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While the underlying concept of medical malpractice remains consistent, each state has its own laws regarding medical malpractice lawsuits, including strict time limits for filing and, in Georgia, an elevated standard of proof for emergency room malpractice. Medical malpractice is also referred to as medical negligence.
Understanding Georgia Medical Malpractice
It is normal to blame the doctor for a poor medical outcome or the death of a loved one, but modern medicine can only do so much and a poor outcome does not necessarily mean that malpractice was involved.
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or any type of health care professional or institution falls beneath the accepted minimum standard of care and, as a result, causes harm.
Georgia medical malpractice laws are in flux. In 2005, a cap was placed on non-economic damages, but in 2010, the cap was ruled unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court. However, it is possible that the cap will be reinstated as an amendment to the state constitution or that an entirely different medical malpractice system will replace Georgia’s medical malpractice laws in the future.
Types and Examples of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice includes both taking the wrong action and failure to take an action. Examples of medical malpractice include:
- Medication error
- Surgical mistake
- Anesthesia error
- Emergency room malpractice
- Failure to obtain informed consent
- Unsanitary condition leading to nosocomial infection (hospital-borne illness)
- Inappropriate treatment based on patient history
- Inappropriate treatment for the condition
- Failure to recommend tests or treatment
- Continuing an ineffective treatment
- Failure to diagnose, delayed diagnosis, or misdiagnosis of a serious illness or health event such as cancer, heart attack, or meningitis
- Birth injury
- Nursing home malpractice
- Dental malpractice
- Psychiatric malpractice
- Cosmetic surgery malpractice
- Patient abandonment
Who can be Held Responsible for Georgia Medical Malpractice
It is important for patients to know that physicians and surgeons are not the only health care professionals who can be held responsible for medical negligence. Any type of health care practitioner can be held responsible, and so can health care facilities and institutions.
Responsible parties in medical malpractice can include:
- Nurse practitioners
- Surgical staff
- Emergency medical technicians (EMTs)
- Cosmetic surgeons
- Lab technicians
- Out-patient facilities
- Urgent care facilities
- Medical laboratories
- Psychiatric hospitals
- Rehabilitation centers
Georgia Medical Malpractice Time Limits
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Georgia is two years from the date of injury or death. The statute of repose gives you no more than five years after the date that the malpractice occurred.
There are certain exceptions and circumstances which can give you more time, including injury or death is caused by a foreign object left inside the body during surgery, and injuries to minor children and mentally retarded persons.