Whether you are visiting your family doctor for a regular checkup or going to the hospital for emergency treatment, everyone who seeks treatment from a licensed medical professional in Washington should receive reasonably thorough and accurate care. Healthcare providers who fail to meet this basic standard may be considered legally negligent, which in turn could make them financially liable for any avoidable harm a patient suffers due to their misconduct.
As any seasoned personal injury attorney knows, though, filing suit over alleged medical negligence can be much more complicated than doing so over any other kind of negligence. Because of that, seeking assistance from a knowledgeable Yakima medical malpractice lawyer should be a top priority for anyone who believes their doctor’s misconduct caused them harm.
What Counts as Legally Actionable Malpractice?
Just like motor vehicle drivers who cause traffic accidents and property owners who let their land fall into disrepair, healthcare practitioners can be held civilly liable for harm they cause another person by acting negligently. For doctors, nurses, and other physicians, though, the relevant factor in determining whether negligence occurred is not a “duty of care,” but rather the “standard of care” applicable to a specific situation.
Every doctor is expected to provide the same level of care that another physician with equivalent skills and experience would provide under the same circumstances. Importantly, though, the circumstances a doctor is working under can make a big difference in terms of the “standards” they are expected to meet—for example, a surgeon working in a crowded ER may be given more leeway for earnest mistakes than a pediatrician seeing a patient in their own private office.
With that in mind, possible grounds for a malpractice lawsuit may include:
- Failure to diagnose a patient’s condition, or misdiagnosing them with the wrong illness
- Prescribing the wrong type or dosage of medication
- Failing to order and/or correctly interpret medical testing
- Not monitoring patients closely before, during, and after medical procedures
- Mistakes during surgery, including leaving foreign objects inside a patient’s body
- Lack of proper follow-up care after discharge
- Failure to account for a specific patient’s risk factors and/or allergies
An experienced Yakima medical malpractice attorney could review a particular scenario and offer guidance about whether it constitutes malpractice.
How Washington State Law Governs Malpractice Litigation
While Washington does not strictly mandate that prospective malpractice plaintiffs have support from a qualified medical expert when filing their claims, it is rare for this type of claim to have a positive result without expert counsel. Additionally, state law requires participation in a mediation process for all malpractice plaintiffs and defendants unless the parties have already agreed to enter mandatory arbitration, or a judge or the mediator expressly rules that mediation would not be prudent for a specific case.
Finally, Revised Code of Washington §4.16.350 generally requires prospective plaintiffs to file suit within three years after a medical error occurs or one year after they first discover their injuries. However, there are exceptions to this rule under a unique set of circumstances, as a knowledgeable medical negligence lawyer in Yakima could further explain.
A Yakima Medical Malpractice Attorney Could Fight for Your Rights
Knowing a doctor negligently injured you and proving them legally liable for the effects of that injury are two very different things. Without representation from a tenacious and skilled legal professional, your odds of achieving a beneficial resolution to this sort of claim are likely to be slim.
A dedicated Yakima medical malpractice lawyer’s assistance could make all the difference in how your case plays out. Call today to learn more.