Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Lawyers

You put your trust in your doctor, but you suspect that the medical treatment you or a loved one received was substandard and caused preventable harm. If anything, your medical condition is worse, not better, and you have not received satisfactory answers to your questions about what went wrong.

You may be a victim of medical negligence. If so, you will need help from an experienced Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyer to get the answers you deserve.

Medical Malpractice Resources

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What is Medical Malpractice?

A good definition of medical malpractice is negligence by health care providers in which treatment is substandard and causes the patient harm, injury or death. In most cases involves a medical error that was either a negligent act or failure to act.

Negligence occurs at every stage in the treatment process and may involve many types of health care providers, including doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, pharmacists, lab technicians, physical therapists or dentists.

Medical errors in the U.S. is a leading cause of preventable injuries and death. According to the Diederich Healthcare 2015 Medical Malpractice Payout Analysis, insurance companies paid out $3,891,743,050 for medical malpractice claims in the U.S. in 2014.

Insurers paid out about 30 percent of those funds for medical errors resulting in death. Significant permanent injuries accounted for 18 percent of the payouts, major permanent injuries accounted for 17 percent, while brain damage, quadriplegia, and lifelong-care injuries accounted for 13 percent.

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Do You Have A Case? Find Out Today. Call us today at 317-272-0008 for a free case evaluation.

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Nine Common Types of Medical Errors

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There is a wide range of mistakes by doctors, nurses and medical staff that can cause treatment to go awry. However, by learning more about some of the most common types of medical errors, we hope you can get a better understanding of what may have occurred in your own situation. Getting a thorough and objective review of your case by an experienced medical malpractice medical malpractice lawyer is a critical first step in seeking justice you deserve.

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Emergency Room Errors

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Emergency rooms can be rushed, hectic environments. Due to these conditions, doctors, nurses and staff may make mistakes in testing, diagnosing and treating patients. In some instances, important information may not be communicated when a patient is “handed off” to another medical professional in the ER. Hospitals should have systems in place to prevent these errors.

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Missed or Delayed Diagnosis

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A misdiagnosis of one’s symptoms can lead to unnecessary treatment or the failure to get timely treatment. It can occur when a doctor fails to thoroughly examine and communicate with a patient or fails to conduct proper tests. In some cases, the missed or delayed diagnosis may be traced to the doctor’s lack of knowledge and experience. The damage may be irreversible in some cases, especially in cases involving cancer or heart attacks.

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Misread X-rays, Slides & Ultrasounds

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When an X-ray, slide or ultrasound is misread by a physician, it can be deemed either a “false positive” (diagnosing the patient with a condition that does not exist) or a “false negative” (failing to detect the patient’s actual condition). In either case, the misreading can lead to ineffective or missed treatment, which places the patient’s health in serious jeopardy.

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Medication Errors

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A patient may suffer serious or fatal illness due to being prescribed the wrong type or dose of medication. One leading cause of medication errors is miscommunication, such as a pharmacist misreading the abbreviations, symbols and dose expressions on a prescription sheet due to the doctor’s illegible or confusing handwriting.

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Anesthesia Errors

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Complications may occur because a patient wasn’t properly evaluated before or monitored during the administration of anesthesia. For instance, a patient may be allergic to certain types of anesthesia and suffer an adverse reaction. Doctors and nurses may fail to respond promptly to the patient’s distress because they were not carefully checking the patient’s vital signs.

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Surgical Errors

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Unfortunately, many careless mistakes can be made during surgery. These errors include operating on the wrong site, puncturing an organ or leaving behind a foreign object such as a sponge or surgical instrument. Surgeon distraction, fatigue, inexperience and miscommunication are among leading causes for grave mistakes that can occur during surgery.

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Childbirth Errors

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Birth injuries often occur because doctors, nurses or midwives missed signs and symptoms before the mother went into labor or failed to respond promptly to signs of trouble during the delivery or C-section. The mother may suffer injuries as well as the child. In many instances, the child’s injury may cause a lifelong disability such as cerebral palsy.

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Falls

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The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that as many as one million people fall in U.S. hospitals each year. The reasons can range from slippery floors to poor supervision of patients who face a high risk of falls, especially the elderly. A fall can result in serious injuries, including hip fractures and brain injuries.

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Failure to Monitor

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Even though doctors, nurses and staff have around-the-clock access to patients in the hospital, they may fail to routinely check on them and detect bleeding, infections or changes in vital signs that require immediate attention. In some cases, patients may suffer from Stage 4 bedsores (pressure ulcers) due to improper monitoring of their condition.

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Our Lawyers Help Medical Error Victims

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If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a preventable medical error, Baker & Gilchrist can thoroughly review your case and help you to determine your legal rights and options. Our attorneys, Rex Baker and Caroline Gilchrist, have more than 55 years of combined litigation experience and work closely with board-certified specialists and health care professionals to serve clients throughout Indianapolis and surrounding areas in Indiana.

