What constitutes grounds for malpractice?

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What constitutes grounds for malpractice?

My mother fell and cut her head badly. At the emergency room, they did not irrigate the wound, clean the wound or even give her something to numb her when the doctor put 7 staples in her head. No pain killer, no X-ray or CT. The next day this was reported to Risk Management of the hospital. I then took her to another hospital and they did do a CT and found she did have a concussion. Does my mom have grounds for a lawsuit?

Asked on November 16, 2012 under Malpractice Law, Oregon

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your mom may well have grounds for a malpractice lawsuit.  However, such a claim would be worth pursuing only if your mom suffers serious and lasting, virtually permanent, injuries.

I practice in Florida, not Oregon.  However, the grounds for malpractice are similar in all states -- the health professional has a duty to act as a reasonably prudent practitioner would act under similar circumstances.  Proving that the professional breached this duty requires one or more expert witnesses.  After proving that the professional breached the duty, you then have to prove that the breach caused injury.  Then you have to prove what the injury is and what it will cost to treat the injury.

Many states have special laws and procedures for malpractice cases.  Florida has them, but I do not know what special laws Oregon may have.  The special laws make malpractice cases take longer and cost more than even a regular personal injury case.  Unless the injuries are very severe and the damages high, it is easy to spend more prosecuting the case than you can recover in the end.  Remember, the end settlement or judgment has to pay all the expenses of the case, pay the attorney's fees, and reimburse the insurance companies for what they paid.  Only after all this is paid, would your mother receive anything.

If your mother recovers well from this incident, I would advise you not to pursue a malpractice claim.  However, if she does not recover well, you should consult a malpractice lawyer in your area.


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