If you or your loved one were injured due to a medical mistake in Reno, you may be eligible for compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, these cases are often complex and you should seek guidance from an experienced Reno Medical Malpractice Lawyer.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
According to the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys, medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor or other health care professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. Not all medical mistakes are malpractice, however. They must involve a violation in the standard of care expected of health care professionals in similar situations with similar patients and result in an injury that the patient would not have endured in the absence of negligence. Some common examples of medical malpractice include:
Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis
Misreading or failing to read diagnostic lab reports
Surgical errors or wrong-site surgery
Injuries occurring during or related to childbirth
Prescription errors such as improper medication or improper dosage
Inadequate follow-up or aftercare
Disregarding or failing to take an adequate patient history
Failure to order proper testing
Failure to recognize symptoms
In 2016, Johns Hopkins Medicine released the results of a study that revealed that medical errors account for more than 250,000 deaths a year in the United States, making it the third leading cause of death in the nation, behind only heart disease and cancer. Nevada’s medical malpractice laws apply to health care providers. A health care provider is defined as any individual or entity that is licensed or otherwise authorized to perform medical treatment or services on patients. This can include:
Registered physical therapists
Medical laboratory directors or technicians
A licensed hospital, clinic surgery center
Physicians’ professional corporation or group practice that employs any such people
The researchers in the Johns Hopkins study acknowledged that most of the medical errors they studied weren’t due to bad doctors, but rather to systemic problems such as poorly coordinated care, fragmented insurance networks, the absence or underuse of safety nets and protocols, a lack of accountability and unwarranted variation in physician practice patterns.
According to a 2018 article from Modern Healthcare, the most common source of medical malpractice claims is diagnostic errors, as revealed by a new study. The study found that about one-third of all medical negligence claims are related to errors in diagnosis. Surgical and procedural claims account for 24 percent of malpractice cases, while medical management claims account for 14 percent. Approximately 36 percent of the diagnosis claims resulted in the death of the patient, and 36 percent of these complaints occurred in outpatient settings. About one-third of the diagnosis claims were the result of the doctor failing to take a complete medical history. More than half involved errors related to lab testing.
Nevada’s Medical Malpractice Laws
Medical malpractice falls within the arena of personal injury law. However, the procedures and requirements involved in medical malpractice cases are considerably more complex than other injury cases. Here are the highlights of Nevada’s laws pertaining to medical malpractice:
The statute of limitations to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in the state is three years from the date of the injury or one year after the plaintiff discovers or should have reasonably known of the injury. One exception to the statutory deadline is in cases where the health care provider concealed any act, error, or omission upon which the malpractice case is based. Another exception involves brain injuries in children due to a childbirth injury caused by medical malpractice and those cases may be filed up until the child reaches the age of 10.
All medical malpractice cases filed in court are required to be accompanied by an affidavit from a qualified medical professional supporting the allegations made in the complaint. If the affidavit of merit is absent from the filing, the court may dismiss the case without prejudice, meaning that the plaintiff is free to re-file after the affidavit has been obtained.
Nevada medical malpractice suits have a cap on the amount of non-economic, pain and suffering-type damages that can be recovered. The limit is $350,000 that the plaintiff may receive from each defendant named in the suit.
All parties involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit in Nevada must participate in a settlement conference before a district judge other than the judge who has been assigned to the case.
Medical malpractice cases that result in death may fall under the state’s wrongful death statute, meaning that the statute of limitations is two years rather than three. A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed against health care professionals by a personal representative of the state, the deceased’s spouse, children, or parents or other dependents. Your attorney will know whether your case should proceed as a medical malpractice suit or a wrongful death action.
In most cases, negligence must be proven. However, there are circumstances in which negligence is presumed, including:
Cases in which a foreign object is left in the patient’s body after surgery
There was an explosion or fire started by a substance used in the patient’s medical treatment
There was an unintended burn caused by heat, radiation, or chemicals
There was an injury to a part of the body other than the one being treated
A surgical procedure was completed on the wrong patient or the wrong body part.
Nevada’s modified comparative fault rule is in place in medical malpractice cases. What this means is that even if you are partially at fault for the injuries you suffered, you can still file a lawsuit against other at-fault parties. However, any damage settlement or award you receive will be reduced by the amount of responsibility you bear. For example, if you are found to be 20 percent responsible for your injuries, your award will be reduced by 20 percent.
Did a Reno Doctor or Healthcare Facility Injure You? Call Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers, LLC for Help
If you or your child have suffered an injury due to medical negligence in Reno, we would love to explore your legal options with you. We also serve clients in Lake Tahoe, Sparks, and Carson City. For a free consultation, contact us online or by calling (775) 600-6000.