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Did Your Doctor Fail to Explain the Risks of a Procedure? You May Be the Victim of Malpractice

On Behalf of | Jun 1, 2022 | 3M Bair Hugger Lawsuits

Medical malpractice is an unfortunately common occurrence in Baltimore. Doctors have seen malpractice insurance rates rise in response to the increasing number of malpractice claims in the state of Maryland. However, evidence suggests that many of these cases are due to undisciplined doctors who haven’t had their licenses revoked. As a result, it’s very possible that you may have been a victim of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice attorneys can help you to get the compensation you deserve.

Many patients wrongly assume that malpractice requires an egregious mistake. Some even believe that as long as a doctor didn’t intend to cause harm, there are no grounds for a lawsuit. However, the truth is that medical practitioners are held to a very high standard, and it’s possible for you to sue for damages in a variety of situations. Learn more about how medical malpractice works.

Did Your Doctor Fail to Explain the Risks of a Procedure? You May Be the Victim of Malpractice

How Is Medical Malpractice Defined Under Baltimore Law?

Baltimore must adhere to Maryland state statutes regarding medical malpractice. The Code of Maryland does not explicitly define medical malpractice, but rather defines the term “medical injury.” Just as with any other injury caused by someone else, you have the right to sue for damages. A medical injury is defined as an injury that resulted from rendering improper medical care or from failing to render care. However, this isn’t the only way a medical malpractice claim can be filed.

Although most medical malpractice lawsuits focus on medical injuries as defined in the state statutes, it’s also possible to sue when doctors fail to acquire informed consent. Under Maryland law, a medical procedure is only legal when the patient has given consent. You likely signed some forms before agreeing to a procedure, however that alone is not considered sufficient to obtain informed consent. Doctors have additional obligations, and you have a right to sue if these were not upheld.

Doctors’ Obligation to Disclose Risks

You are allowed to give or withhold your consent to any medical procedure as an adult. However, you cannot consent until you’ve received an explanation of the procedure and the risks involved. This is a well-established patient right, going all the way back to a 1977 court case. The case involved a mother who decided to get a tubal litigation procedure. Her doctor had told her that she would never have any more children after the operation.

However, the truth is that there is a small margin of error with tubal litigation. The patient’s doctor did not disclose this important fact when he explained the procedure. The patient became pregnant again after the procedure and took her case to court. Originally, the first court defended the doctor, saying that the woman signed a consent form that did in fact say that the procedure may not be successful. But the plaintiff appealed, which led to an important ruling.

Informed Consent Is Mandatory

The ruling in the Sard v. Hardy case declared that simply signing a consent form was not enough to count as informed consent. The patient needed to receive a proper explanation that included the probability of success and possible alternatives to the treatment. Furthermore, the court held that physicians have a responsibility to inform patients. Previously, it was a matter of “professional judgment.” Upon appeal, Sard won her lawsuit and was entitled to damages.

The Sard v. Hardy case is the foundation of patients’ rights to informed consent in Maryland. Doctors must give a “fair and reasonable” explanation so that patients can make an informed decision. This rule now falls under the umbrella of medical malpractice. If your doctor did not give you the whole truth before you agreed to a procedure, you may be able to sue for medical malpractice.

What Compensation Can You Receive for Medical Malpractice?

Whenever a patient is the victim of medical malpractice, they are entitled to sue for damages. Although you may have read about massive settlements in the news, each state has its own rules regarding damages and how much you can receive in compensation. Under Maryland law, there are two kinds of damages: Economic and non-economic damages. Medical malpractice attorneys will seek both forms of damages in the same lawsuit. You will not need to sue twice.

However, you’ll still have to win your case in order to receive any compensation. Furthermore, it’s extremely important to document damages as much as possible. Your lawyer will help you gather documents to sustain your claims in court. How much compensation can you receive? Consider how both forms of damages work and what you need to get compensation in each category.

Economic Damages

In most medical malpractice cases, if you win your case, you’ll receive a full award for your economic damages. The reason is that economic damages are measurable and can be proven with receipts or testimony regarding specific costs. As long as you have evidence for these damages, the court should award the full amount to you. Medical bills are the most obvious form of economic damage, but there are others you should consider as well.

You can also count your lost wages as a form of economic damage. If you were unable to work due to the procedure you received, calculate how much you would have made. You can support this claim with paystubs from previous months. Additional expenses can qualify as well. For example, if you needed to hire someone to help around the house since you couldn’t take care of your children or clean, that person’s pay would count as economic damage.

Noneconomic Damages

Noneconomic damages is the legal term used for payments to compensate a patient for pain and suffering. These damages also consider things like inconvenience or long-term physical impairment. However, non-economic damages are harder to prove since there may not be any way to quantify them. There is also a limit, or cap, to how much you can receive. This cap goes up by $15,000 annually. The court uses the cap for the year when the problem happened.

The 2022 cap is $860,000 for medical malpractice cases that do not result in death. If multiple people seek damages in certain wrongful death cases, an additional 25% is added to the cap. Due to these high numbers, many medical practitioners will try to settle out of court instead of letting the case go to trial. When you have medical malpractice attorneys helping you negotiate, you can maximize your potential settlement and get compensation faster than if you wait for a trial.

How Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help

The legal system is complex. A successful lawsuit requires a thorough understanding of legal proceedings and the relevant laws. What we’ve explained here is just a small portion of medical malpractice law. With an attorney, you’ll have the benefit of decades of legal experience and know-how. Your case will be filed correctly and you’ll have someone to help you negotiate the best compensation possible. If your case goes to trial, your lawyer will fight for your victory.

Contact Peter Angelos Law in Baltimore to schedule a consultation and discuss your case in greater detail. We’ll help you explore your options and fight for the compensation you deserve.