What constitutes grounds for malpractice?

UPDATED: Nov 16, 2012

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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


Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 10 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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