A Catastrophic Malpractice Injury Guide

When you’ve lost mobility or function due to a catastrophic malpractice injury, you’ll want a guide to help you through this worst-case scenario. Injuries of this magnitude happen more often than most people realize, yet a disability or catastrophic loss isn’t news anyone is prepared to hear. Many of these adverse events are due to preventable errors, like miscommunication or system failures, which only make the situation feel even more unfair for those affected.

What Constitutes a Catastrophic Medical Injury?

Medical malpractice resulting in a disability or extensive harm that leaves permanent or long-term effects constitutes a catastrophic injury. In these types of malpractice cases, avoidable medical mistakes lead to severe consequences that can take months or years to heal, if ever.

The difference between catastrophic and non-catastrophic injuries is the impact of the damage caused by the medical mistake. Though this is subjective, disabilities that require around-the-clock care or extensive rehab, or injuries that diminish someone’s quality of life, are considered catastrophic by most courts. 

How Catastrophic Malpractice Injuries Happen

Though it is difficult to think about, nearly any medical treatment can result in malpractice and leave you disabled or disfigured. Surgical errors, adverse drug reactions, and birthing complications are common malpractice injuries in South Carolina, and any of these errors can result from seemingly routine procedures. The damage to a person’s body or brain, resulting in lasting scars, reduced motor functions, or diminished mental capacities, plus the actions of the faulty healthcare provider determines the severity of the malpractice. 

No one can predict which situations will result in catastrophic malpractice injuries. These examples illustrate the range of malpractice injuries that can be life-altering for patients:

  • Burn injuries 
  • Loss of body functions 
  • Internal organ damage due to anesthesia errors, misdiagnoses, or misused medical tools
  • Paralysis resulting from surgical mistakes that damage nerves or the spinal cord
  • Mental or physical disabilities from birthing injuries
  • Improper monitoring, or failure to provide proper care
  • Infections resulting in illnesses from improper hygiene practices in an operating room or facility, or failures during surgery

Your Rights as an Injured Patient

Let this catastrophic malpractice injury guide serve as a reminder that you have the right to advocate for your health and well-being. Champion your case by documenting your experience, including follow-up care, pain levels, and progression of the injury or illness, and then seek professional legal help.

Getting the opinion or assistance of a medical malpractice legal advocate is well within your rights when facing a disability or injury. These professionals can evaluate your situation fairly and recommend the best course of action. When you consider that healthcare providers are backed by malpractice insurance companies who will try to discredit your claim, it is only fair that you have someone on your side. Experienced counsel can calculate the South Carolina Statute of Limitations to provide a timeline for your claim and guide you through complex pre-suit procedures.

Proving a Disability Resulted From Medical Malpractice

With catastrophic malpractice injuries, proving a recognizable amount of damages is not the challenge—substantiating the cause of the injury is often the biggest burden these patients face. There are many obstacles to overcome when tying an impairment, disfigurement, or loss of function to malpractice by a physician, surgeon, or healthcare provider. Meeting these guidelines is prerequisite to establishing a catastrophic malpractice injury:

  • Duty: The healthcare provider or practitioner must have been providing care that resulted in the harm.
  • Breach: The entity must have violated the standard of care for providing the treatment you were due.
  • Causation: The breach in care directly resulted in the damages, injury, or disfigurement you are experiencing.

While these factors are required for all malpractice cases in South Carolina, proving catastrophic injuries often includes understanding complex medical records, lab results, and procedures. These cases require resources and experts to trace the harm to a medical mistake, and experts must be chosen carefully to ensure they can explain the injury clearly to those without medical backgrounds, such as judges or members of a jury.