The Georgia medical malpractice attorneys at Werner Wetherington have a very unique perspective. The firm’s founder, Michael Werner, holds a MMSc in anesthesiology from Emory School of Medicine. Michael’s experience as an anesthesiologist helps him in evaluating, litigating, and trying your case in front of a jury.

Healthcare providers have both a professional and legal obligation to perform their duties with competence and diligence. If a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional fails to perform his or her duty in accordance with the prevailing professional standard of care and you suffer an injury due to that negligence, you can be compensated for your injuries.

Simply stated, patients place their lives in the hands of doctors. Doctors must respect this trust and do everything in their capacity to ensure the well-being of their patient. In some instances, a medical provider abuses the patient’s trust by not acting in the patient’s best interest, resulting in the pain and suffering or death.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is defined as negligent behavior that deviates from normal standards of practice and causes injury or death to the patient. To determine medical malpractice, a question is asked of the healthcare provider’s behavior, “What would a competent medical professional have done in this situation?” If the caregiver’s conduct was not congruent with the standard of his or her profession and led to patient injury, then there is a case for medical malpractice.

It is important to remember that the duty of a medical professional is not the duty to cure, or even to guarantee a good outcome from treatment. Medical malpractice does not occur every time medical treatment is not successful. Rather, the duty is to provide good medical care according to accepted standards. For this reason, winning a medical malpractice claim is primarily dependent on obtaining expert testimony who can not only teach, but explain what those applicable standards are to the jury. Excellent advocacy is also a must, as victims are often fighting their claims against hospitals who have entire teams of lawyers at their disposal.

What makes Werner Wetherington Qualified to Handle Your Medical Malpractice Claim?

Medical malpractice lawsuits differ from other personal injury cases because they involve two intertwining areas of expertise: law and medicine. These cases are inherently complex and require the attention and skill of an attorney who is well-versed in both of these areas. The Georgia medical malpractice attorneys at Werner Wetherington:

  • Have a firm understanding of medicine;
  • Are able to decipher medical documents;
  • Know which experts to consult;
  • Know which questions to ask;
  • Know what to expect from the corporate lawyers of the doctors and hospitals; and

What Types of Medical Malpractice Claims do we Handle?

We are currently accepting claims involving the following areas of medical malpractice:

  • Failure to properly diagnose or treat a medical condition, and that failure results in a new or aggravating injury to the patient
  • Failure to properly diagnose a disease or illness
  • Failure to properly monitor patients in the course of a disease or illness
  • Failure to properly treat patients with a diagnosed disease or illness
  • Surgical errors, including wrong-site surgery or anesthesia errors
  • Failure to fully inform patients of risks of procedures and surgeries
  • Misuse of prescription drugs
  • Improper use of medical equipment or implants
  • Negligence when performing a surgical procedure
  • Birth injuries or trauma
  • Ignoring undesirable prescription drug reactions
  • Any medical negligence claim involving a brain injury

Medical Malpractice Claims for Anesthesia Errors

If anesthesia is used incorrectly, and a patient experiences injury or death, the negligent professional may be held liable for any resulting damages. Some examples of negligence by an anesthesiologist or other healthcare professional include:

  • Choosing the incorrect drug;
  • Administering drugs that interact negatively with one another;
  • Administering the wrong dosage of the drug;
  • Giving a drug to an allergic patient;
  • Failing to monitor vital signs;
  • Failing to act upon changes in vital signs;
  • Administering anesthesia too late;
  • Failing to intubate;
  • Failing to use machines correctly;
  • Using faulty equipment;
  • Shutting off the alarm on the pulse oximeter; and
  • Failing to inform the patient of instructions regarding the procedure.

There are three kinds of anesthesia: local, regional, and general. Each one is used in different circumstances and carries differing possible complications. One of the most serious complications of an anesthesia error is anesthesia awareness, when a patient awakes during surgery and can see and/or feel the ongoing surgery.

Medical Malpractice Caused by a Treating Physician

  • Misreading of a chart, x-rays, or test results;
  • Failure to diagnose cardiac problems that may lead to a heart attack;
  • Surgical errors (botched operation, surgery on the wrong body part, etc.);
  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis (most frequently a blood clot, aneurysm, appendicitis, stroke or pulmonary embolism);
  • Medication errors;
  • Postoperative infections caused, unrecognized, or untreated by the facility; and
  • Failure to monitor a patient post-treatment.

Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis by a Treating Physician

In Georgia, a failure to diagnose an illness correctly can have devastating effects on a patient and their family. Injuries resulting from a medical misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can leave patients with debilitating pain and lasting physical impairments, and in the worst cases, result in fatalities. Commonly misdiagnosed conditions include:

  • breast cancer
  • lung cancer
  • ovarian cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • brain tumor
  • infections
  • appendicitis
  • ectopic pregnancy
  • vascular diseases.

To recover compensation in a misdiagnosis lawsuit, an injured patient must prove that the healthcare professional was negligent. Some examples of medical negligence that can lead to a misdiagnosis include:

  • Failure to Listen to the Patient: When a patient tells a doctor that they aren’t feeling well, it is the doctor’s responsibility to listen and examine the patient’s symptoms. Should the doctor fail to examine one of the symptoms and the patient gets sicker, the doctor can be liable for a misdiagnosis.
  • Failure to Recognize Symptoms: Doctors are trained to make diagnoses based upon a patient’s symptoms. If a healthcare professional fails to make an accurate diagnosis despite symptoms indicating a particular illness, they may be held liable for medical malpractice.
  • Failure to Examine Medical History: Physicians have a responsibility to examine their patient’s personal and family medical history. The physician may be considered negligent if they didn’t examine the patient’s medical history, the patient becomes sicker, and the illness would have been easily identifiable after examining their medical history.
  • Ordering an Improper Test: If a doctor orders an incorrect test based on the symptoms in their patient, they may be negligent if the patient sustains further injury. Additionally, a doctor can be found negligent if they fail to order a test after observing the symptoms in their patient.
  • Failure to Interpret Tests Correctly: When a doctor orders a test for a patient, they are charged with correctly interpreting the results. Should a doctor carelessly interpret a patient’s test, they may be liable for any unnecessary injury or sickness that results from their negligence.

