Medical Malpractice

The state of affairs regarding medical malpractice in 2021: Preventable medical error is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality nationwide. The medical establishment refuses to police itself despite studies published by Harvard doctors describing the scope of this issue. The culture of silence among healthcare providers is pervasive. Malpractice liability insurance carriers have become increasingly unreasonable when it comes to settling cases fairly. Enough is enough! You don’t have to fight this battle alone. The medical negligence and personal injury attorneys at Steve Harman Law will fight for your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve.

The purpose of medical negligence and personal injury litigation is two-fold: compensation & deterrence. We represent patients who have been harmed by health care providers and institutions to seek reimbursement for the harm they have endured. Additionally, we work to ensure that this type of error and resulting injury never happen again. When you hire Steve Harman Law, we not only hold your healthcare providers and their institutions accountable, we also work to ensure that future patients receive better care. You owe it to yourself, as well as your community, to join us in working to improve our collective quality of care

Errors in healthcare largely go unnoticed and most are never reported. There is no law requiring doctors or hospitals to report mistakes or to hold themselves publicly accountable. Very few will do so voluntarily. Mistakes occur for a variety of reasons: miscommunication or lack of communication between doctors and staff, poor record keeping, understaffed facilities, lack of adequate rest for healthcare providers, alcohol and/or drug use by healthcare providers, and substandard policies at the institutional level. According to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, deaths due to medical errors totaled 250,000 in 2013, making medical errors the third leading cause of death in the United States that year! And yet still, nearly a decade later, we have no legislation or reform in this regard.

One of the most important things we try to communicate to our potential clients is that not all bad outcomes are the result of negligence. The underlying question is whether there was a failure to meet the standard of care of a reasonable healthcare provider under the same or similar circumstances, and whether that failure caused you harm. These are questions we can answer for you. The truth is that in most cases we investigate, we do not find evidence of medical negligence. This is true for all firms who represent injured patients. Potential clients are always disappointed when we decline representation. We do our best to explain the reasoning behind our decision because we understand your frustration, but we simply cannot change the facts of your case.

Even where negligence is clear, you may not have a viable malpractice claim for a variety of reasons. There are several hurdles you must overcome to file a lawsuit in Montana, beginning with the Montana Medical Legal Panel Act. You cannot file a legal claim prior to enduring the MMLP hearing process where a panel of local “experts” evaluates your potential claim. Sadly, even if you win unanimously at the panel, the insurance company will likely deny liability and refuse to settle. Steve Harman Law has represented hundreds of patients in front of the MMLP over the years and we have seen it all.

The bottom line is that our conservative state legislature simply does not want you to recover for your losses when you have been injured by a healthcare provider. They have imposed a $250,000 cap on general damages for all medical malpractice lawsuits, regardless of the actual amount of your damages, in addition to forcing you to endure the MMLP process. Note that these hurdles do not exist for personal injury and most other types of claims, demonstrating a clear bias when it comes to seeking compensation for injuries.

We work on a contingent fee basis. We investigate your case at no charge to determine whether you have a valid legal claim. We only get paid if and when you are financially compensated for your injury by way of settlement or jury verdict.


Birth Injuries

Birth injuries result from inappropriate or insufficient care. Damages in birth injury cases can be extraordinary because the child often requires a lifetime of supportive care. The extent of injuries is not always immediately apparent following birth, so it is important to hire a lawyer who understands the long-term consequences of these injuries.

Not all birth injuries result from malpractice, but many types of injuries are preventable and avoidable. Negligence claims often involve maternal and fetal infections, injuries sustained during delivery including cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy, and improper post-natal care. Inadequate monitoring and failure to respond appropriately to warning signs are common causes of devastating irreversible neurologic injury in fetuses and newborns.

Under Montana law, the statute of limitations differs for minors as compared with adults. If you have any doubt about a birth injury, or suspect your newborn was injured by substandard medical care, do not hesitate to give us a call.


Spinal Cord Injuries

Most spinal cord injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents, falls, violent altercations, and work and sports-related injuries. Others result from negligent medical procedures such as spinal injections and surgical procedures performed for herniated discs. Injuries to the spine can result in paralysis and physiologic dysfunction, including loss of bowel or bladder control and impotence.

Spinal cord injuries are often permanent and disabling. Typically, patients with these injuries are subjected to long term physical therapy and other costly medical care. Steve Harman Law will analyze your medical records to determine the extent of your damages. We will include the cost of your future care and associated expenses to be sure you are fairly and completely compensated for your injuries.


Surgical Errors

There are a wide variety of medical negligence claims that originate from surgical errors. We start by asking whether your surgical procedure was even indicated for the type of medical problem you had and whether you were properly consented. We determine whether there was a problem with the surgical approach, technique, and/or the medical devices that may have been used. Was your surgeon experienced with this specific procedure or should you have been referred to someone else?

