If you have suffered due to the negligence of a medical professional, you may be looking to sue for medical malpractice. You can file a lawsuit against any medical professional who provided you healthcare, including physicians, surgeons, nurses, nurse practitioners, anesthesiologists, anesthetists, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, hospitals, medical institutions, and other medical professionals. Medical providers are responsible for your wellbeing, so they are expected to perform their jobs competently. If they fail to do so, you can bring a medical malpractice claim to hold them accountable for any damages caused.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice in Nevada is defined as “the failure of a physician, hospital, or employee of a hospital to use reasonable care, skill, or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances.”
When you entrust your health and well-being to a healthcare provider, and he or she fails to provide adequate medical care, it qualifies as medical malpractice. To know what qualifies for a malpractice suit, you will have to consider whether the following can be proven:
- The medical provider must have a professional duty to the patient.
- The medical provider must breach his or her duty by providing services that fall below the standard of care, meaning the level of care that a similarly trained professional would have provided under the same circumstances.
- The patient must experience harm as a direct result of the medical provider’s breach of duty, and
- the harm must be compensable.
The key element of a medical malpractice lawsuit is negligence.
Special Considerations for Medical Malpractice Claims
If you have received unsatisfactory healthcare in Nevada, you may be contemplating a medical malpractice lawsuit. These cases can be quite complex, so it is beneficial to have a good understanding of the crucial state laws that you must abide by when filing medical malpractice claims in Nevada.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims in Nevada
In Nevada, there is a statute of limitations outlining the time limit for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. This law sets a strict time limit for going to court and starting the case. The time limit is three years from the date of injury. The law currently permits one year from the date the plaintiff discovers or should have discovered the injury through reasonable diligence, whichever comes first. However, there have been changes to Nevada medical malpractice claims, and from 2024 this will increase to two years. It is not sufficient to just file the initial complaint. You also need to provide an affidavit from a qualified medical witness who confirms that your case has merit.
If you miss this deadline and still try to file the lawsuit, the doctor, or healthcare facility you are trying to sue will file a motion to dismiss the case. The court will most likely grant this motion, resulting in the end of your lawsuit. In this circumstance, you will lose your right to seek compensation for any medical errors, no matter how severe they are. Therefore, it is crucial to pay attention to the statute of limitations that applies to your case.
Government Entities and Medical Malpractice Claims in Nevada
If a person is injured due to the actions of the state government or a government employee, the person can seek compensation from the state. However, he or she will need to prove that the state or its employee caused the injury. This usually involves demonstrating negligence on the part of the responsible party.
The procedure for filing such a claim is outlined in the Nevada State Board of Examiners’ Tort Claims Act. The injured person must fill out and submit a signed claim to the board to start the process.
Certain information must be contained in the written claim:
- The amount of compensation sought for damages should be clearly stated.
- A detailed description of the incident that led to the injury
- The injured party should explain why he or she believes the state is liable for the damages.
- When filing a claim, the injured person should provide copies of medical reports from all physicians who treated or examined him or her.
There is a tort claim form available on the website of the Department of Risk Management.
The attorney general’s office will review your claim and decide whether to approve or deny it. If your claim is approved, the state will pay for any losses you have incurred. However, if your claim is denied, you have the option to file a civil lawsuit in a Nevada court and seek damages.
Any claim brought against the state of Nevada must be filed within two years of the date of injury. Failure to file within this time frame will result in rejection by the state and the courts. Additionally, damages in claims against the state government are limited to $100,000 per claim.
Who Can You Sue for Medical Malpractice in Nevada?
Medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and nursing aids, along with their employers, may be held responsible for providing healthcare.
Physicians and Surgeons
Medical errors can happen at any stage of the process, including during diagnosis, treatment, or aftercare of an injury or illness. In case of medical malpractice, the doctor or surgeon who primarily treats the patient is usually the first person who can be sued.
Medical malpractice can cause severe injuries and lead to future medical bills, loss of work, and pain and suffering. This serious and costly nationwide issue should be addressed immediately. Some medical errors that doctors may commit that can cause harm include misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, or prescription of incorrect medication or dosage.
Can you sue for a surgical error? You can if your surgeon has committed a medical malpractice surgical error. Common surgical errors leading to lawsuits include the performance of unnecessary surgery, leaving foreign objects inside the patient’s body, use of defective medical devices for surgery, or operating on the wrong part of the body.
Generally, medical doctors are held to the standard of care of a “reasonable doctor” operating in the same geographical area, and under similar circumstances, as the treating physician. However, specialists such as obstetricians, gynecologists, cardiologists, and orthopedists are usually held to a national standard of care in medical malpractice cases.
