Baltimore Medical Malpractice By Provider Type

Malpractice Guide By Provider Type

Different healthcare professionals have different responsibilities, and can cause different kinds of injuries. Use this guide to learn about the specifics for each provider.

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Who is Responsible for Medical Malpractice?

Medical researchers estimate that by age 65, 75% of physicians in low-risk specialties and 99% of physicians in high-risk specialties will have faced a lawsuit for medical negligence. Most healthcare professionals strive to provide the best care to their patients, but still many people are injured each year as the result of medical negligence. Medical negligence remains one of the leading causes of death in the United States. In fact, according to the prestigious Journal of Patient Safety as many as 440,000.00 Americans die every single year from preventable medical errors. That is over 1.2 million preventable deaths occurring every three years from avoidable medical mistakes.

Medical malpractice cases arise when healthcare professionals fail to provide proper care and treatment to their patients due to negligence, incompetence, lack of communication or simple error. Studies have found that about 7.4% of physicians experienced a medical malpractice claim each year.

For many it may be difficult to know if a medical error occurred during your medical care without first understanding what these errors are. Patients who have a thorough understanding of both the required responsibility and qualifications of their healthcare professionals, will be more knowledgeable to help avoid being a victim of a medical mistake and be able to better assess when an error occurred in their or a loved ones treatment.

This overview will discuss topics such as: where medical malpractice occurs, what kind qualifications doctors need, and who besides the doctor can be held liable for medical malpractice.

Understanding Who Can Commit Medical Malpractice 

The following pages will help patients better understand the roles of many healthcare professionals. These pages will provide information about a number of healthcare professionals and will explore:

  • Job titles
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  • Job descriptions
  • Educational requirements
  • Licensing requirements
  • Insurance coverage
  • Where they work
  • How they get paid
  • How they help people
  • Common forms of medical negligence in each specialty

By arming yourself with knowledge, patients will be able to better recognize medical malpractice around them, and may even be able to help healthcare professionals avoid negligence. It is important that you be an advocate for your own care and question what is being done and why it is being done. Many times patients with simple questions can alert the health care providers to a mistake that it about to be made. Indeed, many forms of medical negligence are the result of simple errors that lead to catastrophic problems.

Failing to communicate test results to a patient's primary care physician, failing to recommend a specialist when a patient's problem diverges from the doctor's area of practice and giving a patient the wrong medication are all mistakes that are easily avoidable but are not easily remedied once they occur. Missing test results can send patients down the wrong path to a proper diagnosis, failing to consult with a specialist can result in a misdiagnosis or incorrect treatment, and medication errors can cause serious health issues.

Our guide to Who's Who in Health Care Malpractice will help patients to better understand the type of care they are receiving. By doing good research, asking the right questions, and understanding the roles of the healthcare professionals, you will be able to make better medical choices for yourself and might be able to protect yourself against some forms of medical negligence.

Where Does Medical Malpractice Occur?

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Statistics from the National Practitioner Data Bank show that in the decade between 2004 and 2014 there were 154,621 patients who received medical malpractice payments as compensation for preventable medical mistakes in the United States. 3,219 of those were Maryland residents.

So which doctors are most likely to end up in malpractice cases? What areas of medicine are the most dangerous? Many different studies attempt to answer these questions.

A study by the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed insurance data from over 40,000 physicians in the United States between 1991 and 2005. The study focused on closed malpractice claims that resulted in a lawsuit and ranked the percentage of malpractice claims by specialty type:

  1. Neurosurgery 19.1%
  2. Thoracic-cardiovascular surgery 18.9 %
  3. General Surgery 15.3 %
  4. Family Medicine 5.2%
  5. Pediatrics 3.1 %
  6. Psychiatry 2.6 %

Doctors who focused on high-risk procedures faced the most medical malpractice cases.

Another 2015 study by Medscape of over 4,000 primary care physicians and specialists ranked the percentage of doctors in different specialties that had faced at least one malpractice case:

  1. OB/GYN 85%
  2. Surgery 83%
  3. Oethopedics 79%
  4. Radiology 72%
  5. Anesthesiology 58%
  6. IM/FM 46%
  7. Oncology 34%

Studies of previous malpractice claims also show us what types of claims occur the most. Negligent treatment from a health care professional most often comes in the form of:

  • Failure to diagnose 31%
  • Patent suffered abnormal injury 31%
  • Failure to treat 12%
  • Poor documentation of patient instruction and education 4%
  • Errors in medication administration 4%
  • Failure to follow safety procedures 3%
  • Improperly obtaining/lack of informed consent 3%

What Can I Do?

