Your throat was killing you and you suspected you had strep. You went in to see your doctor and he prescribed antibiotics. At least that's what you thought he prescribed. Somehow, either he wrote the wrong prescription or the pharmacy made a mistake. Whatever the case, the medicine you took made you so sick you had to be hospitalized. Now they are running additional tests and things don't look good. Your friends have asked whether you are going to file a medical malpractice action. You're not really sure -- that sounds complicated and you are mostly worried about just getting better. To help folks in these and similar situations, we've collected some basic information about medical malpractice cases in Hartford.
For a general overview you may wish to start by checking out FindLaw's section on Medical Malpractice. Then return here for information specific to Hartford County.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is essentially professional negligence, committed by a health care provider, which causes injury to a patient. Common types of cases involve medication errors, birth injuries, anesthesia errors, misdiagnoses, delayed treatment, and treatment without permission.
Medical malpractice claims are typically brought against the doctor (or other health care provider), but in some cases, other entities such as hospitals or pharmaceutical companies can be named as defendants as well.
How Do You Prove Your Case?
Basically, to prove negligence, you need to establish:
Typically, one of the main things you will focus on is that the doctor breached his duty of care. Doctors and other health care professionals are held to a higher duty of care than the average person. They do not just have to act reasonably. Instead, in Connecticut, they are required to act "with the level of care, skill and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers."
In order to establish what "reasonably prudent similar health care providers recognize as acceptable and appropriate," you will present expert testimony from health care providers who have similar training and experience or who are otherwise deemed qualified by the court due to their training, experience or knowledge.
FindLaw has additional, general information about Proving Fault in Medical Malpractice Cases.
Bringing a Malpractice Action
A malpractice action is a civil matter and, in Hartford, will likely be heard at the Hartford Superior Court at 95 Washington Street. Your malpractice action must be brought within 2 years of the time the injury was first sustained, discovered, or should have been discovered and within 3 years of the act complained of.
In order to discourage baseless suits, under Connecticut law, the initial legal papers in a medical malpractice action must include a certificate of good faith in which the patient or his attorney essentially certifies that there is a reasonable basis for the malpractice action and includes a signed opinion from a health care provider.
What Damages Are Available?
Generally, as the plaintiff in a medical malpractice action, you will seek monetary compensation ("damages") for both "economic" and "non-economic" losses. Economic damages are easily quantifiable items such as medical expenses and lost wages, whereas "non-economic" damages are less tangible items such as pain and suffering.
Some states have maximum "caps" on the amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice cases, but Connecticut does not.
Between the medical terminology and expert testimony, medical malpractice cases can become quite complicated. It is recommended that you consult with an attorney to assess your case. Check out this FindLaw section for more information on Medical Malpractice Legal Help.
Contact a qualified attorney.