When New Mexico residents become ill or injured, they go to see their doctor and/or enter a hospital. They expect their doctor to properly diagnose their illness or injury and treat it appropriately. They expect all the health care professionals with whom they come into contact to be knowledgeable, well trained and highly competent in their specific fields and duties. The last thing they expect is that professionals will act in a negligent manner that results in the patient dying from his or her illness or injury.
As The Washington Post reports, however, medical errors account for up to 251,000 deaths each year in the United States, making them the third leading cause of death. When a patient dies because of a medical error, often his or her family will file a wrongful death action against the doctor(s), hospital and other health care professionals who were part of the deceased patient’s medical team.
Types of medical errors
Bsfdea.com explains that medical errors leading to wrongful death usually involve a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, one or more emergency room errors, or one or more surgical errors. Such negligence and/or carelessness is considered to be medical malpractice and is grounds for a wrongful death action when the patient dies.
Wrongful death elements
To be successful in a wrongful death suit, plaintiffs generally need to prove the following four things:
- The defendant(s) committed a preventable medical error that caused the death of the decedent.
- The plaintiff(s) had a close family relationship with the decedent.
- The plaintiff(s) suffered specific compensable damages because of the decedent’s death.
- The defendant(s) owe the plaintiff(s) compensation for their damages associated with the decedent’s death.
A death in the family is always a sad event. When the death results from a preventable medical error, it is particularly devastating. Winning a wrongful death suit cannot bring the loved one back, but can help the family recover from their financial difficulties and give them a sense of closure.