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Virginia Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical malpractice is generally defined as any action, or a failure to act, by a medical professional that falls below the standard of care required of the profession and results in injury to the victim as a result of that substandard care or negligent action. There are a number of different incidents that can qualify as medical malpractice, from misdiagnosis to infliction of injury during a medical procedure. There are obvious risks that can be expected with any medical procedure and physicians do make errors in judgment despite their best efforts. That does not, however, absolve medical staff and institutions from upholding basic standards of care required of and adhered to by others in their field. If you have suffered a serious injury as a result of medical malpractice in Virginia, you should consult with a qualified personal injury attorney to discuss whether you have a viable claim. For a general overview of the topic of medical malpractice please refer to the following information.

What Makes a Medical Malpractice Case?

Specifically, the Virginia Code Section 8.01-581.1 defines medical malpractice as: “any tort action or breach of contract action for personal injuries or wrongful death, based on health care or professional services rendered, or which should have been rendered, by a health care provider, to a patient.”

Examples of medical malpractice include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Hospital-related infections, such as MRSA;
  • Medication or drug errors, such as overdose, improper use of a certain drug, dangerous combinations of specific drugs, or drug allergies that are not recognized;
  • Abuse in a nursing home facility such as errors in medications, improper types of treatment of residents, and failure to treat new conditions;
  • Surgical errors such as wrong site surgery, wrong patient surgery, leaving foreign objects in a patient’s body, and surgical complications.
  • Cases of ‘failure to diagnose’ serious illnesses and medical complications, such as cancer, strokes, heart attack, and infectious and drug-resistant diseases.

What must be proven in a medical malpractice claim?

The burden of proof in a Virginia medical malpractice claim falls upon the plaintiff, or injured party. A plaintiff can prove their claim by providing a variety of evidence, from medical records and proof of the extent of the resulting injuries or illness, to expert testimony by medical staffers who can state with authority whether the victim’s doctor, nurse, or other medical provider failed to provide the basic standard of care.  The evidence provided by the victim/plaintiff must demonstrate the following four points:

  • Some type of duty was actually owed to the victim;
  • The duty was breached by a doctor, nurse, or another medical professional, or a medical institution or facility, resulting in a substandard care;
  • That breach caused injury or illness;
  • The victim suffered from some form of financial loss, emotional loss, and/or pain due to the injury that occurred.

Among the four points, the first is generally the most easily proven as establishing a relationship between a medical provider and patient is typically very easy to confirm. The more difficult portion of a claim will focus on whether the breach of duty resulted in substandard care, or that breach meant the care given, or the failure to provide care, did not meet the accepted standard of care for other medical professionals and institutions in the same field. Proving injury or illness and harms and losses suffered as result of the substandard care is not difficult, though it does require a legal professional who is adept at sorting through medical records, including bills, and other related expenses and documents.

Virginia Medical Malpractice Compensation

When it comes to cases of medical malpractice, victims may be eligible to receive compensation for a number of issues which include:

  • Any medical expenses related to immediate and future needs;
  • Loss of income from time missed at work;
  • Diminished earning capacity if they cannot continue in their chosen field;
  • Permanent disfigurement or disability;
  •  Funeral expenses in cases of wrongful death;

Virginia’s Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations regarding medical malpractice claims in the state of Virginia typically requires victims to file their claim within two years of the incident. There are, however, certain circumstances that may extend that period of time. Some of these circumstances include:

  • The resulting harm — injury or illness — is not immediately detectable;
  • A disability that results from the medical malpractice;
  • If the victim/patient was a child;
  • Certain cases of misdiagnosis;
  • Mistakes that involve retained objects.

For more information on the statute of limitations regarding medical malpractice in the Commonwealth, see Virginia Code Section 8.01-243.

What Can a Virginia Medical Malpractice Lawyer Do?

Those who have suffered injury as a result of medical malpractice suffer greatly. The resulting injury or illness can complicate existing medical conditions or eclipse the original problem that caused the patient to seek care in the first place. Such breaches of care can also take a heavy toll on a patient’s emotional state, as patients place a great deal of trust in their doctors and other medical providers. Pursuing a medical malpractice claim for these types of violations is important for two main reasons. The first reason is perhaps the most obvious, and involves the need for assistance with the harms and losses that a patient has suffered as a result of the breach in duty of care. The second reason may not be as obvious, but it is just as important. Medical malpractice claims are often the only factor that forces medical professionals and institutions to address dangerous and negligent practices. The medical profession is like many other businesses in that it is constantly looking to trim and eliminate costs. Too often, those cost-saving measures lead to incidents of malpractice. A malpractice claim places the individuals and/or institutions on notice that profits should never be valued above the lives of patients and that notice helps to make the medical profession more responsible, and push for higher standards of care, that benefit everyone in Virginia.