Oklahoma City Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Need an Oklahoma City medical malpractice lawyer? We can help.

Medical malpractice is defined as an act or omission by a doctor during treatment of a patient that falls below the expected standard of care and leads to an injury. Most medical malpractice suits typically involve a professional negligence claim.

As stated above, if the care provided by a doctor or other healthcare professional falls below the usual standard—as determined by how other reasonable professionals would have treated the same patient under similar circumstances—the injured patient may bring a negligence claim against the doctor. Any doctor or health professional who acted negligently is a potentially liable party in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Under Oklahoma Statutes §76-18, any action for damages against a medical professional must be brought within two years of the negligent action.

Common Types of Medical Malpractice

Common situations that can lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit include:

Dental Malpractice

Our law firm handles claims and lawsuits involving a wide range of serious oral injuries, including:

  • Broken Tooth
  • Chipped Tooth
  • Cracked Tooth
  • Faulty Crowns
  • Faulty Dental Bridges
  • Faulty Fillings
  • Faulty Implants
  • Faulty Root Canal
  • Failure to Diagnose Oral Cancer/Tumors
  • Lymphoma
  • Oropharyngeal Cancer
  • Salivary Gland Cancer
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Verrucous Carcinoma
  • Gum Injuries
  • Improper Tooth Extractions
  • Lip Injuries
  • Nerve Damage
  • Scarring and Disfigurement
  • Sinus Puncture/Perforation
  • Tongue Injuries

Factors that influence how much compensation you can recover for an oral injury in Oklahoma include:

  • The severity of the dental trauma or mouth injury.
  • The duration or permanence of the injury.
  • The medical costs, both past and anticipated, resulting from the injury.
  • The income you lost, both past and anticipated, due to the injury.
  • The circumstances under which the accident or malpractice occurred.

Cancer Misdiagnoses

A cancer misdiagnosis can occur in the three ways. Anyone who experiences any of the varying forms of cancer misdiagnosis has endured an unnecessary trauma. Usually, in these cases, a patient has already begun a course of treatment that is not appropriate for their condition. In some cases, the damage is already done. We can help file a claim against the negligent medical professionals who treated the victim.

Undiagnosed

This occurs when a doctor fails to detect the cancer present in a patient’s body. A patient may go extended periods of time without knowing about the cancer growing in their body. Cancer is best treated when it is detected early. Undiagnosed cancer can have catastrophic consequences.

Incorrectly Diagnosed

This occurs when a doctor diagnoses a patient with cancer when they are actually suffering from another condition. Depending on what condition they are actually suffering from, this can also have catastrophic consequences.

Wrongly Diagnosed

This occurs when a patient is diagnosed as having cancer when they are actually cancer free. As a result of a wrong diagnosis the patient most likely has suffered psychologically, financially, and physically. If they began cancer treatments, they also may have experienced negative side effects.

Emergency Room Errors

While patients typically arrive in the emergency room during extreme times of medical need, the high pressure and fast-paced environment, the doctors’ and nurses’ competence in an emergency room are held to a high standard to ensure only exceptional treatment is given.

When you are treated in the emergency room you may place trust in those experts caring for you. The state of Oklahoma has laws in place to hold medical professionals accountable. If you or a loved one has been injured due to errors made in the emergency room, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. We can assist you with getting the compensation you deserve. By filing a comprehensive claim that clearly outlines the injuries you suffered, an accomplished medical malpractice attorney may help you seek justice.

The Negligence of an ER Staff Member

A person may suffer at the hands of emergency room errors in a variety of ways. Their condition could worsen while waiting for treatment if the emergency room staff fails to prioritize the proper patient. An error may occur is if a patient is sent home without being admitted to the hospital for further testing and monitoring.

These errors may lead to serious illnesses, infections, and even death. By thoroughly outlining the timeline of a patient’s treatment, we may be able to help determine whether you have a viable case.

Defective Medication

Prescription drugs enable millions of Americans to enjoy longer, healthier, happier lives.  However, certain medications cause more harm than they prevent.  The World Health Organization reports that pharmaceutical companies spend about twice as much on marketing as they do on research and development, and in some cases, dangerous drugs are rushed to the market before their potential health hazards have been fully revealed.

