When A Loved One Dies From A Hospital's Or Doctor's Error

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Not every patient who goes into a hospital will survive his or her medical crisis. That's just an unfortunate reality.

However, just as unfortunate is the reality that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Only cancer and heart disease cause more annual deaths. Researchers at Johns Hopkins estimate that around 250,000 people in this country die each year from medical mistakes.

What if your loved one is among them? How can you tell? What are your rights? Here are some things you should know:

How do you know if your loved one died as a result of an avoidable error?

You may get lucky enough that someone admits to the error, but don't count on it. The medical team will likely explain to you what caused your loved one's death in clinical terms without acknowledging that the circumstances could have been avoided.

You have good reason to suspect a medical error, however, if your loved one died after:

  • Developing an infection while he or she was in the hospital
  • A diagnostic error led to unnecessary treatment 
  • A diagnostic error led to a delay in treatment 
  • Test results were ignored or delayed and treatment went ahead without them
  • He or she fell after surgery or while on a fall watch
  • A medication error was made (including a mistake in dosage) 
  • Treatment was unnecessarily delayed for any reason

These aren't the only possible reasons for an avoidable death, but they are common. The best thing to realize, however, is that you may not be able to determine whether your loved one died a needless, wrongful death without help.

Wrongful death attorney services are designed, in part, to help people identify when a loved one's death was preventable. A consultation could clear up the mystery -- or at least start you on the right road to get some answers. 

What Are Your Rights If Your Loved One Died A Wrongful Death?

If your loved one died due to a medical mistake, that's considered a "wrongful death," even if your loved one was terminal and the mistake just hastened his or her demise. You may have the right to file for compensation that includes:

  • Reasonable funeral and burial costs
  • The cost of any medical bills that are related to the malpractice (such as intensive-care unit treatment after an anesthesia error)
  • The deceased lost future income and financial support toward his or her family
  • The loss of companionship you are suffering from the deceased's absence
  • The loss of guidance he or she could have provided any minor children
  • Your own grief and mental anguish over the deceased's unnecessary death

Every wrongful death claim is very unique and fact-specific. Don't assume, however, that nothing can be done if you believe that your loved one died from a medical mistake but the hospital and doctors aren't admitting anything. Wrongful death attorney services can help you get to the bottom of the mystery.