The burden of preventing medical negligence does not fall on the patient, but the health care team treating the patient. Patients do not generally have medical training and they must instead rely solely on their doctors and hospitals to provide them with the proper information and advice so the patient may make an informed decision. Patients who are properly informed of the risks and the physician responsibilities can better understand when negligent care may have caused them an avoidable injury.

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Some simple steps patients can take include:

Get a second opiniongetting a second option from another doctor before beginning a major procedure or when you are questioning your diagnosis can save your life and a lot of suffering. Doctors are giving you opinions and opinions can differ between equally trained health care providers. It is always important to get several opinions before undergoing any medical procedure.

Take a friend or family member to your appointments—sometimes a second pair of eyes will notice things you did not. Also, if later the medical documentation of an adverse event does not accurately reflect what was told to the patient a second person attesting to what really did occur can help prove the truth.

Document your visits and treatment plans—simple errors in documentation and communication between your healthcare professionals can cause major problems.

Medical professionals try to provide excellent care to their patients, but mistakes and errors in judgment result in injuries for their patients. Studies have shown that 70% of physicians report that they were surprised they were being sued for malpractice. Remaining alert may sometimes help patients notice medical errors before the problem becomes irreversible.

Certification Matters In Medical Malpractice Cases

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It is important to know what services your doctor is able to provide, and what qualifications your doctor needs to provide certain services. Medical specialists may be held to a different standard of care than non-specialists. Use the menu on the side or bottom of this page to find the relevant area of specialization in your case.

Some medical specialties are regulated by the states and not nationally, so patients should know what their state-specific qualifications are.

Generally, patients should look for:

State license—Doctors must have a state license to practice medicine in any state. This license will allow the doctor to perform any kind of medicine, so this alone is not enough for specialty doctors.

Board certification— A doctor can know only about podiatry, but with a state license that doctor could technically help deliver babies or perform heart surgery. Board certifications show what doctors are specifically trained to do. Look up board certification requirements with the American Board of Medical Specialties here.

Teaching and publishing—Doctors are not required to teach, and not all good doctors do teach. Teaching does show that a doctor is interacting with new technologies and medical techniques. A doctor who is active in universities or in medical journals may have a better knowledge about their specialty than doctors who are not involved in either.

It matters that your healthcare professional is board certified and is properly licensed. To learn more about your state, look up the state board qualifications or click here.

There are many services online that allow patients to rate their doctors so potential new patients can research their physicians. RateMDs and Zoc Doc are two such services.

Other Responsible Medical Professionals Who Can Commit Malpractice

Malpractice is not limited to doctors. Health care facilities, pharmaceutical companies, and other entities can also be held responsible for malpractice claims.

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Hospitals can be held responsible either for direct negligence or through vicarious liability. Direct negligence by the hospital can refer to actions such as failing to investigate a doctors questionable training or background, or failing to provide adequate numbers of healthcare professionals such as nurses to safely care for its patients. In one case, a nurse committed malpractice by reusing a syringe 67 times for flu shots.

Hospitals can also be sued for vicarious liability when harm was caused by a healthcare professional who was employed by the hospital and was acting within their “scope of employment.” This protects patients who were harmed by a hospital but do not know by whom. In these cases, the hospital itself can be held responsible.

Pharmaceutical companies can also be held liable for medical malpractice cases. If pharmaceutical companies withhold potentially harmful information from healthcare professionals that would make a drug “unreasonably dangerous”, patients can directly sue the drug makers. Drug manufacturers must research the side effects of drugs before putting them on the market, so the initial burden lies with them. It is the pharmaceutical companies' responsibility to withhold dangerous drugs or to report unusual side effects to the healthcare professionals that will prescribe them. One of many examples of this surrounds he chemotherapy drug Taxotere, which is the subject of ongoing multidistrict litigation.

