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Medical malpractice cases repeat common patterns of negligence

The shocking statistic reported nationwide in recent years, including in Rhode Island, is that medical negligence represents the third highest cause of human fatalities next to heart disease and cancer. That statistic is a powerful counter to those who would further restrict the ability of victimized patients to file medical malpractice claims. When a medical provider falls below the minimal standard of care required of his or her peers in that medical specialty, liability for damages will be attributed to the provider.

The test of falling below the standard of care is one that is based on the law of negligence. Another way of stating it is that the medical provider is liable for damages to the patient where the provider has failed to exercise due care under the circumstances. There are several areas of medical negligence that come up frequently and repeatedly.

One of the biggest areas of claims comes from failure to diagnose correctly and the failure to treat the right problem. Failure to diagnose often accompanies a misdiagnosis where an incorrect evaluation and treatment is provided. The plaintiff must prove by expert testimony that the physician's error is one that other physicians in the normal course of doing their job would not make.

If the negligence is the direct and substantial cause of the patient's injury or death, then medical malpractice liability is established. This is referred to as the need for legal causation. Another major area of malpractice incidents is anesthesia errors or mistakes in sedation prior to surgery. There are numerous factors that may indicate that the anesthesiologist has made a mistake.

Large monetary verdicts and settlements are regularly reported in Rhode Island and elsewhere regarding childbirth negligence. These are heartbreaking cases where some defect in the birthing treatment by the physicians or medical staff lead to a deprivation of oxygen, or some other deprivation or injury, to the baby during delivery. This can lead to permanent brain damage, cerebral palsy, paralysis and several other serious medical disabilities. Whenever medical malpractice is suspected under any set of facts, the best way to assure preservation of one's rights under the law is to consult as quickly as possible with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

Source:, "Common Reasons to Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney", Saul Rosen, Feb. 26, 2018

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