MEDICAL MALPRACTICE INVESTIGATION

When folks call our office about a potential medical malpractice case, I usually say one of the few things:

1. I would not recommend filing suit because ….
or
2. I would recommend undergoing further investigation to see if there is a lawsuit…..

I never say, “You have a lawsuit.” Why? Because no matter what someone tells me, we cannot base our evaluation of a case on what has been said. We can only base our evaluation of the case on an actual investigation.

So what does it entail to investigate whether someone has a medical malpractice lawsuit?

1. Request and review the records.
2. Request and evaluate the associated medical damages that occurred as a result.
3. Meet with and evaluate the client.

Which of the following do you think would be a successful Medical Malpractice case in Virginia, if an investigation reveals the following? (QUIZ TIME – I love quizzes)

1. Doctor during surgery tells the nurse that the patient is a fat cow. Nurse tells the patient after surgery. Patient spends 1 extra day in the hospital because of anxiety.

2. Doctor cuts bladder during surgery. Realizes mistake and repairs during surgery. Tells patient when she wakes up about the mistake. Patient requires 1 extra surgery.

3. Patient gets MRSA at hospital and misses 1 month of work.

4. None of the above.

Medical malpractice cases are very complicated in Virginia. During any investigation we are looking for the following:

1. WAS THERE NEGLIGENCE (did he or she fail to provide care required by the standard of care?)
2. DID THE NEGLIGENCE CAUSE PHYSICAL HARM?
3. IS THE HARM SUBSTANTIAL? LONG TERM?

If any of those 3 factors does not exist in a case, we can’t ethically file it and so we turn down many cases like the three listed above. Why?

1. Doctor during surgery tells the nurse that the patient is a fat cow. Nurse tells the patient after surgery. Patient spends 1 extra day in the hospital because of anxiety.

JERK. Yes. But not Medical Negligence so cannot file a claim. Cannot file a lawsuit because someone is rude.

2. Doctor cuts bladder during surgery. Realizes mistake and repairs during surgery. Tells patient when she wakes up about the mistake. Patient requires 1 extra surgery.

Damages are thankfully limited and negligence was corrected. May not be a case because damages are low.

3. Patient gets MRSA at hospital and misses 1 month of work.
Very hard to prove source of MRSA or that it was caused by negligence.

Anyway – enough preaching. If you have a need to speak with an experience Medical Malpractice attorney and have that person evaluate and investigate your case, call our office today. You will either speak to me, Dan or our paralegal Kim who can help right away.

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Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at dfrith@frithlawfirm.com.