Millions of Americans place a great deal of trust in their health providers. Because they are nurses, doctors, anesthesiologists, and surgeons who spent years in school studying medicine, surely they must know what they’re doing, right?
While the lion’s share of medical professionals are deeply passionate about their work, there are those who demonstrate a measurable pattern of recklessness. Then, there are those who make honest mistakes. The problem is, in the healthcare setting a medical error can have deadly consequences for patients.
When a healthcare professional delivers a substandard level of care and the patient on the receiving end is injured or killed as a direct result, it is called “medical malpractice.” Some might think that medical errors are few and far between, but we assure you they are not.
There are dozens of ways that a patient can be injured as a result of their doctor’s poor level of care, whether in a private practice or a major hospital, but one place that medical errors happen frequently is in the hospital. Hospitals can be chaotic places, and not only are they busy, doctors can easily work 24 hour shifts, leading to unavoidable sleep deprivation.
In an October 28, 2015 article in the Washington Post, David Harari, a first-year resident in psychiatry at the University of Washington School of Medicine said, “It’s really hard to function for 30 hours in a row.” Harari said that just after a 30-hour shift where he was taking care of six patients on about 2 ½ hours’ sleep.
Sleep deprivation among doctors at hospitals plays a key role in medical mistakes, but it’s not the only cause of medical errors. Healthcare professionals are human, and like everybody else they are prone to making mistakes.
Examples of medical malpractice, include:
- Wrong diagnoses
- Delayed diagnoses
- Surgical errors
- Wrong site surgery
- Anesthesia errors (too little or too much, or wrong medication)
In order to have a valid medical malpractice claim, the following must be true: 1) there was a doctor-patient relationship, 2) the doctor’s negligence caused the patient’s injuries, and 3) the patient suffered damages because of the injuries. In other words, there were losses, such as additional medical expenses and time lost from work etc.
How serious is the problem? The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that medical negligence was the third leading cause of death in the United States. Forbes reported that in 2012, more than $3 billion went towards medical malpractice payouts, which is significant considering how medical negligence is underreported.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice
In New Jersey, there is a two year time limit or “statute of limitations” for filing a medical malpractice claim. Generally, injured parties must file a claim within two years of the accident, or in some cases, within two years of discovering that the harm was caused by a medical error.
However, New Jersey has a special rule for birth-related medical malpractice. These cases must be filed before the child’s 13th birthday.
In simpler terms, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date that the “cause of action” takes place. This does not occur until the injured party becomes reasonably aware that the injury exists.
Looking for a New Jersey medical malpractice attorney? Contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law for a free case evaluation!