How Are Prescription Drugs Regulated by the FDA? Can Approved Drugs Be Unsafe?

Prescription medications and over-the-counter (OTC) medications are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The process begins when a pharmaceutical company tests its new drug on animals.  If nothing goes seriously wrong at this stage, the company submits to the FDA an Investigational New Drug (IND) application.  Once the FDA approves the IND application, the company can start testing the drug on humans in clinical trials.

After testing is complete, the FDA reviews data from the clinical trials.  If the FDA determines that the drug’s benefits are greater than its risks, the drug will be approved.  After a drug has been approved, the FDA continues to monitor its use.  If any previously unknown health risks become apparent, which may happen after a period of months or even years, the FDA can either:

  • Require the company to alter the drug’s warning labels to include the new information.
  • Pull the drug from the market.

While regulation is critical, a stamp of approval from the FDA does not necessarily indicate that a drug is completely safe for use.  In fact, the FDA itself openly acknowledges various shortcomings in its system for regulating drugs for consumer safety.  To quote the FDA, “The number of people in a clinical trial of a new drug is usually small in comparison to the number of people who may take the drug if it reaches the market.  This makes it difficult to detect rare side effects.”  The FDA states that it is “impossible to anticipate all bad reactions,” noting further that “[a] drug’s effect on the patient may change over the course of years.”

Pressure from pharmaceutical companies, omissions of fact, and the downplaying of adverse effects all undermine the FDA’s efforts to keep prescription drugs safe.  Vioxx, a former Merck drug, is a fairly recent example of this very scenario.  Once hugely popular, Vioxx was recalled in 2004 after it came to light that clinical studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine omitted vital information about an increased risk of stroke or heart attack.  Tens of thousands of preventable deaths were eventually attributed to Vioxx.

Did You Suffer From Medical Complications After Being Prescribed a Dangerous or Defective Medication?

Nearly all medications have mild side effects, such as dry mouth or nausea.  While these sorts of risks are temporary and essentially harmless, other medications are associated with major long-term health hazards.  In some cases, the risks of taking the medication far outweigh the actual condition it treats.  For instance, Accutane can treat acne – but it comes at the price of potential liver damage.

The following risks and complications have all been documented by the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

Accutane (Isotretinoin)

  • Other Brands – Claravis, Myorisan, Sotret
  • Treats – Acne
  • Risks – Liver problems, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Depakote (Valproic Acid)

  • Other Brands – Depakene, Stavzor, Valproic
  • Treats – Migraines, seizures, bipolar disorder
  • Risks – Pancreatitis, liver problems

Paxil (Paroxetine)

  • Other Brands – Brisdelle, Pexeva
  • Treats – Anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Risks – Increased susceptibility to bleeding and bone fractures

Prednisone (Deltasone)

  • Treats – Arthritis, blood disorders, allergies, eye problems
  • Risks – Long-term use can result in cataracts, glaucoma, reduced bone density (osteoporosis), and delayed growth in children

Propecia (Finasteride)

  • Treats – Benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate), male hair loss
  • Risks – Increased risk of prostate cancer

Warfarin

  • Other Brands – Jantoven, Coumadin
  • Treats – Blood clots, complications of heart attack
  • Risks – Gangrene and skin necrosis

Xarelto (Rivaroxaban)

  • Treats – Blood clots, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis
  • Risks – Can cause nerve damage if the patient undergoes a spinal tap (lumbar puncture)

Yaz/Yasmin Birth Control

  • Treats – Prevents pregnancy
  • Risks – Pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs)

Zofran (Ondansetron)

  • Other Brands – Zuplenz
  • Treats – Nausea and vomiting caused by morning sickness
  • Risks – Birth defects

If you suffered adverse effects after taking a medication prescribed by your doctor, you should consult with us to see the options that may be available to you.  Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation.

Elements of Medical Negligence

Similar to a regular negligence claim, an injured patient must prove four elements in order to recover damages. Since every professional inherently owes their patient a duty of care, most medical malpractice cases depend on the plaintiff proving the presence of the other three elements of legal negligence:

  • The healthcare professional breached their duty of care
  • The breach directly caused injury to their patient
  • The patient suffered damages as a direct result of their doctor’s breach of duty

Compensable damages in a medical malpractice suit typically incorporate physical, emotional, and financial losses, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost earning potential.