Compensation For Medical Malpractice In Maryland

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Studies of closed medical malpractice cases found that the cases that most often received compensation involved errors in care by medical professionals that caused severe injuries. Claims that involved errors but not serious or permanent injuries, referred to as medical malpractice damages, were much less likely to result in compensation. In addition, some states impose medical malpractice damage caps to limit the amounts that can be collected.

Medical Malpractice Guide By Specialty

Read through our guides about different medical specialties to learn more about the requirements for the doctors who practice in those fields.

  • General and Family Practitioner Malpractice: A general practitioner (GP) or (PCP) is a type of doctor who does not specialize in one field of medicine and usually provides routine, primary care healthcare.
  • Internal Medicine Doctor Malpractice: An internist, or doctor of internal medicine, is a doctor who treats diseases, infections, and other internal medical conditions and disorders.
  • Emergency Room Physician Malpractice: Emergency room doctors, or ER doctors, provide emergency care to patients in acute and sometimes life-threatening situations or patients whose injuries are too severe to wait to see a primary care physician.
  • Hospitalist Malpractice: Hospitalists are doctors who are stationed in the hospital and focus on the care of hospitalized patients.
  • Palliative Care Specialist Malpractice: Palliative care specialists focus on relieving the symptoms of patients with serious or terminal illnesses.
  • Pediatrician Malpractice: Pediatricians are doctors who provide general preventative health and medical care to infants, children, and teens.
  • Neonatologist Malpractice: Neonatologists are specialty pediatricians that care for newborn babies, particularly for newborns that are premature, underweight, or face another complex condition.
  • Intensive Care Specialist Malpractice: Intensive care specialists, also known as critical care specialists or intensivists, are doctors who treat patients with a variety of critical and life-threatening conditions.
  • Geriatrician Malpractice: Geriatricians, or geriatric physicians, provide care and treatment for conditions affecting the elderly.
  • Anesthesiologist Malpractice: Anesthesiologists are doctors who administer sedation and anesthesia to prevent pain and discomfort in patients undergoing invasive medical procedures.
  • General Surgeon Malpractice: General surgeons are doctors who specialize in surgical operations for a variety of medical conditions.
  • Pediatric Cardiologist Malpractice: Pediatric cardiologists are specialty cardiologists who treat heart diseases and vascular problems in children of all ages from fetuses to teenagers.
  • Endocrinologist Malpractice: Endocrinologists are doctors who specialize in treating disorders of the glandular system including the pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, ovaries, testes, and pancreas.
  • Urologist Malpractice: Urologists are doctors who treat diseases of the male and female urinary tract and of the male reproductive organs.
  • Gastroenterologist Malpractice: Gastroenterologists, or GI doctors, are doctors who treat conditions of the digestive tract, also called the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
  • Pathologist Malpractice: Pathologists are doctors who study the tissue and fluids of the body to help diagnose disease.
  • Allergist Malpractice: An allergist, or immunologist, is a doctor that specializes in caring for allergies and disorders of the immune system.
  • Medical Oncologist Malpractice: Medical oncologists are doctors that specialize in the diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of cancers.
  • Andrologist Malpractice: Andrologists are doctors that treat a range of issues related to the male reproductive system and urology organs, specifically relating to fertility, sexual health, and hormonal problems.
  • Colorectal Surgeon Malpractice: A colorectal surgeon, sometimes called a proctologist, is a doctor that treats diseases of the intestinal tract, colon, rectum, and anal canal.
  • Nephrologist Malpractice: Nephrologists are doctors that specialize in treating pediatric and adult diseases and conditions of the kidneys.
  • Hepatologist Malpractice: Hepatologists are doctors that treat diseases and conditions of the liver and diseases of other gastrointestinal organs related to the liver like the gallbladder, pancreas and bile ducts.
  • Cardiologist Malpractice: Cardiologists are doctors that specialize in diagnosing, treating, and preventing conditions of the cardiovascular system including the heart and the body's blood vessels.
  • Ophthalmologist Malpractice: Ophthalmologists are doctors that treat conditions in the eyes and surrounding anatomy.
  • Otolaryngologists/ ENT Malpractice: Otolaryngologists are doctors that treat conditions in the ears, nose, and throat along with conditions in the head and neck. They are sometimes referred to as ENT (ears, nose, throat) doctors.