Even the best surgeons, like all of us, make mistakes. Not all bad outcomes result from malpractice. Steve Harman Law will determine whether a mistake constituted a failure to meet the standard of care or whether your outcome was unavoidable. Often, we find the latter. Many patients are relieved to hear they do not have a malpractice case and are genuinely grateful just to hear our explanation. Part of what we focus on at Steve Harman Law is providing you with answers, regardless of whether we can represent you in a legal claim. If you are the victim of a surgical mistake, such as wrong site surgery, complications with anesthesia, or a retained foreign object, contact us to discuss your options.


Prescription Medication Errors

This type of malpractice often results from deficiencies in communication. Common errors include wrong patient, wrong medication, incorrect dosage, or allergic reactions. Some medications cannot be combined with others and occasionally these dangerous combinations slip by the pharmacy. Other cases occur because of poor labeling by the manufacturer and necessitate product liability suits.

An estimated 1.5 million Americans are injured by medication errors annually. These are some of the most common mistakes made in healthcare according to the Institute of Medicine, and are often due to something as simple as the misplacement of a decimal point.

Your healthcare providers are responsible for knowing your medical history and test results. They are responsible for not only knowing about potential side effects and drug interactions, but also for communicating those risks to you. Steve Harman Law will determine whether your medications were managed appropriately and whether you have a potential malpractice claim based on a pharmacy or prescription medication error.


Misdiagnosis and Diagnostic Errors

According to a study in the BMJ, ~12 million Americans are misdiagnosed each year. Some diagnoses are missed more often than others, including cancer, heart attack, meningitis, stroke, lupus erythematosus, and Lyme disease. If you were injured due to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, you may be entitled to compensation. If something doesn’t seem quite right, call us to discuss your concerns. Most importantly, when you are in doubt, never hesitate to seek out a second opinion.

Missed diagnoses (failures to diagnose) can also be fatal. Did the laboratory report your results timely? Did your healthcare provider fail to acknowledge receipt of an important test result? We place tremendous trust in our caretakers and are justified in holding them accountable. Delays in treatment can have irreversible consequences and these delays are often attributable to missing an important finding. If your diagnosis was delayed or missed, you may have lost an opportunity to fully recover. Call us to determine how a misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or missed diagnosis may have affected your potential outcome.


Failure to Treat

This type of malpractice often results from errors in communication coupled with misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis, as described above. Many treatments need to be initiated promptly to be effective, e.g., TPA for stroke. Essentially, these claims arise where a healthcare provider does not properly manage your care, causing you to miss an opportunity to heal or be cured. Montana law recognizes traditional “loss of chance” doctrine and provides an avenue for relief where a patient has a reduced chance of recovery due to malpractice.

Delays in treatment can cause permanent injury. Delays can be caused by radiology errors, laboratory errors, mistakes in the pharmacy, or improper nursing care. Although the finger is often pointed at a doctor, nursing errors are one of the most common causes of medical malpractice. Other negligence cases result from premature discharge from the hospital. Regardless of the cause, Steve Harman Law will seek and obtain compensation for any kind of failure in your medical treatment.


Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

The nursing home or “senior care industry” is booming thanks to our aging population and is projected to continue to grow. There are approximately 2.5 million people living in nursing homes and other similar care facilities. Sadly, abuse and neglect are not uncommon. This has been studied for decades, and more 1/3 of staff members at such facilities report witnessing abuse consistently.

Patients in these facilities are incredibly vulnerable due to their reduced capacity and must depend on others for life’s necessities like food, medicine, and comfort, let alone their healthcare. The corporatization of the industry has created a situation where the operators spend more time focusing on the bottom line than they do on residents’ care. A current shortage of healthcare workers means these facilities are also often understaffed, adding to the pressure to care for more patients with fewer resources.

Steve Harman Law leaves no stone unturned. We hold caretakers and the facilities that employ them to the appropriate standard. We won’t allow corporate fat cats to skimp on your loved one’s care in order to make an extra buck.


Informed Consent

The essence of these claims is that healthcare providers have an obligation to inform you of the risks and benefits of the care they provide. They have a duty to explain the risks associated with potential procedures and to fully explain the options available to you. You are likely familiar with signing a consent form. The underlying question is not whether you signed the form, but rather whether the information provided was sufficient to enable you to make an informed decision.

Malpractice claims arise where you received treatment that was unnecessary or where there was another, less risky option available that was not presented to you. You may have an informed consent claim if your healthcare provider exceeded the scope of your consent. Informed consent is about communication between you and your provider regarding the care you may or may not choose to receive.

You have a fundamental right to seek and obtain information about your own course of care. Ask as many questions as you can, and never hesitate to seek a second opinion. Remember, the ultimate decision is voluntary, and it is yours. If it is too late to exercise such diligence, Steve Harman Law may be able to help. We have represented many patients over the years with informed consent claims. If you are feeling confused, contact us to learn more about your rights as a patient.