What Medical Professionals Are Liable for Malpractice?
Generally, patients who suffer injury due to medical malpractice consider their doctor the person principally responsible. However, multiple providers involved in your care may be liable for damages stemming from medical errors.
Medical malpractice claims are complex. Recovering the full compensation you deserve is dependent on identifying all of the professionals at fault for the injuries you or your loved one sustained.
Our Vancouver medical malpractice lawyers can fully investigate your case and determine who is liable for your losses stemming from negligent medical care and treatment. Contact Klein Lawyers today for a free case review.
Are Doctors Liable for Medical Malpractice?
The word “doctor” may refer to a general practitioner (GP), family physician, or medical specialist. Most medical malpractice claims are brought against doctors by patients who suffer harm as a result of diagnosis errors, adverse outcomes stemming from negligent care, and other serious issues.
Doctors who may be liable in a medical malpractice claim include:
- General practitioners/family physicians: These doctors serve as a “first line of defense” for a variety of health issues. If your GP or family physician fails to order standard tests or fails to provide referral to a specialist, you may be able to bring a malpractice claim.
- Emergency room physicians: The emergency room is a hectic and demanding work environment. In spite of these challenges, emergency room doctors are still expected to maintain a high standard of care. Patients may be able to sue if they suffer due to lapses in care for serious conditions (such as a heart attack, stroke, etc.) and injuries.
- Obstetricians/gynaecologists: Doctors generally dual specialize in obstetrics and gynaecology (OB/GYN). A significant portion of their practice involves caring for expectant mothers and their babies during pregnancy and labour. As a result, birth injury claims frequently focus on questions of negligence involving OB/GYNs.
- Surgeons: Surgery encompasses multiple medical specialties and subspecialties. Despite the extensive education and advanced training surgeons must undergo, surgical errors are still a major source of medical malpractice claims.
- Anesthesiologists: Anesthesiologists may be sued for malpractice if they commit errors in the administration of anesthesia, fail to monitor patients during surgery, and more.
- Cardiologists and cardiac surgeons: Heart health is one of the major concerns for which patients visit the doctor. Negligence on the part of a cardiologist or heart surgeon can lead to or increase the risk of a heart attack and other potentially life-threatening issues.
- Oncologists: Oncology is the medical specialty devoted to cancer care. Oncologists may be liable for malpractice in cases of misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis of cancer.
- Plastic surgeons: Most people associate plastic surgery malpractice with the botched surgeries that are splashed across the front pages of tabloids and gossip websites. In reality, however, surgical errors in cosmetic procedures can lead to a wide range of serious health issues. They may also raise questions of informed consent and whether the surgeon adequately discussed potential risks with the patient.
- Ophthalmologists: Doctors who specialize in the health of the eyes are ophthalmologists. Malpractice issues may arise in cases where the ophthalmologist fails to diagnose a disease that threatens a patient’s sight (such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinopathy, etc.) or negligence in eye surgeries such as LASIK, cataract removal, and other procedures.
- Neurologists: The brain and central nervous system make up a delicate mechanism responsible for all aspects of the body’s function. Substandard neurological care (such as medication errors, misdiagnosis, and surgical negligence) can prove dangerous and even fatal.
- Psychiatrists: Malpractice on the part of a psychiatrist can result in undiagnosed mental health problems or the exacerbation of a current disorder. Both patients and others (such as family members, friends, and even strangers) may suffer harm as a result of psychiatric negligence.
This is not a comprehensive list. If you believe you or a loved one suffered injury due to medical malpractice, it is in your best interest to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to determine all of the liable parties.
Other practitioners who may be permitted to use the title “doctor” (although they don’t have a Doctor of Medicine degree) can also be held liable for medical malpractice. These additional liable parties may include:
These professionals do not have to complete the same amount of education and training to earn the title of “doctor.” However, they are required to abide by the standards of their profession, and may be sued for malpractice if their negligence harms a patient.
What Other Medical Providers Are Liable for Malpractice?
Every patient expects their doctor to provide sound medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment in accordance with the standards of the healthcare profession. When a physician violates the standard of care, patients will likely consider their doctor – and perhaps only their doctor – as the liable party.
In reality, however, multiple healthcare providers may be liable in a medical malpractice claim. Additional parties in your claim may include:
- Nurses: As with physicians, nurses must undergo specialized training to care for patients. Nurses (as well as medical assistants, technicians, and other staff) may be liable for negligence and errors.
- Pharmacists: Patients have a right to expect that any medications they are prescribed will make them better, not worse. Unfortunately, medication errors on the part of a pharmacist (such as dispensing the wrong medication, filling the wrong dosage, and failing to advise patients of potential risks) can endanger a patient’s health. Pharmacists may be liable for such errors.
- Physical therapists: Physical therapists help patients regain their strength and mobility after an injury, during recovery from surgery, and at other critical junctures in their recovery. Negligence on the part of a physical therapist (such as exercises that are ill-suited for a patient’s condition or stage of recovery) can result in serious injury.
- Midwives: Midwives are similar to nurses in the education and training required to assist with labour, delivery, and caring for mothers and children after birth. Though they are not subject to the same standards as physicians, midwives may be liable for birth injuries arising from negligence.
These and other healthcare providers may be liable either individually and/or as employees of a hospital or medical centre. Our Vancouver medical malpractice lawyers can investigate to determine if you have a claim against the facility where you received inadequate care.
Start Building Your Medical Malpractice Claim
The aftermath of a medical error is devastating for patients and their families. You or your loved one may be facing significant complications, require additional treatment(s), suffer permanent impairment, or be past the point where a condition will respond to care. A significant number of patients die also every year as a result of preventable medical negligence.
The team at Klein Lawyers is here to help you and your family recover the compensation you deserve for the losses caused by medical malpractice. Our law firm has extensive experience handling complex litigation, and we will draw upon our knowledge, resources, access to experts, and determination to build a claim for damages on your behalf.
Please call Klein Lawyers at (604) 874-7171 today for a free case review. Our Vancouver medical malpractice lawyers serve clients throughout British Columbia, including the areas of Surrey, Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley, and more.