Nurses and Nurse Practitioners
It is possible for nurses to be included in medical malpractice lawsuits along with other medical professionals. According to a review of medical malpractice cases, nurses are often accused of failing to monitor patients (45%), making medication mistakes (18%), causing patient falls (14%), and causing pressure injuries (10%).
When a nurse fails to properly monitor a patient, it leads to death in almost half of the cases. Medication errors are also serious, with almost 40% of malpractice cases involving drug administration errors.
If a nurse’s actions breach the “standard of care,” he or she did something that a reasonable nurse in the same situation would not have done. If the patient is harmed as a result, the nurse may be liable for malpractice. The incident must have occurred within the last two or three years, as the statute of limitations limits the time frame for filing a lawsuit after malpractice occurs.
However, these are just general guidelines, and if you believe a nurse has harmed you, it is best to consult with a medical malpractice lawyer.
Instances of nurse negligence may include inadequate communication with the medical team, inaccurate or incomplete charting of patient health history or treatment plans, failure to monitor patients, misuse of equipment, or incorrect administration of medication.
Anesthesia is a medication that is used to prevent patients from feeling pain during surgical or medical procedures. The medication is administered by an anesthesiologist and can come in several variations, from localized numbing to induced unconsciousness.
However, there is always a level of risk associated with anesthesia. Anesthesia errors can cause various complications, ranging from minor side effects such as nausea, vomiting, or post-operative pain to serious long-term injuries or even death. If these complications are caused by the negligence of an anesthesiologist or other medical professional, they could be considered malpractice.
Anesthesia mistakes can occur before, during, or after surgery. Preoperative mistakes include failing to educate the patient about the possible risks of the procedure, not reviewing their medical history for potential complications, and not providing them with preoperative instructions (such as not allowing them to eat or drink for a certain number of hours prior to surgery).
Mistakes during surgery include delaying the administration of anesthesia, administering too much or too little anesthesia, administering the wrong type of anesthesia, failing to monitor the patient’s vital signs, improperly inserting the intubation tube, using faulty equipment, failing to identify or treat developing complications, and having a member of the surgical team under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the procedure.
Postoperative mistakes include leaving a patient sedated for too long, leaving an anesthetized patient unattended, and failing to provide proper post-operative instructions.
Anesthesia-related errors can lead to a range of complications and injuries, some of which are temporary and minor, while others may be severe, serious, and permanent.
Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy malpractice occurs when a pharmacist makes a mistake due to carelessness and causes harm to a patient. Administering wrong prescriptions is an example of such carelessness, which can lead to major injuries and death. You have the right to hold a pharmacist accountable for acting negligently.
Dispensing the wrong medication is the most common pharmacy error. This can happen due to similar drug names or mixed-up prescriptions.
Pharmacists may not provide adequate instructions. A pharmacist must check drug labels to avoid missing instructions or placing incorrect ones on labels. Proper instructions are important to prevent complications.
Pharmacists may sometimes provide the wrong dosage due to mathematical or packaging errors. This can lead to severe side effects or even death. Pharmacists must review with patients and their medications to avoid dangerous interactions. Pharmacists should be knowledgeable about potential allergies.
Hospitals and Medical Institutions
Employers can be held responsible for the negligent actions of their employees under the principle of vicarious liability. This applies only if the act was carried out within the scope of the employee’s job.
An employer can be held liable for an employee’s negligence if the following conditions are met:
- The employee was on the job when the injury occurred.
- The injury was caused by an activity that the employee was hired to perform.
- The employer benefited from the activity that the employee was performing at the time of the injury.
Hospitals may be held accountable for medical malpractice caused by their doctors during treatment or surgery. This is because treating patients and performing surgeries are activities that usually fall within a doctor’s scope of employment.
Doctors who run clinics, attending physicians, and private medical practices can also be held accountable for the negligence of their staff. Likewise, private medical practices may also be held liable for the negligence of their partners and associates.
Sometimes medical professionals in a hospital setting, such as ER physicians, are independent contractors, and are not employees of the hospital, but of a clinic or organization that assigns them to hospitals. In such cases, the independent contractor, rather than the hospital, will be held liable for medical errors.
Hospitals and other medical institutions may also be held liable if they fail to maintain adequate staffing levels, neglect staff training, or provide faulty medical equipment, resulting in the actions of their doctors and nurses.
Other Medical Professionals
Medical malpractice or negligence can occur at any healthcare facility and by any healthcare provider. This can include physical therapists, nursing home administrators, dietitians, dermatologists, psychiatrists, dentists, and more. If you have suffered harm due to negligence by a healthcare professional and can prove the four elements of medical malpractice, you may be able to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for damages.