Many North Carolina residents form close, trusting relationships with their primary care doctors. They assume that their doctor is someone that they can depend upon to give them the best medical care possible. Unfortunately, some primary care doctors make mistakes that result in significant harm to their patients. Whether it is failure to accurately diagnose and treat a condition, prescribing the wrong medication, or another medical error, these mistakes can lead to preventable patient injuries and suffering.
If you or a loved one have been harmed by the actions of your North Carolina primary care physician, a medical malpractice attorney can help you determine whether or not you have a valid medical malpractice claim. At our full-service North Carolina personal injury law firm, our skilled lawyers have vast experience in medical malpractice cases, and we will ensure that your rights and best interests are fully protected.
What Mistakes Can Be Made by Primary Care Physicians?
In order to become a physician, doctors must attend many year of post-high school education. Most have also undergone extensive on-the-job training. Nevertheless, doctors are not perfect and they sometimes make mistakes. Some of these mistakes are virtually harmless while others result in permanent patient injury or even death. When a physician’s mistake causes the patient to suffer new or worsened medical concerns, the behavior may be considered medical negligence.
Typically, a doctor is considered negligent when he or she fails to meet the “medical standard of care.” This standard of care in North Carolina refers to the type of care that a reasonably competent physician of similar education and experience would have provided under similar circumstances.
Some of the most common mistakes made by primary care doctors include:
- Failure to treat a patient’s condition appropriately: Doctors are expected to provide skilled medical care to their patients. If a doctor fails to order the conventionally appropriate medical tests, monitor the patient’s condition, and provide the medical care he or she needs, this may be considered medical negligence.
- Diagnostic mistakes: Understandably, doctors cannot always immediately know what is wrong with their patients. However, there are some circumstances in which a doctor’s failure to accurately diagnose a patient’s condition is considered an example of medical negligence. Delayed diagnoses can result in patients not receiving the medical care they need to stop or slow the progression of their condition. An inaccurate diagnosis can cause a patient to miss out on the medical treatment he or she needs while being subject to superfluous and potentially harmful treatment.
- Failure to provide a referral: When a doctor cannot provide the level of care a patient needs, the doctor has an obligation to refer that patient to a specialist who can help. In some circumstances, failure to refer a patient to a specialist may constitute medical negligence.
- Use of defective or recalled medical devices: Medical professionals should always ensure that medical equipment is properly maintained and will not malfunction. If a patient is harmed by a defective medical device, liability may lie with the medical facility at which the injury occurred or with the manufacturer of the medical device.
Building a Case for Compensation
In order to prove that medical malpractice occurred, you and your attorney will need to prove several distinct elements. First, you will need to show that your doctor was responsible for your treatment and, therefore, owed you a duty of care. Next, you must show that the doctor breached this duty by failing to provide care in accordance with the prevailing standard of care. In most malpractice cases, expert witnesses—who are usually medical professionals themselves—provide testimony regarding the prevailing standard of care and how the doctor in question was negligent. The final two elements that must be shown are that the doctor’s actions or failure to act caused you to suffer injuries and that your injuries or impairments were significant.
After proving that medical malpractice did, in fact, occur, you and your attorney will then make your case for compensation. Under North Carolina law, you have the right to seek damages for the costs of medical care associated with the new or worsened health conditions. You are also likely to be entitled to reimbursement for time away from work, pain and suffering, and much more. Generally, the amount of compensation you can receive will depend on many factors, especially the severity and extent of your injuries.
Contact a North Carolina Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you or a loved one have been harmed by the negligent actions of your primary care physician, you may have a right to compensation. Contact a skilled North Carolina medical malpractice lawyer from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to discuss your case and your available options. We will do everything we can to get you full compensation under the law—just as we did in securing a $650,000 settlement for our 25-year-old client who developed a permanent disability after doctors failed to diagnose his fungal meningitis. Call (833) 997-1774 for a free consultation with a member of our team today.