Medical malpractice is a legal term, used to refer to injuries or illness that medical professionals may cause to patients by failing to comport with the standards expected of the medical profession. Medical malpractice can occur in a wide variety of different circumstances, sometimes arising as a result of a doctor’s failure to act and in other situations occurring because of careless errors or recklessness. Regardless of the cause, however, the victims of medical malpractice have a right to pursue compensation from those responsible for their damages through a malpractice lawsuit.
Determining liability for malpractice can sometimes be more complex than it may initially appear, however. Particularly when malpractice occurs at large medical institutions, such as hospitals, there is often a distinct possibility that more than one party contributed to the events resulting in an instance of malpractice. An examination of a specific case can help to illustrate the remarkable complexity of some medical malpractice cases.
The actor Dennis Quaid and his wife Kimberly were the proud parents of twins in November of 2007. However, when their children developed a staph infection, the hospital at which the twins had been delivered accidentally gave the two children an anti-coagulant medication several hundred times stronger than the medication which they were supposed to be administered. As a result, the children were rendered unable to clot blood, meaning that even a slight cut or other injury could prove fatal. For several days, the children’s lives were in imminent danger, after which the effects of the medication began to wear off and the threat gradually subsided.
Quaid and his wife, with the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney, filed a suit against both the hospital responsible for the medication error and the company which manufactured the medication. The errors on the part of the hospital were self-evident, if largely understandable, and a settlement was soon reached.
However, the lawsuit against the medication’s manufacturer, Baxter Healthcare, is more complicated. The hospital’s mistake, according to some observers, was not the first time this type of problem had occurred with this particular medication. In fact, the anti-coagulant which had been improperly administered to the Quaids’ twins had been associated with several other instances of medical malpractice, resulting in several cases of infant mortality. The problem, according to the suit, arose from the remarkable similarity between the packaging of different versions of the medication produced by Baxter Healthcare. The suit is currently still pending.
As this case should demonstrate, medical malpractice can and often does occur as the result of errors and mistakes on the parts of several different actors. In these circumstances, liability may be assessed to several groups.