  • We Know Indiana Malpractice Law

    Let the Indianapolis malpractice attorneys at Baker & Gilchrist have independent medical experts review your medical records. We’ll help you determine whether preventable medical negligence was the cause of your pain and suffering.

     

    The attorneys at Baker & Gilchrist help families whose loved ones have been seriously injured by preventable medical errors in Indiana. Each set of facts is different. We work with medical professionals to evaluate your medical records to determine whether a preventable error occurred and a malpractice legal claim is appropriate. Learn more about how to hire a malpractice attorney.

     

    With over 60 years of combined litigation experience, Rex Baker and Caroline A. Gilchrist have the legal skill and commitment to hold accountable health care providers who harm patients. We provide detailed answers to a series of questions in our videos. Learn more about how we can help you.

  • Common Types of Medical Negligence

    At Baker & Gilchrist, we see many types of medical malpractice. Common preventable medical errors involve:

     

    Birth injuries

    MedMal-Page_icon-05-150x150A recent study published in the American Journal of Gynecology determined that birth injuries caused by trauma occur in an estimated 26 out of every 1,000 deliveries. Larger infants are more difficult to deliver and more susceptible to birth injuries caused by the use of excessive force from obstetrical tools such as forceps or vacuum devices. Complications that are missed or untreated during pregnancy can often lead to birth injury.

     

    Brain injuries

    MedMal-Page_icon-06According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traumatic brain injury contributes to 30 percent of all injury-related fatalities in the U.S. Approximately 2.5 million people sustained traumatic brain injury in a recent year, per CDC. A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is any bump or blow to the head or penetrating head injury that disrupts brain function. A brain injury can result from hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen, due to a medical provider’s over-medication. Traumatic brain injuries range from brief changes in mental status to severely compromised function to extended periods of unconsciousness or amnesia.

     

    Anesthesia complications

    MedMal-Page_icon-07Many anesthesia complications occur when a patient is not properly evaluated before a procedure or carefully monitored during and after a procedure. Patients should never die or suffer serious injury during surgery or immediately after because of adverse reactions to anesthesia. Anesthesia errors also include dosage errors, failure to intubate, delayed anesthesia delivery due to equipment problems, and negligent or improper administration of oxygen.

     

    Delayed diagnosis

    MedMal-Page_icon-08Doctors have a duty to reach a list of possible diagnoses that describe a patient’s symptoms, then to focus on ruling out the diagnoses that pose the greatest risk. A doctor who fails to follow these basic steps can miss a diagnosis, with serious consequences for the patient. Some of the more common medical errors we see involve failure to diagnose a heart attack. Timely diagnosis and treatment can mean the difference between life and death for patients with certain serious medical conditions.

     

    Cancer misdiagnosis

    MedMal-Page_icon-09According to a study published by the National Coalition of Health, cancer misdiagnosis occurs between 15 percent and 28 percent of the time. The study concludes that the causes of these many diagnostic medical errors include doctors who are strapped for time, medical records that are fragmented, pathology interpretation errors, missing important pieces of family medical history, and inflexible adherence to protocol on the part of medical professionals.

     

    Hospital Malpractice

    Hospital-Malpractice-e1444989986412Hospitals are the most common institution named in medical malpractice suits likely due to the volume of patients they handle and the severity of the ailments these patients have.

     

     

    Never Events

    Never-Events-e1444990034554Never events should never happen, right? This is unfortunately not the case. Never events include surgical errors such as operating on the wrong patient, performing surgery on the wrong body part, or performing the wrong operation. These mistakes can cause patients to undergo additional surgeries and prolonged time in recovery, leading to severe economical and emotional strain.

     

    Emergency Room Errors

    Emergency-Room-Errors-e1444989974767Emergency Rooms handle a large number of patients with a small amount of time per patient. The biggest malpractice problems that we see in these settings are related to delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis. These issues arise due to lack of knowledge about the patient’s history, failure to order the proper tests, the high volume of patients, and the high stress environment that is present in Emergency Rooms.

  • Why Do Errors Occur in Healthcare?

    Many factors contribute to the incidence of medical errors. Some common causes of medical errors include:

     

    Inexperienced physicians

    MedMal-Page_icon-12Too often, a doctor’s inexperience or lack of training in a particular area can lead to serious harm for the patient, particularly in emergency room environments. This situation can occur when doctors fill in for each other and with “locum tenens” work, in which physicians work temporarily in hospitals or practices that are not the location in which they normally practice. Medical errors can also occur when patients are handed off at the end of a shift or transferred to a different area, and when physicians have minimal training and are not yet familiar with new medical innovations.

