Pennsylvania Nursing Home Medical Malpractice Attorney
We give enormous trust to doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other medical practitioners, quite literally placing our loved ones’ lives into their hands. We are willing to trust these healthcare professionals because we assume that they have years of training and experience, and are fully licensed and certified to provide quality medical care. Maintaining this high standard of care is especially important in nursing homes, where elderly residents are highly prone to injuries, illnesses, and infections.
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania nursing home residents do not always receive the quality of medical care that they should — and in many cases, the result is wound infection, surgical injury, exacerbated illness, or even wrongful death. If your elderly loved one was hurt or killed after receiving substandard care from a negligent or incompetent doctor, your family deserves to have your loss investigated by an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.
Attorney Brent Wieand, creator of The Nursing Home Injury Help Center website, is dedicated to personal and compassionate representation for the victims and survivors of medical malpractice in nursing homes across Pennsylvania. Brent is committed to fighting aggressively for maximum compensation, and will guide you through each and every step of the legal process as your case develops.
To set up a free and private consultation with Brent, call our law offices right away at (215) 666-7777.
When is it Medical Malpractice? Do I Have a Claim?
Malpractice is one of the most complex and challenging areas of personal injury law, which has created a profusion of myths, misconceptions, and misinformation. As a result, there tends to be some uncertainty about what sort of conduct legally constitutes doctor negligence. Let’s clear up the confusion by taking a closer look at the four components of a typical malpractice claim.
First, there must be some sort of formal, established relationship between plaintiff and defendant, often referred to as the “duty of care.”
Next, the defendant must have violated or “breached” their duty of care in a “material” or significant way. A bad outcome resulting from a competently performed procedure does not indicate medical misconduct, and therefore, does not result in liability for the healthcare professional. We’ll discuss some examples of violations of the standard of care in the next section.
Third, the breach of duty must have caused a harm. This means that the healthcare practitioner’s actions (or conversely, the failure to act where necessary) must be the reason the plaintiff suffered a loss. Whether the doctor’s breach of the standard of care is the “proximate” or legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries is often hotly contested, particularly when the plaintiff has other preexisting health problems, terminal illness, or is advanced in age.
Finally, the defendant’s breach of duty must have resulted in “damages” to the plaintiff. Damages may be physical, emotional, and/or financial in nature. Physical losses from malpractice often include pain and suffering, disfigurement and scarring. Emotional harm is typically mental anxiety that results from a response to a sudden, severe, or saddening experience. In severe cases, expert psychologists or psychiatrists may be retained to testify as to the extent of the emotional trauma.
Even if you aren’t sure whether or not you have a case, please don’t hesitate to call Brent to discuss your family’s situation in greater detail.
Common Examples of Doctor Negligence
Usually, evidence of a doctor’s negligence is proven through a medical expert in the same field of practice as the patient’s treating physician. Some typical examples of malpractice which might occur in a nursing home setting include:
- Allowing a resident to die by failing to implement CPR. As of October 8, 2013, all nursing homes must be CPR-certified and “no-CPR” policies have been banned across the United States.
- Failure to properly clean and sterilize medical equipment, leading to infection.
- Failure to diagnose a problem which any other doctor would have diagnosed, such as developing bed sores or cancer lesions. This frequently occurs with diabetes, leading to avoidable toe, leg, and foot amputations.
- Mixing up two or more residents’ medications or making other dosage errors.
- Failure to intervene during a life-threatening allergic reaction.
- Incorrectly diagnosing an issue, thereby allowing the real issue to get worse due to lack of treatment.
- Overmedicating by deliberately dispensing inappropriate dosages of sedatives to “troublesome” patients.
- Failing to check the patient’s medical history prior to prescribing a medication or recommending a surgery. Factors like obesity, diabetes, and smoking can make certain procedures and treatments incredibly dangerous for patients. This is especially true of nursing homes, because many residents take numerous medications for co-morbid illnesses.
In other instances, malpractice might involve issues like verbally and/or sexually abusing a patient, or working on a patient despite lacking proper certifications.
PA Time Limits on Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Lawsuits
As a potential plaintiff, you need to be aware that you only have a limited amount of time to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you wait for too long, unless there are exceptional circumstances you will lose your opportunity to file your claim and recover compensation. This is due to the “statute of limitations,” which is essentially a deadline for legal claims.
The statute of limitations varies by state, and by the type of incident involved in your claim. The Pennsylvania statute of limitations on malpractice claims is two years, beginning from the date the patient was injured or killed.
In some cases — particularly those involving surgical object retention, where a foreign object is left inside of a patient’s body after surgery — patients may not become aware of their injuries until a considerable amount of time has passed, and they begin to experience medical problems. In this scenario, the statute of limitations may potentially be extended by the “discovery rule,” which holds that the countdown begins with the patient’s awareness of their injury.
If your senior loved one was injured or killed by an incompetent healthcare professional, you deserve to fight for accountability and compensation. To start exploring your claim in a free and completely confidential legal consultation with a nursing home abuse attorney, call Brent today at (215) 666-7777.
Disclosure: Attorney Brent Wieand’s office is located in Philadelphia, PA. We happily serve clients throughout all of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.