Imagine this: Your loved one is seeing a doctor for treatment of a psychiatric condition, but only continues to get worse. When they commit suicide, you want answers and believe the doctor is culpable, so you sue – and you win.
This is exactly what happened to a Long Island family whose loved one took his own life. They believe the doctor misdiagnosed him, failing to properly treat his condition, and possibly aggravating it with a cascade of prescription drugs that ultimately resulted in his suicide. When they won their case, they were awarded $10 million dollars.
New York Medical Malpractice Defined
What constitutes medical malpractice? Many people are unaware of their rights under the law if they or a loved one is injured by a doctor, hospital, or health care professional. Here’s what you need to know to protect you and your family and what you can do if you believe you’re a victim of medical malpractice.
Essentially, medical malpractice happens when a person is hurt by a medical professional, such as a doctor, because they fail to perform their medical obligations or violate the standard of care, resulting in injury.
There are all kinds of ways this can happen, though, and the Long Island case we mentioned at the top is one of the lesser-known ones: a prescribing cascade.
What Exactly Is A Prescribing Cascade?
The suicide victim initially saw the doctor for symptoms of depression and anxiety. The doctor prescribed drugs to treat these issues, such as anti-depressants and sleeping pills. These ultimately resulted in an adverse drug event that was misdiagnosed as a new medical condition.
In a medical malpractice suit, failure to recognize symptoms caused as a side effect of a new medication can be a failure of the standard of care. Proving that failure is what makes or breaks the medical malpractice claim.
The 4 Key Elements of New York Medical Malpractice
Getting injured by a doctor, or even dying while under their care, isn’t enough to prove medical malpractice. Under the law, there are four key elements that must be proven in order to substantiate that medical malpractice occurred.
These key elements are:
Duty to the Patient
In this element, the relationship between the patient and the defendant is established. Doctors have a duty to provide care to their patients, but in order to prove they breached that duty, you must first establish you were their patient. Once that relationship is established, you have proven the first element of medical malpractice.
Breach of Duty
Once duty is established, the doctor or medical provider must provide a standard of care. In a medical malpractice suit, you must prove they breached their duty by not providing that standard of care.
A few examples of breaches include:
- The medical practitioner did not identify or treat an illness or injury
- The medical practitioner did not recognize or diagnose an illness appropriately
- The medical practitioner did not use or possibly even take a patient’s medical history
- Surgical errors
Direct Causation to Injury
When you take someone to court for medical malpractice, you must also prove that the illness or injury you sustained was preventable. A direct link must be shown between a breach of duty and the illness or injury that occurred to fulfill this requirement.
Damages Resulting from the Injury
Finally, in order to be awarded compensation in a medical malpractice suit, you must demonstrate that your injury or illness resulted in damages that warrant financial compensation.
Medical malpractice does occur – and more often than many people realize. If it has happened to you or someone you love, know your rights to ensure you get the best care and outcome possible. Do not pay for the mistake of someone who was supposed to care for you.