Medical malpractice is a considerable source of personal injury claims in New Jersey. As of 2021, New Jersey was 10th in the US for the number of active physicians and 5th in the US for the number of medical malpractice claims. Medical malpractice insurance payouts totaled over $130 million in 2020 with almost 50% of the claims being for the death or significant permanent injury of a patient.

The personal injury attorneys at Deutchman & Drews have been helping injured persons and their families recover for their losses for more than 30 years.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when the provider of medical services or treatment fails to meet the minimum standard of care that is required by the profession and a patient is injured as a result. Providing medical services includes diagnosing a patient’s symptoms and recommending, prescribing, or performing treatment.

Medical professionals are taught certain protocols to be followed when administering care to patients. But professional judgment is also a factor. As long as the treatment a patient receives meets the accepted standard within the medical community, the fact that a patient has a negative outcome does not mean malpractice was committed.

Medical Errors that Lead to Medical Malpractice Claims

Not all medical experiences that do not turn out well are the result of medical malpractice. There can be more than one medically accepted conclusion that might be reached given a patient’s symptoms. Or there may be several different treatment options that are considered appropriate when a particular condition is diagnosed.

Most medical malpractice claims arise from a mistake made in diagnosing a patient’s symptoms. A doctor may fail to recognize the significance of a patient’s symptoms or may conclude they indicate the wrong illness. Claims are also frequently made for mistakes during treatment such as delayed treatment, complications from treatment, and poor outcomes from treatment.

Types of Physicians Most Likely to Get Sued

It is probably no surprise that surgeons are more likely to get sued than doctors practicing other types of medical specialties. Generally, doctors performing medical services that involve more risk to the patient are the most likely to be named in medical malpractice lawsuits.

According to physicians surveyed in the 2021 malpractice report by Medscape, the following specialties reported having been named in a lawsuit:

  • Plastic surgery – 83%
  • General surgery – 83%
  • Orthopedics – 81%
  • Urology – 80%
  • OB/GYN – 79%
  • Specialized surgery – 74%
  • Emergency medicine – 70%

Why Medical Errors Occur

In a recent report from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement/National Patient Safety Foundation persons with medical error experience identified the factors they believe contribute to doctor errors.

  • Not paying attention to details
  • Not listening
  • Lack of training
  • Too dismissive of patient complaints/symptoms
  • Not spending enough time with a patient
  • Provider tired, over-worked, under stress
  • Providers not communicating with each other
  • Complexity of medical issue

How to Make a Claim for Medical Malpractice in New Jersey

When a person believes they have a claim against a doctor for medical malpractice it is a good idea to talk with a personal injury attorney experienced in handling medical malpractice claims as soon as possible.

Medical malpractice claims are subject to time limits and they require a special affidavit from another doctor willing to say that there is a reasonable probability that the doctor being sued did violate the medically accepted standard of care for providing a particular medical service.

With over 65 years of combined litigation experience the attorneys at the New Jersey law firm of Deutchman & Drews understand the complexities of medical malpractice claims and are focused on providing their clients with exceptional service. Call 732-828-1300 to schedule a free consultation or contact Deutchman & Drews here.