During his stay at the Washington Adventist Hospital for treatment for cancer of the spine, Ernest Haskins developed an infection and ulcers due to the hospital’s failure to follow certain standard of care procedures. The infection limited his treatment options, as few nursing homes would accept him because of it. When a facility 129 miles away agreed to take him, the hospital staff failed to inform the ambulatory crew of his condition and neglected to document the ulcers. Upon arrival at the nursing home, Mr. Haskins required the surgical removal of infected tissue. The ulcers continued to deteriorate and he died shortly thereafter.
You would think that this case would be a clear winner – but it was not. A court recently dismissed it due to the plaintiff’s failure to meet all of the following legal requirements for the filing of a medical malpractice claim:
- The physician owed the patient a duty of care (that there was a doctor-patient relationship)
- The physician violated a standard of care (you must show that your physician did not act as reasonable and competent physician would under similar circumstances)
- The patient suffered an injury that warrants compensation (such as severe and permanent injury or death, pain and suffering, lost income, and/or future medical expenses)
- The violation of the standard of care is what caused the harm suffered by the patient. This was one of the reasons the Haskins’ claim was dismissed – the court stated that the complaint, does not assert that Haskins died as a result of the Hospital’s alleged negligence, nor does it identify the date or cause of death
Other requirements for filing a medical malpractice claim in Georgia include:
- Gather records and documentation. The backbone of any legal claim is the strength of its documentation. Retain any medical reports, doctors’ notes, prescription records, pictures, physical therapy orders and treatment plans following your injury
- Expert Witnesses. In order to prove that your physician violated a standard of care for his profession, you need the testimony of expert witnesses
- Statute of limitations. If you do not file your claim within a certain time limit (usually within two years of the event that caused the injury) the court will not hear it
Don’t get your case thrown out of court because you waited too long, forgot to file a crucial document, or failed to make all the necessary claims in your complaint. Our office has lengthy experience with medical malpractice claims and our attorneys are at your service.