Fort Smith Medical Malpractice Attorneys
After trusting your care to your doctor, you had every right to expect that your doctor would take reasonable measures to act in your best interest. When your doctor failed to provide you with the care you needed, however, that trust was broken. More than that, your doctor’s malpractice has likely impacted your health and well-being rather significantly.
At McCutchen & Sexton – The Law Firm, our Fort Smith medical malpractice attorneys understand just how devastating the effects of medical malpractice can be, and we will do everything we possibly can to help you pursue legal action against the responsible party.
Medical Malpractice Claims in Fort Smith
Our Fort Smith legal team possesses the experience and resources that you will need to pursue any medical malpractice claim in Fort Smith, including those involving:
- Birth Injuries
- Wrong Diagnosis
- Delayed Treatment
- Improper Treatment
- Lack of Informed Consent
- Surgical Errors
- Emergency Room Errors
- Pharmaceutical Errors
- Wrongful Death
- Hospital Negligence
Medical malpractice is defined as the failure to apply the degree of skill and learning ordinarily possessed and used by members of the same profession. This may include errors on behalf of the following types of medical providers:
- Medical Technicians
- Health Care Providers
- Nursing Homes
It is not the duty of the medical provider to cure or guarantee a positive outcome for the treatment, but rather to provide a standard of care that is accepted by the medical community. As such, a central aspect of establishing a medical malpractice claim will involve whether or not the provider caused damage by violating or breaching the standard of care.
Statistically, only a few bad doctors cause a majority of the medical injuries that occur. It is those negligent doctors and supporting staff that contribute to skyrocketing medical costs.
Our Fort Smith legal team believes that the physicians with bad records should be sanctioned by the State Medical Boards and, if necessary, have their license revoked. Additionally, we believe that patients should have access to physicians’ malpractice history in order to make informed choices.
Preventability of Medical Malpractice in Fort Smith
As you and your family struggle with the effects of your doctor’s malpractice, the preventability of your situation will probably become all too clear. In many cases, factors contributing to malpractice include: overbooked surgery facilities, overloaded schedules, and fatigue of doctors or other medical providers.
It is often hard to get the straight answers about exactly what happened. In some cases, medical malpractice may result from a lack of cooperation between the hospital, hospital staff members, and physicians. As such, the facts may become clouded and vague—or, at least, they may not match your memory of the events.
Patients’ Rights Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA)
In 1986, Congress enacted the EMTALA—codified at 42 USC §1395dd—in an effort to better protect the rights of medical patients. EMTALA applies to any hospital that participates in the Medicare program and has an emergency room.
Under EMTALA, hospitals are required to provide appropriate medical screening, within the capabilities of the hospital, in order to determine whether an emergency medical condition exists. The request for examination may be made by the patient or by someone who is acting on their behalf.
According to the language used in the EMTALA, an “emergency medical condition” is understood to be any medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity, including severe pain, such as the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in any of the following situations:
- The health of the individual (or a pregnant female and her unborn child) will be put in serious jeopardy
- Bodily functions will become seriously impaired
- Any bodily organ or body part will become dysfunctional
Or, with respect to a pregnant woman who is having contractions:
- There is inadequate time to safely transfer her to another hospital before delivery
- The transfer may threaten the health or safety of either the woman or the unborn child
If a patient is determined to be suffering from an emergency medical condition, EMTALA also requires that the hospital provide—within the staff and facilities available—further medical examination and treatment as required to stabilize the medical condition. Alternatively, the hospital must transfer the patient to another facility.
However, hospitals are not permitted to simply transfer a patient to another hospital. If the patient has not been stabilized, the patient—or someone acting on their behalf—must be informed of the transfer risks and must sign a certificate that attests to his or her knowledge that the benefits of transferring to another hospital outweigh the risks.
Once this certificate is signed, the transferring hospital must provide medical treatment to reduce any risks to the patient. The receiving hospital must have the space and qualified personnel available for treatment. Moreover, the receiving hospital must agree to the transfer and the required medical procedures. EMTALA requires any transfer be by qualified personnel using transportation equipment, including any life support systems if the situation calls for them.
