It is a fact; more people die annually in the U.S. from medical errors than from freeway collisions, breast cancer, or AIDS. The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, acting as a federal advisory panel on medical malpractice, reported an alarming increase in the number of medical malpractice claims. The panel’s report cited studies placing the death toll due to medical negligence at over 225,000 in the U.S. each year.




We handle medical malpractice in Providence, RI; Boston, MA, Fall River, MA; and Hartford, CT, and surrounding areas. When medical neglect happens to you or a loved one you need a medical malpractice lawyer, someone who can help you now, not only to correct the wrong that has happened but to prevent the same harm to others. Call us we are here to help. Our medical malpractice lawyers will guide you through the process, and help protect you and your loved ones so call us now!

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Medical malpractice can be committed by anyone directly involved in giving care to the patient: emergency medical services, nurses, doctors, physician assistants, dentists, and pharmacists. This is just a shortlist of medical caregivers. In order to prove that the caregiver has committed medical malpractice, you must show that an act or omission by a medical provider has deviated from accepted standards of practice in the medical community. The patient then must suffer some harm, injury, or death, as a result of the deviation. Medical malpractice is a form of professional negligence.

Examples of Medical Malpractice

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Under the law, the claim must have the following characteristics:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed. You must show that you had a physician-patient relationship with the doctor you are suing — this means you hired the doctor and the doctor agreed to be hired. For example, you can’t sue a doctor you overheard giving advice at a cocktail party. If a doctor began seeing you and treating you, it is easy to prove a physician-patient relationship existed.
  • A violation of the standard of care. The law acknowledges that there are certain medical standards that are recognized by the profession as being acceptable medical treatment by reasonably prudent health care professionals under like or similar circumstances. This is known as the standard of care. A patient has the right to expect health care professionals to deliver care that is consistent with these standards. If it is determined that the standard of care was not met, then negligence may be established.
  • An injury was caused by negligence. For a medical malpractice claim to be valid, it is not sufficient that a health care professional simply violated the standard of care. The patient must also prove he or she sustained an injury that would not have occurred in the absence of negligence. An unfavorable outcome by itself is not malpractice. The patient must prove that the negligence caused the injury. If there is an injury without negligence or negligence that did not cause an injury, there is no case. Because many malpractice cases involve patients that were already sick or injured, there is often a question of whether what the doctor did, negligent or not, actually caused the harm. For example, if a patient dies after treatment for lung cancer, and the doctor did do something negligent, it could be hard to prove that the doctor’s negligence caused the death rather than cancer. The patient must show that it is “more likely than not” that the doctor’s incompetence directly caused the injury. Usually, the patient must have a medical expert testify that the doctor’s negligence caused the injury.
  • The injury led to specific damages. For a medical malpractice case to be viable, the patient must show that significant damages resulted from an injury received due to medical negligence. To pursue a medical malpractice claim, the patient must show that the injury resulted in disability, loss of income, unusual pain, suffering, and hardship, or significant past and future medical expenses.
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A birth injury can be the result of a number of factors, many of which are preventable. Below are some examples of healthcare negligence that might cause a birth injury.

    • Incorrect use of forceps during delivery. This might result in lacerations to the child or more severe injuries, like head injuries.
    • Improper use of vacuum extraction devices during delivery. This might result in bleeding in or around the brain.
    • Failure to respond to signs of fetal distress. This ultimately could result in a lack of oxygen to the fetus, which can result in a number of injuries.
    • Failure to monitor mother and child properly. Similarly, failure to monitor might lead to fetal distress.
    • Negligent cesarean delivery. This might include neglecting to take proper precautions when performing this surgery.

While some birth injuries, such as minor brachial plexus injuries, bruises or abrasions will heal completely with time, other injuries, such as neurological injuries, may result in long-term complications for the affected child.

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Informed consent is a patient’s legal and ethical right to decide what is done to his or her body and from the physician’s ethical duty to make sure that individuals are involved in decisions about their own health care. The process of securing informed consent has three phases, all of which involve information exchanged between doctor and patient and are part of patient education. First, in words an individual can understand, the physician must convey the details of a planned procedure or treatment, its potential benefits and serious risks, and any suitable alternatives. The patient should be presented with information on the most likely outcomes of the treatment. Second, the physician must evaluate whether or not the person has understood what has been said and has given knowing consent. Finally, the individual must sign the consent form; remember that the mere signature is not enough to show consent. The patient must have given consent knowing and understanding all of the risks imposed.

FAQs About Your

Medical Malpractice Case

How do I know if I have a medical malpractice case?
Medical Malpractice is a form of professional negligence that can be committed by any medical professional who is involved in giving care to a patient. To prove medical malpractice, a claimant must show that a doctor-patient relationship existed, that the professional violated the standard of care, and an injury resulted from that violation.    
What is “informed consent” and how does this relate to malpractice?
In Rhode Island, informed consent refers to the conversation a medical professional has with their patient when they explain the proposed course of treatment and its risks. The physician must also offer information for alternative treatments and/or the option of not treating a specific illness. Rhode Island requires a five-part test to decide if there is validity in a medical malpractice case surrounding a lack of informed consent. This test includes: the physician’s explanation of risk was inadequate, the risk was known and withheld by the physician, the risk was a valid concern, and the injury in question was caused by this undisclosed risk.
How can a jury determine if a physician’s actions were negligent?
All medical professionals are expected to abide by a standard of care. A judge is responsible for questions of law. A juror is a trier of fact. While a jury listens to an entire trial, their job is to take the law as described to them by the judge and apply all of the facts and information that were relayed to them through testimony throughout the trial. A jury is then responsible for rendering a verdict based on the law given to them during jury instructions by the judge and their opinion a to whether or not the case presented by the plaintiff meets or exceeds the standard of law as defined by the judge of negligence by the medical professional.
What are examples of medical malpractice?
A licensed medical professional's actions that fall below the standard of care include failure to diagnose/misdiagnosis, failure to order proper testing, failure to recognize symptoms, misreading/ignoring laboratory results, surgical errors or wrong-site surgery, improper medication/dosages, unnecessary surgery, poor follow-up or aftercare, premature discharge, or disregarding or not taking an appropriate patient history.  
How much time do I have to start my case?
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases in Rhode Island is up to three years after the discovery of their medical condition. In Massachusetts, patients are given up to three years from the discovery date if they would not have reasonably known of the malpractice. In Connecticut, patients are given up to two years to file their case.
Do I have any medical rights?
You have the right to:
  • Access information regarding your case that is accurate, easy to understand, and in your language.
  • Access any assistance you may need to understand your medical information.
  • Be involved in decisions regarding your medical treatment.
  • Receive respectful care from any medical professional.
  • Confidentiality regarding your medical care and treatments.
  • Read and copy your medical records to ensure accuracy.
  • File a complaint against any medical staff who treats you.

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