What is Medical Malpractice?
When you see a doctor or other healthcare professional for a medical issue, you expect nothing less than top quality care.
However, sometimes our medical professionals fail to provide their patients with the standard of care required, and it results in even more harm for their patients.
If this has happened to you, you may have a valid claim for medical malpractice in Wyoming. To speak with an experienced attorney about your legal options, call or contact Platte River Injury Law in Casper today.
What is Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, surgeon, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional fails to competently perform their medical duties and as a result causes harm to the patient. There are four basic elements to a medical malpractice claim.
First, the victim of medical malpractice must show that a doctor/patient relationship existed and therefore the victim was owed a duty of care.
Second, the doctor breached his duty of care through negligent or reckless acts.
Third, the victim must show that the breach in the duty of care caused the victim’s injuries, and finally that the injuries caused the victim actual damages such as additional medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering.
Wyoming Medical Malpractice Law
Under Wyoming law, the victim of medical malpractice has two years from the date of the injury to file a claim for damages. If the injury was not reasonably discoverable within two years, the claim must be filed within two years of the date that the injury was discovered.
One exception to the statute of limitations rule is for minors that suffer a medical malpractice injury prior to their eighth birthday. In this case, the parents have until the child’s eighth birthday or two years to file the claim, whichever is later. For minors older than eight years old, the two year limit still applies.
In order to proceed with a claim for medical malpractice in Wyoming, the case must first go under review by the Wyoming Medical Review Panel unless both parties agree to arbitration or agree to waive the process.
The patient submits their claim to the panel, which includes details of the malpractice, a release for their medical records, and a statement that a medical expert signs saying the belief of medical malpractice was probable.
The healthcare provider alleged to have committed the malpractice has sixty days to respond, and then the review panel releases a statement on whether they believe malpractice took place. The decision is not binding, but it must occur before filing a lawsuit in court.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can occur in a number of different ways at all stages of medical treatment and care by many different healthcare professionals. Some of the most common types of medical malpractice include the following claims:
This includes providing the patient with an incorrect diagnosis or failing to discover a medical issue. This can lead to complications with the original underlying issue as well as cause additional problems with the treatment given for the misdiagnosed medical problem.
The most commonly misdiagnosed ailments include heart attacks, infection, heart disease, blood clots, and tumors.
This is the type of medical malpractice that comes most to mind because it often involves the most shocking results. Surgical errors include
- leaving sponges and instruments inside the body,
- operating on the wrong body part,
- operating on the wrong person,
- performing an unnecessary operation,
- failing to move the body during surgery or placing too much pressure on one area,
- knowingly using defective equipment, and
- failing to control bleeding.
Providing too little or too much anesthesia during surgery is another common cause of medical malpractice. Too little and the patient may wake up during the procedure or feel a significant amount of pain, and too much anesthesia can cause fatal complications during surgery.
Pregnancy and Labor Injuries
In these cases, both the mother and the child can suffer harm at the hands of their doctor. This includes misdiagnosis of placental abnormalities, failure to diagnose or monitor gestational diabetes, failure to stop a long labor, surgical errors during a C-section, and nerve injuries during delivery.
Prescription Medication Errors
This can occur at various stages of treatment and be caused by the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist assigned to the patient’s treatment. Common examples include giving the incorrect medication, giving the incorrect dosage, failing to dispense the correct medication at the right time, and failing to notice a harmful drug interaction.
To learn more about medical malpractice claims and whether your experience rises to the level of malpractice, talk to an experienced Wyoming medical malpractice lawyer today.
Compensation for Medical Malpractice
Compensation for medical malpractice cases includes payment for economic and noneconomic damages. Economic expenses include payment for medical bills, lost wages, and lost future income and benefits.
Noneconomic benefits include compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, disability, and the loss of enjoyment of life. Wyoming does not place caps on medical malpractice compensation, which means that there is no limits on the amount of compensation a victim of medical malpractice can receive.
It is important to note that medical malpractice cases are subject to Wyoming’s modified comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, the court attributes a degree of fault to every party involved in the case, which allows the damages to be spread to multiple defendants with each paying for their percentage of fault.
As a modified comparative negligence state, healthcare professionals accused of medical malpractice are only responsible for payment of damages so long as the patient is found less than fifty percent at fault for the injuries incurred.
Wyoming Medical Malpractice Law and Hospitals
However, Wyoming law does allow for victims of medical malpractice to hold hospitals vicariously liable for claims against non-employed physicians at their hospitals.
If the hospital acts in a manner that suggests the doctor is providing services on behalf of the institution and the patient relies on those assertions, the hospital can also be liable for any claims of malpractice made against that medical professional.
Call or Contact Platte River Injury Law Today
If you have injuries from a doctor, surgeon, pharmacist, or other medical professional do not wait to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney about your case.
Call the office or contact us online at Platte River Injury Law to speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your case today.