Compensation in Oklahoma City Medical Malpractice Cases

Damages vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of injury and the circumstances of the person who was injured. Your settlement may cover medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, lost future earnings if there is a permanent disability or death, as well as benefits to provide lifetime care if necessary. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can give you an idea of what you might be expected to receive as compensation in medical malpractice cases. Also, your attorney will not charge you to take your case. If you win a settlement or judgment, they will receive a percentage of your settlement. If there is no settlement, there is no bill.

Unfortunately, very few people receive compensation in medical malpractice cases for serious catastrophic injuries or death resulting from medical malpractice. Why? Less than two percent of people who have suffered medical malpractice even try to obtain compensation and a smaller percentage than that actually receive it.

If you or someone you love has been victimized by medical malpractice, you should at the very least consult with a medical malpractice lawyer who is experienced in helping injured victims receive compensation in medical malpractice cases.

How Long is My Medical Malpractice Case Going to Take?

The standard attorney answer is that “it depends.” Here’s several reasons why it takes a while before a medical malpractice lawsuit is even filed:

  • We first need to obtain your medical records. Typically there are multiple hospitals and doctors offices. It generally takes about a month to obtain these. Some medical billing/records departments are really slow about it. These places often require 2-4 letters/faxes and followup phone calls to get them to send the records. A lot of medical providers use a third party billing service, so they’ll be different offices for us to request records from. Some of the services are prompt (they charge us to get the records so they have an incentive to get them to us), while others are cumbersome.
  • Once we get all the records together we review them. If we still thing you still have a viable case, we’ll then send the records to a medical expert. This is generally a doctor or a nurse. Oklahoma law requires that an Expert Affidavit be included in any medical malpractice case. We did this as a matter of course before the law went into affect though. It’s basic due diligence on our end to get a medical expert’s opinion. An expert will generally take several weeks to get back the file back to us. It’s typical for a doctor to charge $400/hr to review medical records. A medical malpractice file can easily take a doctor 10 hours to fully review and write an opinion on it.
  • If the doctor agrees with us on the case, we pursue the claim. Our next step is to contact the doctor and/or hospital involved in the malpractice by sending our letter of representation (“rep letter”). Note that two to four months could have easily passed from initially meeting with the client/attorney to even get to this point. The defendant’s attorney(s) will generally respond within a few weeks of our rep letter. Sometimes, albeit very infrequently, the opposing side is willing to talk settlement at this point. If settlement talks are not feasible, or they fall through, we file a lawsuit.

Medical Malpractice Damages

In a civil suit in Oklahoma for damages resulting from malpractice by a doctor, hospital or other health provider, there are four kinds of claims for damages that a plaintiff can make.

Economic damages. Economic damages include medical bills (past and future), lost income (past and future), and any other financial losses that have resulted from the malpractice. There is no limit or cap on the amount of economic damages a plaintiff can be awarded.

Noneconomic damages. In addition, a plaintiff may seek non-economic damages for such harms and losses as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium (loss of the benefits of having a spouse). Oklahoma’s current cap on noneconomic damages is $350,000.

However, there are exceptions to that rule which allow higher noneconomic damage awards. The exceptions are cases in which the defendant showed gross negligence, reckless disregard to the rights of others, fraudulence, or intentional, malicious conduct.

Punitive (exemplary) damages. In the most egregious cases of medical malpractice, a jury may award punitive damages in addition to the economic and noneconomic damages. The cap on punitive damages is $100,000 — or a punitive award equal to the amount of actual damages, if that amount is more than $100,000.

However, if the jury finds that intentional, malicious wrongdoing occurred, a punitive damage award of up to $500,000 is allowed. And if it is determined that the patient’s life was endangered by the malpractice, there is no cap on damages.

Wrongful. If a death resulted from the wrong actions of a medical provider, then the patient’s family and/or heirs are entitled to pursue a wrongful death claim (Oklahoma Statutes, Title 12, Section 1053). There is no cap on the award for a wrongful death claim.

Free Consultation with an Oklahoma City Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you or a loved one has received medical care that you believe constitutes malpractice or wrongful death, you need to know your legal rights. Contact Hasbrook and Hasbrook for a free consultation.