What constitutes medical malpractice in Nevada?
What is Medical Malpractice in Nevada?
The relationship between a physician and their patient is one based on deep trust in the physician’s abilities and intentions. A patient and their family believes that many years of medical training and experience in their field means that their doctor would never make a mistake. However, doctors are not superhuman, and mistakes do happen that can have serious consequences for the patient.
What is Medical Malpractice?
When a physician, hospital or other healthcare provider makes an error that results in injury, the patient can file a personal injury suit known as medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is a term that describes care by a physician as inappropriate, unethical, substandard or negligent.
A patient can be compensated for damages if they can prove that the doctor’s error was a result of the legal definition of negligence. There are elements of negligence that provide the foundation for a medical malpractice case. They are 1) a duty owed to someone, 2) a breach of that duty, and 3) the breach of duty results in harm or the harm is approximately caused by the breach. Doctors owe a duty of care to their patients, meaning that once a patient enters into a relationship with a doctor, the doctor must treat the patient with skill and care up to the standard expected from any physician. Proximate cause is a direct relationship between the harm suffered by the patient and the negligent actions of the doctor. If the patient suffers an injury that would have happened anyway, then that cannot be used as a basis for malpractice. The patient must prove that the harm due to medical negligence resulted in considerable damage.
- Constant pain and suffering
- Significant income loss
Merely being dissatisfied with medical treatment does not constitute malpractice.
What are the Laws About Medical Malpractice in Nevada?
Each state has its own specific laws about medical malpractice. In Nevada, medical malpractice is defined under Nevada Revised Statute 41A.009 as “the failure of a physician, hospital, or employee of a hospital, in rendering services, to use the reasonable care, skill, or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances.” Examples of medical malpractice in Nevada include:
- Misdiagnosis of a serious illness, a delayed diagnosis, or the failure to diagnose an illness at all
- Administering the wrong medication or the wrong dosage
- Discharging the patient from the hospital prematurely
- Neglecting to order tests
- Medical equipment left inside the patient’s body after surgery
- Surgery performed on the wrong body part
- Persistent pain following surgery
- Infections acquired in the hospital
To protect themselves from lawsuits, doctors purchase malpractice insurance, which can be very costly. In order to keep physicians from leaving for other states, each state has a cap on medical malpractice lawsuits. In Nevada, the maximum that can be paid for non-economic damages is $350,000. These are the effects of injury that cannot be easily assessed financially, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and anxiety.
Nevada also has a statute of limitations, or time limit, for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. A patient has a three year limit from when the injury occured, or within one year from when the injury is discovered by the patient. If a child has been brain damaged through negligence of a healthcare provider, the time limit in Nevada to file a medical malpractice lawsuit is until the child is 10 years old.
State law also provides exceptions to the statute of limitations if the patient can prove that the doctor or other healthcare provider did not disclose the error to the patient when they should have been told about it.
How Do I File a Medical Malpractice Claim in Nevada?
- Before filing a claim, the patient should contact the doctor or healthcare provider who was involved in the injury to understand how the mistake was made, and to see if the problem can be fixed. Most medical providers will want to address the problem before facing a lawsuit.
- If the first step of contacting the healthcare provider is not helpful to the situation, the patient can try contacting the medical licensing board, so that they can potentially discipline the healthcare provider or issue them a warning. They can also provide advice about what to do next.
- Many states, including Nevada, require an affidavit of merit, which is signed by another medical expert – usually another physician – as evidence to support the claim that the injury suffered was due to a healthcare professional’s negligence. In the affidavit, the expert will look at the plaintiff’s medical records and give their professional opinion that the injuries were the result of the healthcare provider not following standard medical practices. The plaintiff’s attorney files the affidavit as evidence of the case’s merit. Any plaintiff wanting to file a medical malpractice case in Nevada must secure the affidavit of merit within the statute of limitations of one to three years, or the case may not be heard.
- An out-of-court settlement may be the best outcome of a medical malpractice case in Nevada, and nationally, many medical malpractice cases are resolved this way. Even though there is a cap on non-economic benefits of $350,000, the plaintiff may be eligible for millions of dollars in compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills and lost income. It is always essential to work with an experienced attorney on a medical malpractice case, who can expertly evaluate your case and aggressively fight for your rights.
Injuries suffered as a result of medical negligence can be heartbreaking. Not only has the trust in your medical profession been broken, but the results of a physician’s negligence can be a prolonged recovery, disability, mounting medical bills, and a loss of income due to inability to work. If you or a family member has suffered due to medical malpractice in Nevada, don’t leave anything to chance. You need the best possible legal representation to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a consultation and let us help you on the road to recovery.