     

    Doctor fatigue

    MedMal-Page_icon-13Sleep deprivation, particularly among interns, has been a cause of medical errors and a source of concern. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study involving interns who were subjected to 24-hour or more work shifts as part of their post-graduate training, as compared for those who were limited to 16-hour work shifts. Researchers concluded that limited work shifts and increased sleep decreased the interns’ failures in attention while treating patients.

     

    Nurses

    MedMal-Page_icon-14Medication errors are a common medical error made by nursing staff. In a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers found that nursing medication errors consisted of: Administering medication at the wrong infusion rate (32.03%); giving the wrong dosage of medication (28.11%), giving medication at unscheduled times (14.37%); giving medication two doses at a time (11.11%); drug elimination (8.49%); and giving a patient’s drug to another patient (5.88%).

     

    Electronic health records

    MedMal-Page_icon-11Problems with electronic health records (EHR) can result in major medical errors. For example, CNS News reports on a case in which a hospital in Texas admitted, evaluated, and released a patient suffering from Ebola, a typically fatal, contagious, viral disease. The hospital claimed that the error resulted from a flaw in its EHR.

     

    Low Resources

    Low-Resources-e1444989998212Many times, medical facilities located in rural areas suffer from a lack of funding and resources. The greatest shortcoming often is a lack of qualified professionals. Many times these facilities located in rural areas are staffed by Nurse Practitioners and their ER departments with “locum tenens” doctors.

     

    Communication Errors

    Communication-Errors-e1444989962812Communication errors cause many errors in healthcare settings. This lack of communication can happen between nurses and doctors, errors in Electronic Health Records, and also between patients and staff. It is easy for information to be misinterpreted, misspoken, or even for the communication to not exist at all. The best way for you to combat these errors is by being aware of your health history and giving your doctor all of the information that you can on your condition. Check out our list of questions to ask your doctor before and after surgery for more information.

  • Reducing Your Risk for Medical Errors

    Medical errors and malpractice can occur at any point in the healthcare system, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The Agency offers a number of suggestions to help patients remain safe in the system, including these tips:

     

    MedMal-Page_checkbox2Ensure that all of your doctors know about all of your medications.

     

     

    MedMal-Page_checkboxBring all your medications and your supplements to your doctor visits.

     

     

    MedMal-Page_checkboxInform your doctors of any allergies or reactions to medication.

     

     

    MedMal-Page_checkboxAsk your doctor for information about your medications in terms you can understand.

     

     

    MedMal-Page_checkboxAsk for written information on the side effects of medications you are prescribed.

     

     

    MedMal-Page_checkboxIf you are having surgery, make sure that you and your doctor agree on what will be done.

     

     

    MedMal-Page_checkboxIf you have concerns, speak up.

     

     

    MedMal-Page_checkboxEnsure that your care is being coordinated by someone such as your primary care doctor.

     

     

    MedMal-Page_checkboxLearn all you can about your condition and treatment by asking doctors and nurses.

     

  • Filing a Malpractice Lawsuit in Indianapolis

    When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you are holding negligent medical professionals accountable and possibly preventing similar injuries to others in the future. Indiana has a system of accountability for injuries incurred due to the negligence of hospital staff. It begins with a medical review panel which gives an opinion as to whether the health care provider failed to follow the applicable standard of care. Learn more about How to File a Lawsuit in Indiana and How Long A Medical Malpractice Claim Takes.

     

    At Baker & Gilchrist, our Indianapolis medical malpractice attorneys have over 60 years of combined litigation experience. We are happy to help you hold negligent health care providers accountable. We can present your claim for review by the panel and aggressively pursue the compensation you deserve in negotiations or a civil lawsuit.

  • Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund

    There are no caps on the damages patients can recover in malpractice claims in Indiana. However, a cap of $250,000exists on the healthcare provider’s contribution. If your claim exceeds that amount, you may potentially recover up to $1 million more from the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund. The Indiana Patient’s Compensation fund paid out $138 Million dollars in judgements in 2014 alone. This fund has been in existence as a part of the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act since 1975. Its purpose is two-fold:

     

    • To help keep doctors’ insurances costs down; and
    • To help ensure that injured patients get the compensation they deserve.
  • Indiana Statute of Limitations

    A statute of limitations is a time limit imposed by law for filing a lawsuit. In Indiana, the statute of limitations for medical injury claims is two years from the date the health care provider committed an act of negligence that led to the injury of the patient. However, minors ages six and under at the time of the incident, have until their eighth birthday to file a claim. There are also certain situations where the time frame may change such as if the malpractice was not discovered until a later date. More information can be found on our Indiana specific, Statute of Limitations page.

  • Do I Have a Case?

    If you have been harmed by a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional, your best course of action is to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Contact our accident and injury attorneys at Baker & Gilchrist. We offer a free case consultation, and we can advise you about whether you have a case and the damages you may be entitled to claim.

    Rex-BakerCaroline-Gilchrist
    Rex BakerCaroline Gilchrist