Medical malpractice is a serious form of negligence that takes place in many hospitals and health care centers throughout Arizona. Negligence means to use less than the legally required or reasonable amount of care when doing something, resulting in injury to others. If a doctor, surgeon or another health care practitioner negligently falls short of the accepted standards of care for the medical industry, patients can suffer serious injuries – including spinal cord injuries.
Medical Malpractice and the Spine
The spinal cord is one of the most complex parts of the body. It contains thousands of nerve fibers, soft tissues, bones (vertebrae) and disks. Together, these components create a pathway that carries messages from the brain to the body. Any type of injury to the spinal cord can disrupt this messaging system, either temporarily or permanently.
There are many ways in which a physician, surgeon or another health care professional may cause injury to a patient’s back, neck or spinal cord during treatment. Any lapse in the proper amount of patient care before, during or after treatment could cause a serious spinal cord injury with lasting effects.
Examples of Medical Malpractice That Can Injure the Spine
Any type of mistake, negligence or lapse in judgment can lead to health complications that injure the spine. Common examples of medical malpractice associated with spine injuries are:
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a tumor on or near the spine
- Failure to treat an infection
- Lack of informed consent for a procedure
- Delaying a surgical procedure
- Improperly performing a surgery
- Making anesthesia mistakes during surgery
- Cutting or tearing nerve fibers during surgery
- Incorrectly performing an epidural or spinal block
- Poor postoperative care
- Failing to treat post-surgical complications
Common injuries related to medical malpractice include spinal cord nerve damage, bruising (contusions), lacerations and infections. A spinal cord injury can cause mild to severe symptoms for a patient, from numbness and tingling to irreversible paralysis.
In Arizona, a patient who has been injured by medical malpractice has the right to file a civil lawsuit against one or more defendants for causing or contributing to the injuries in question. A medical malpractice claim seeks to make the filing party, or plaintiff, whole again by reimbursing him or her for related losses. These losses may include physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, medical bills, permanent disability, and lost wages.
To receive financial compensation for a spinal cord injury connected to medical malpractice, the plaintiff (or his or her personal injury attorney) must establish negligence. Negligence in medical malpractice law consists of four key elements:
- A duty of care between the defendant and plaintiff existed due to the doctor-patient relationship.
- The defendant breached the duty of care by falling below the required medical standards.
- A causal link existed between the defendant’s breach of duty and the plaintiff’s spinal cord injury.
- Damages were suffered by the plaintiff as a result.
The plaintiff’s side of the case must prove these elements based on a preponderance of the evidence or clear and convincing evidence that demonstrates that the health care provider is more likely than not responsible for the spinal cord injury. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can gather evidence to support a plaintiff’s claim, such as medical expert testimony, hospital records, photographs and eyewitness statements.
What to Do if You Are a Victim of Medical Malpractice
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a spinal cord injury that you believe is connected to medical malpractice, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney in Glendale to discuss your legal options. You may have grounds for a lawsuit against one or more parties. An attorney can make sure that you and your family have everything you need during this difficult time, as well as negotiate for a positive case outcome on your behalf.