Losing a limb is a devastating and life-changing circumstance that means complex medical treatments and lifelong challenges. Amputation can be the result of health conditions, traumatic accidents, or in some instances, medical negligence. When it comes to negligence, patients need to know what to do when medical malpractice leads to a preventable amputation.
Reasons for amputation
In most cases, amputation is necessary for medical reasons. The procedure may be to prevent the spread of infection or disease, or to alleviate vascular issues such as those caused by diabetes. In some instances, amputation is necessary for the proper treatment of injuries.
Common causes of wrongful amputation and loss of limb malpractice cases stem from traumatic events. Motor vehicle accidents are the most common causes, as well as agricultural accidents, workplace accidents, firearms, fireworks and explosives accidents, and electrocution.
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Proving medical malpractice
Sometimes amputation is the result of medical negligence. If a medical professional prescribes the wrong medication or fails to treat worsening symptoms, loss of a limb can occur. Other examples of medical malpractice include surgery on the wrong part of the body; failure to diagnose and treat postoperative blood clots; infection caused by medical equipment left in a patient’s body; administration of incorrect medication; and misdiagnosis of a medical condition.
Of the estimated 2 million Americans living with amputation annually, nearly half are the result of medical malpractice and traumatic events. Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by doctors or medical professional who fails to competently perform their duties.
To pursue a claim for medical malpractice, patients must prove some basic requirements. They must have proof that a patient-doctor relationship existed and that the acceptable standard of patient care wasn’t met. Next, a patient must prove that an injury was sustained because of an act of negligence. It must be shown that in the absence of negligence, the injury would not have occurred. Lastly, evidence needs to show that the injury resulted in significant damages. To pursue a medical malpractice claim, a patient must be able to show that the injury caused disability, loss of income, physical pain, mental anguish, and/or extra medical costs.
Wrongful amputation claims
In most states, a patient has six months to two years to file a medical malpractice claim after an injury. Once a claim is submitted, a malpractice review panel will hear arguments, review all evidence and expert testimony, and make a decision. If negligence is proven, then the claim will move to court, where further expert testimony is required. Depending on the trial, the patient may be awarded compensatory and punitive damages.
A medical malpractice attorney is essential to successfully filing a malpractice claim. When it comes to complex issues of fact and law, experienced medical malpractice attorneys have in-depth experience with expert witnesses and investigations and know how to follow the best options to win the most favorable outcome for a patient.