EMTALA prohibits the referral of a patient to another facility and the requirement of advance payment in any situation that would result in a person’s inability to receive the examination and treatment for his or her emergency.
Protecting the Rights of Malpractice Victims in Fort Smith
Our Fort Smith attorneys are committed to upholding the rights of victims of medical malpractice as they seek compensation for the suffering they have been made to endure. In support of our firm’s commitment to fight any legislation that attempts to reduce the rights of patients injured through medical malpractice, we have collected the following statistical data to further demonstrate the necessity of safety measures for medical practitioners.
A 2004-2006 study revealed 238,337 preventable hospital deaths in Medicare patients resulting from patient safety errors. This cost Medicare $8.8 billion dollars http://www.healthgrades.com
An article published in the Journal of American Medical Association reveals more than 225,000 people die each year due to medical errors. Approximately 80,000 of these are related to infections in hospitals and more than 100,000 are due to medication errors or reactions http://jama.jamanetwork.com/journal.aspx
A report from the Institutes of Medicine show annual deaths resulting from a physician’s activity, manner, or therapy range between 230,000 to 284,000 http://www.mercola.com
A report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, shows as many as 98,000 patients die each year due to medical errors. http://www.iom.edu
In 2000, the World Health Organization considered 16 available health indicators, the United States ranked second from the bottom with an average of 12. http://www.who.int/whr/en/
Despite the requirement that hospitals must report instances of peer reviewed disciplinary action concerning physicians at the hospital to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), in 2006 it was shown more than half of the Arkansas hospitals with active NPDB registration had never made a single report. http://www.npdb-hipdb.hrsa.gov/index.jsp
Chances are that five Americans will die every hour from preventable medical errors. There is less than a 50% chance that a medical malpractice payment will be made due to the error. (2009, Public Citizen Report) http://www.npdb-hipdb.hrsa.gov/index.jsp
There are between 380,000 and 450,000 preventable adverse drug events which occur in the United States hospitals annually. These numbers are believed to be underestimates. http://www.npdb-hipdb.hrsa.gov/index.jsp
Consult with a Medical Malpractice Attorney in Fort Smith
If your doctor failed to act in your best interests, you should speak with a Fort Smith medical malpractice attorney at McCutchen & Sexton – The Law Firm about the legal action that may be available to you. To discuss the particulars of your case with one of our Fort Smith attorneys, please call our Fort Smith offices at (479) 783-0036 or take a moment to fill our one of our online contact forms.
Medical Malpractice FAQs
How do I know if I’ve been the victim of medical malpractice?
If your healthcare provider has acted in any way that does not meet the expected standards of someone in their position, and your well being has suffered as a result, then you may be the victim of medical malpractice. In order to prove that medical malpractice has occurred, three things must be true. The first is that a doctor-patient relationship existed between you and the medical professional. Next, you must be able to prove that the doctor did, in fact, act negligently. Lastly, you need to be able to prove that this negligence caused you harm, like a physical injury, mental anguish, or lost earning capacity. Some examples of medical malpractice include delayed treatment, misdiagnosis, surgical mistakes, medication errors, and more. If you believe you have been the victim of medical malpractice, be sure to contact an experienced attorney right away.
Can you file a medical malpractice lawsuit against someone other than a doctor?
Yes, you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit against any type of health care professional. If any medical professional has jeopardized your health care through negligent or reckless actions, you may be in the position to pursue a medical malpractice case. You may be able to file a lawsuit against doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, or a hospital in general. Some other professionals that are less commonly sued for malpractice include pharmacists, dentists, and physical therapists. Pharmaceutical companies may also be found liable for malpractice if they fail to warn doctors of potential health risks related to certain drugs, and patients end up suffering as a result.
What damages are recoverable in a medical malpractice case?
Recoverable damages for medical malpractice will typically, at a minimum, include compensation for the medical procedure in which the malpractice occurred, as well as any future follow-up doctor visits or medical procedures. You may also be in the position to recover damages for lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, pain, and suffering. If your doctor acted in an intentionally harmful manner, you may be able to recover punitive damages. If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, an attorney will be able to help you determine which damages you should pursue.