The Duties of Healthcare Professionals in Washington, D.C.

Healthcare professionals have a special duty to their patients. Because healthcare professionals receive specialized training and are experienced in their field, they are expected to meet certain standards when treating patients. If a healthcare professional fails to meet those standards, and a patient suffers an injury, the healthcare professional may be liable for medical negligence. In a D.C. medical malpractice case, a plaintiff must prove the applicable standard of care that the defendant was required to meet, that the defendant failed to meet the standard of care, and that the defendant’s failure caused the plaintiff’s injury.

Washington, D.C. courts have stated that while healthcare professionals are not expected to be perfect, they may be liable when their conduct falls below the standard of care that the professional must meet. In order to establish the applicable standard of care, expert testimony is usually required, because the subject often is not within an average person’s common knowledge. In general, a Washington, D.C. medical malpractice case must be filed within three years of the date of injury, or when the plaintiff should have become aware of the injury through the exercise of reasonable due diligence.

In a recent medical malpractice case before a state appeals court, the plaintiff suffered a brain infection at a hospital after undergoing surgery to remove a cyst. The infection resulted in permanent neurological injuries. The plaintiff sued the hospital, claiming that the center’s nurses and other providers were negligent in failing to give her an antibiotic before surgery.

The plaintiff was supposed to be given the antibiotic within the hour before her surgery. The medicine was reported as having been administered by a nurse anesthetist at 12:40 p.m., but there was a discrepancy in the medical records about whether the surgery began at 12:05 p.m. or 1:05 p.m. The nurse in charge of documenting the procedure later said that she made a mistake by recording that the procedure started at 12:05 p.m., and that the procedure actually began at 1:05 p.m. The court found that there was a genuine factual dispute as to whether the antibiotic was administered within one hour before surgery. The court further found that although the medical center did not employ the nurse anesthetist whose job it was to deliver the antibiotic, the other nurses in the room may have had a duty to ensure that the patient received the medicine before the surgery.

Contact a D.C. Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, contact the Washington, D.C. medical malpractice law firm of Lebowitz and Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers. Our medical malpractice lawyers have over two decades of experience representing victims of medical malpractice throughout the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. region. We will fight your rights and help you pursue the compensation that you need to recover from a devastating and painful medical mistake or other careless act. We do not recover any fees unless we obtain a settlement or a judgment in your favor. Call us at (800) 654-1949 or contact us online today.

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