When a patient is misdiagnosed, their illness has time to progress without adequate treatment. In the worst cases, this can result in death. Additionally, when a patient is misdiagnosed with an illness from which they are not suffering, they can be subjected to painful and risky treatments. If the doctor in either of these instances was negligent in misdiagnosing the illness, they may be liable for any resulting damages incurred by the patient.

Postoperative Negligence by a Treating Surgeon

Postoperative care refers to the monitoring and subsequent care that a patient receives following surgery or treatment. Medical professionals are responsible for monitoring a patient for complications that arise from surgery or treatment, preventing and treating infections, monitoring vital signs, giving detailed instructions to the patient for post-surgical care, and correctly prescribing medicine to the patient to aid in the healing process and prevent complications. If a doctor fails to properly monitor a patient or fails to notice symptoms, that patient may face suffer a severe injury. In these cases, the patient may have a viable medical malpractice lawsuit.

Institutional Medical Malpractice by a Hospital System

In certain cases, the hospital where the patient was injured can also be sued in a hospital negligence lawsuit. First, hospitals are charged with adequately evaluating prospective employees’ qualifications, including prior experience, certifications and level of education. If the hospital provides privileges to an incompetent or under-qualified medical professional, it may be held liable for any patient injured by that employee’s incompetence. For instance, if a hospital fails to check whether an employee has the proper degree or certification and that employee causes an injury, the hospital may be found liable.

Second, hospital employees and staff sometimes engage in conduct that amounts to medical malpractice, for which the hospital can be held liable. Some of these include:

  • Inaccurate diagnosis;
  • Patient neglect and refusal to offer treatment;
  • Ignoring a patient to the point that their condition becomes unstable;
  • Failing to send a patient to a specialist if the current physician’s care is insufficient;
  • Failing to order obligatory diagnostic tests to help determine treatment options;
  • Administering the incorrect medication or amount of a drug;
  • Erroneous use of anesthesia;
  • Misuse of medical equipment;
  • Pointless or nonconsensual surgery; and
  • Infection caused by not adhering to hospital protocol.

Some of the types of infections, illnesses, and conditions that commonly arise from postoperative negligence include:

  • Sepsis;
  • Viral infections;
  • Internal bleeding;
  • Necrotizing fasciitis;
  • Infections at the site of surgery;
  • Tissue necrosis (death);
  • Organ perforation that went unnoticed;
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs);
  • Staphylococcus (Staph) infections;
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA);
  • Bloodstream infections;
  • Blood clots or pulmonary embolism;
  • Respiratory infections like pneumonia; and
  • Peritonitis.

What Compensation is Available in a Medical Malpractice Claim in Georgia?

In Georgia medical malpractice cases, compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the injured patient for the harm caused by a medical professional’s negligence. Compensatory medical malpractice damages attempt to make the victim “whole” again and provide financial compensation for economic and non-economic losses. Also known as actual damages, economic losses that may be covered include:

Medical expenses: These damages cover the cost of hospital stays, doctor visits, physical therapy, prescription drugs, assistive devices and similar expenses. When an injury is severe or permanent, the medical malpractice victim may also be awarded compensation for future medical expenses.

Lost wages: Patients who must take time away from work to recover from their medical malpractice injuries may be able to collect compensation for lost wages.

Loss of earning capacity: When a patient is unable to earn the same amount of money as he or she did prior to their accident, they may be awarded compensation for a loss of earning capacity.

Pain and suffering: Medical malpractice damages for pain and suffering typically compensate the victim for the physical pain caused by their injuries. These damages may also include compensation for emotional distress, which refers to the anxiety, depression, fear, frustration and other mental suffering that can develop as a result of a medical malpractice injury.

Loss of Consortium: The spouse of the medical malpractice victim may be able to recover compensation for the loss of marital benefits. Loss of companionship, sexual relations, affection, and comfort are among the compensable marital benefits. Loss of consortium medical malpractice damages are typically awarded in cases of life-changing or permanent injuries.

In some cases, where the medical malpractice claim involves the death of a family member or loved one, the victim’s family may be entitled to bring a wrongful death claim.

When a nurse, doctor or other medical professional acts with gross negligence, or if their conduct is willful or malicious, the injured patient may be entitled to punitive damages. Rather than compensate the victim for their losses, punitive medical malpractice damages aim to punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in similar conduct.

Important Note on Medical Malpractice Claims in Georgia

Under Georgia law, a statute of limitations limits the amount of time an injured party may pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against a negligent party. Georgia’s medical malpractice statute of limitations is two years. The two-year period begins as soon as the injury or death occurs. However, if injury or death occurs later than the wrongful or negligent act that caused it, the victim or victim’s family must take action within five years of the medical malpractice act. Due to time spent receiving further care as a result of the medical malpractice and additional recovery time, the statute of limitations expires much faster than most people realize.

Talk to a Georgia Medical Malpractice Attorney for Free

Call the attorneys at Werner Wetherington for a free and 100% confidential consultation. When you call, we conduct a thorough investigation from every angle. If we accept your case, you will never pay us a dime, unless and until we favorably resolve your case.

In some cases, you may not need an attorney. If that is the case, we will tell you. We will give you honest and direct advice. We are committed to maintaining the highest standards of integrity, honesty, professionalism and competence.