  • Audiologist Malpractice: An audiologist is a doctor who evaluates, diagnoses, treats, and manages hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders in children as well as adults.
  • Podiatrist Malpractice: Podiatrists are doctors that treat conditions of the feet, ankle, lower legs, and lower back.
  • Rheumatologist Malpractice: A rheumatologist is a doctor that specializes in treating conditions of the joints, muscles, tissues, bones, and internal organs.
  • Orthopedic Surgeon Malpractice: Orthopedic surgeons are doctors that specialize in treating conditions of the musculoskeletal system, including the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and skin.
  • Neurologist Malpractice: Neurologists are specialty doctors that diagnose and treat conditions of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system.
  • Neurosurgeon Malpractice: Neurosurgeons are doctors that diagnose and treat conditions of the nervous system, spine, and brain.
  • Hematologist Malpractice: A hematologist is a doctor who specializes in the study of blood, blood-forming organs and blood diseases.
  • Pulmonologist Malpractice: Pulmonologists are doctors that specialize in the diagnosis and treating of respiratory conditions including cancer, asthma, pneumonia, and bronchitis.
  • Surgical Oncologist Malpractice: Surgical oncologists are doctors that specialize in the surgical treatment of cancers and other malignant diseases.
  • Radiation Oncologist Malpractice: A radiation oncologist is part of the oncology family (surgical, medical, radiation) and is a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with radiation.
  • Fertility Specialist Malpractice: Fertility specialists, sometimes known as reproductive specialists or as specific doctors such as reproductive endocrinologists, are doctors who treat infertility in men and women and help couples conceive.
  • Dermatologist Malpractice: A dermatologist is a doctor who is trained to evaluate and treat both children and adults with disorders that may be either benign or malignant.
  • OB/GYN Malpractice: An OB/GYN, or an obstetrician and gynecologist, is a doctor that specializes in the care for women's reproductive health and pregnancy along with many other conditions that affect women.
  • Plastic Surgeon Malpractice: Plastic surgeons are doctors that perform cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries on patients.
  • Dental Malpractice: Dentists are doctors who promote oral health and work to prevent and diagnose oral diseases.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Malpractice: Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are dentists who specialize in treating a variety of conditions of the teeth, mouth, jaw, and face including defects, injuries, and diseases.
  • Periodontist Malpractice: Periodontists are specialty dentists that focus on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth.
  • Dental Anesthesiologist Malpractice: A dental anesthesiologist is a dental specialist who is trained in patient pain management.
  • General Psychiatrist Malpractice: Psychiatrists are doctors that diagnose, treat, and prevent emotional, mental and behavioral disorders.
  • Radiologist Malpractice: Radiologists are doctors that specialize in obtaining and assessing medical images to diagnose and treat health conditions.
  • Pharmacist Malpractice: Pharmacists are health care specialists responsible for preparing and dispensing medications to patients.
  • Neuropsychologist Malpractice: Neuropsychologists are doctors that are specially trained to assess and treat conditions that relate to the normal functioning of the nervous system, specifically the brain.
  • Geriatric Psychiatrist Malpractice: A geriatric psychiatrist is a doctor that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders which may occur in older adults.
  • Chiropractor Malpractice: Chiropractors are doctors that specialize in diagnosing, treating, and preventing conditions of the neuromusculoskeletal system including the bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
  • Acupuncturist Malpractice: Acupuncturists practice the traditional Chinese medical art of acupuncture and insert thin needles into specific points on the body to modify physiological functions
  • Physical Therapist Malpractice: A physical therapist is a health care professional who helps patients with managing and improving their pain and lack of mobility within their joints and limbs.

Do You Have A Medical Malpractice Case?

If you or a loved one believe that you have suffered from a serious injury as a result of medical negligence, we are happy to discuss your case with you and help you determine whether you are entitled to collect damages.Get started by scheduling a free consultation and to learn more about your legal options.

Let Us Help

If someone you are close to has been seriously injured or worse, you are naturally devastated not only by what has happened, but by the effect that the injury or loss has had on you and your family. At a time when you're vulnerable, traumatized and emotionally exhausted, you need a team that will support you through the often complex process that lies ahead.

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