place a significant amount of trust, and to assume a certain possibility of risk, as a prerequisite to having their problem treated. Indeed, patients are typically warned in writing of all of the potential risks and side effects—the possible “bad results”—of the treatment they seek.
Of course, when a patient who suffers a bad result from a particular course of medical treatment without having been fully informed of the possible risks, or when a health care provider fails to properly obtain the patient’s knowing consent for the treatment, it is then much easier for a patient recover compensation for “bad results” from medical treatment. But having signed these consent forms, many Tennessee patients are under the impression that this paperwork effectively insulates their health care provider, regardless of any errors they might make during a procedure. While it is true that these consent forms do protect doctors, nurses, and hospitals from significant liability resulting from many treatment outcomes, they provide no liability protection for patient injuries resulting from their negligence.
In Tennessee, negligence occurs when a health care provider fails to observe a standard of care reasonably expected under similar circumstances by other health care professionals here in the state. Such claims often include:
- Misdiagnosis of a condition or complication.
- Failure to provide timely treatment
- Mistakes involving medication, such as prescribing or administering the wrong medication, or the wrong amount.
- Mistakes in surgery, such as operations performed on the wrong breast or knee, or surgical tools left inside patients.
- Incorrectly administered anesthesia
- Injuries during labor and childbirth.
- Wrongful death
It is also important that the injury being claimed by the patient is shown to have been proximately caused by a doctor’s negligence, meaning that “but for” the negligent act by a doctor, the patient would not have suffered the injury. Defendants in malpractice cases often argue that the injury at issue was actually caused by something other than their alleged negligence, such as a pre-existing condition within the patient. However, in Tennessee, proximate causation is established when it is shown that the injury suffered was “reasonably foreseeable” at the time the negligence occurred. If a heart attack is the reasonably foreseeable result of a patient being prescribed the incorrect medication for their heart condition, a Tennessee medical malpractice lawyer can argue that the incorrect medication proximately caused the heart attack despite the existing heart condition, as a reasonable doctor should have been aware of both the correct medication to prescribe as well as the risk of heart attack.
Upon the successful showing of all of these elements—an injury sustained as the result of negligent medical care—a Tennessee patient is entitled to compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses, both past and future
- Economic damages resulting from the injury, including both lost income and loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering, both past and future
Unfortunately, pursuing a medical malpractice claim tends to be expensive, due largely to the expense of retaining qualified experts necessary to establish the standard of care relevant to each case, so although many types of injuries can occur as the result of such medical negligence, serious injuries which have caused considerable economic damages to the injured are often the only types of medical malpractice claims which are ultimately pursued.
Given the often highly technical medical issues involved, as well as the complexities of Tennessee law, it is important to consult with an experienced Tennessee medical malpractice attorney to determine whether they indeed have a valid medical malpractice case, or whether they are the unfortunate victim of a bad result.
For more than forty years, the law firm of Kidwell, South, Beasley and Haley has been dedicated to helping injured Murfreesboro and surrounding area residents receive the compensation owed due to negligent medical care, and we can help you today. As the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in Tennessee is limited to only one year, we urge you to contact us today for a free consultation at 615-893-1331.