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What Compensation Is Available for Medical Malpractice in Cleveland?

Earlier this year, University Hospitals of Cleveland was featured in the national news, but not in a good way. University Hospitals transplanted a kidney into the wrong patient. Two patients had been waiting for a kidney. Patient one received the kidney that was intended for patient two.

The good news is that patient one turned out to be compatible with the kidney and so far, just a few months later, is apparently doing fine. The bad news is that the patient for whom the kidney was intended remained on dialysis and continued the wait for a new kidney.

In 1995, a doctor operating in a Florida hospital amputated the wrong leg of a man with diabetes. This tragic error caused the man to have to undergo a second operation to remove the diseased leg. Now, instead of needing one prosthesis, he needed two. This inspired hospitals across the country and even the world to institute safety measures to make sure something like this would never happen again.

But in June 2021, a hospital in Austria did it again. The doctor amputated the wrong leg of an elderly gentleman. The patient had to undergo a second operation to amputate the diseased leg. Hospital officials stated the tragic mistake was the result of “a sequence of unfortunate circumstances.”

What is Considered Medical Malpractice in Ohio?

It seems clear that giving the wrong patient a kidney or amputating the wrong leg is malpractice, but what about other types of care that may seem not to be up to par? In order to win your medical malpractice claim in Ohio, you must prove:

  • You had a relationship with the healthcare providers such that they had a duty to provide you with proper medical care.
  • The health care provider breached that duty by providing you with care that fell below the standard of care that is generally acceptable in the community, and that would be provided by a similar healthcare practitioner to a patient suffering from the same ailment as you, the patient who claims to have been harmed.
  • The healthcare providers whose care fell below the acceptable standard is what caused you harm.
  • You suffered damages as a result of that harm.

Any health care provider can be included in the claim, whether doctor, nurse, medical assistant, or the hospital.

Some Types of Medical Malpractice

Not every medical error is malpractice. Some examples of errors that do rise to the level of malpractice include:

  • Surgeons who operate on the wrong body part or who operate on the wrong patient, or who leave a surgical tool or sponge inside the patient.
  • Medication errors. The wrong medicine given, the wrong dose of the right medicine given, poor instructions given causing the patient to receive the wrong dose, incorrect administration like giving a medication intravenously (IV) when it should be given intramuscularly (IM).
  • Failure to diagnose a serious disease. This can be so serious that a person may end up with a terminal disease that could have been treated and cured.
  • Making the wrong diagnosis. This can cause emotional distress. For example, one woman was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy only to discover she did not have cancer. The happy news of no cancer was tempered with the sad realization that the disfiguring surgery was unnecessary.
  • Failure to obtain informed consent from the patient. A patient may discover an unexpected procedure was performed for which consent was not given.

What Compensatory Damages Are Available for Medical Malpractice in Cleveland

There is often no way that you can go back to the way you were before the medical malpractice occurred. Instead, you can be compensated for the harm that was caused by the healthcare provider’s medical malpractice,

Ohio law provides for you to be compensated for your damages. There are two types of damages: economic and noneconomic.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are those damages that are objective and verifiable. They can be calculated by tallying up receipts or by the projection of future costs. Examples of compensation for your economic damages include:

  • All your medical bills. This includes hospital bills, ambulance fees, costs of rehabilitation, and more. You will receive compensation for your current bills and also for those medical costs that you are projected to incur in the future as a result of your injury.
  • Lost wages. Both your current loss and what you are expected to lose in the future.
  • Cost of prescription drugs.
  • Cost of necessary medical equipment.

Ohio does not place a cap on the amount of compensatory damages which you may collect.

Non-economic Damages

This category is for damages that cannot be mathematically calculated. For example, you can receive compensation for your pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium, for which there is no number that can be used to adequately calculate your damages.

Ohio puts a cap on non-economic damages. You can not receive more than $250,000 or three times the amount of your compensatory damages, whichever amount is greater. Even then, you cannot collect more than $350,000 unless the damage included the loss of a limb or resulted in a severe deformity. But again, there is a cap on those damages of $500,000.

Punitive Damages

Rarely, punitive damages will be imposed. These are designed to punish the person who caused you damage. These may be imposed if the conduct of the healthcare professional is considered to be absolutely egregious. This means the conduct was reckless or intentional. If punitive damages are imposed, there is a cap of two times the compensatory damages.

Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice

No matter how seriously you were injured, nor how severely and permanently you were damaged, you will collect nothing if you let the statute of limitations run out before you file your claim. The statute of limitations refers to the time you have to file a claim against the health care provider after the incident that caused you harm.

In Ohio, a patient must file the claim within one year of discovering the injury. For example, if you discover your broken bone has not healed correctly because the doctor did not apply the correct standard of care when treating it, you have one year from the date you discovered or should have discovered, your problem was caused by your doctor’s negligence.

On the downside, the maximum time you have to file your suit is four years after the doctor’s action or inaction that harmed you, even if you have not yet discovered the harm. There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if a foreign object was left in your body and caused you harm, you can file your claim for damages within one year of the date you discovered it, even if four years have passed since the incident.

Consult an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you believe you are the victim of medical malpractice and suffered damages or someone you love died because of medical malpractice, contact us at The Cochran Firm Cleveland. One of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys will offer you a free consultation to review the facts of your case and advise you on how to proceed.

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