Taking the Confusion Out of Common Injury and Estate Planning Worries: Answers to Your Frequent Questions
The most important job for any attorney is making sure that his client understands every aspect of her case. Although some lawyers are comfortable keeping their clients in the dark, we feel that you deserve more. You deserve to have all of your questions and concerns addressed in order to pursue your own case confidently and successfully. This is why we take the initiative to answer common questions that you may have even before you even step into our office. If you don't see your question answered below, please contact our office at 855-522-5291.
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What is a “reasonable standard of care” in medical malpractice cases?
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, over $3 billion was paid out in 2012 in medical malpractice cases, and medical errors and negligence continue to be a top contributor to negative patient outcomes.
Medical malpractice occurs when a physician or other healthcare provider is negligent in treating a patient. Malpractice can also occur in cases where treatment was not administered when it should have been. Whether or not a provider acted in a negligent manner is typically based on what is known as the reasonable standard of care.
Defining Reasonable Standard of Care
Reasonable standard of care is a legal term, not a medical term. It is used to describe the actions of a healthcare provider. Essentially, it examines whether a provider’s actions were similar to what another provider with the same skills, in the same community, and using the same knowledge would take. Would a competent healthcare professional offer the same level or kind of care under the same circumstances? Were the provider’s actions in line with what other similar providers could and would do under the circumstances?
Determining If Standard of Care Was Met
In these cases, the knowledge of expert witnesses helps to determine if a medical malpractice has occurred. In many states, including Illinois and Missouri, plaintiffs are required to file an affidavit of merit along with the complaint. An affidavit of merit is a statement from an expert in the field stating that in his or her opinion, the standard of care was not met.
It is important to note two significant factors concerning reasonable standard of care:
1.Standard of care does not ensure only positive outcomes. Bad results or complications do not automatically equate to negligence.
2.Not every doctor will use the same treatment plan in the same cases. Even if a physician’s method of treatment is different from what an expert witness may offer, the physician could still be within the reasonable standard of care.
Determining reasonable standard of care can be difficult, as every case is unique. If you have questions about whether you or your loved one is a victim of medical malpractice, a skilled attorney can help. Call the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm today at 855-522-5291 to discuss your case and determine if you are eligible to make a claim.
What are off-label medications, and is it safe to take these drugs?
In the United States, we have many prescription medications available to treat virtually every disease. Physicians have the freedom to prescribe any medication they see fit to aid a patient. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not govern medical practice. So, while they hold manufacturers to strict guidelines about who marketing campaigns may target, physicians are not held to those same mandates. They may select any medication for any patient.
What Are Off-Label Medications?
Mayo Clinic researchers define off-label prescribing as “prescribing currently available and marketed medications but for an indication that has never received FDA approval.” This means the drug has been tested and approved for some use, but it is then prescribed to treat a disease for which it does not have approval, in a different dosage than standard or in a different patient population than intended.
Studies state that off-label prescribing is very common, with one study claiming that as many as 20 percent of prescriptions are off-label.
These medications are often used safely outside their intended purpose, and physicians may prescribe a drug off-label for many reasons. Some reasons include:
- Last resort. In some cases, the patient is suffering from a terminal illness, and his doctor will try any treatment that may ease symptoms or possibly improve health.
- Other medications in the class are approved for that use. If another drug in the same class does have FDA approval for an additional use, physicians may proceed to prescribe any drug in the class for that use.
- Lack of population data. The drug may not have specific approval for a specific population, such as children, pregnant women or elderly patients. For example, the narcotic morphine is not FDA-approved for use in children, but it is very commonly used by pediatric doctors.
- Anecdotal evidence. Information from other doctors in the field could prompt a physician to try an off-label prescription.
Are Off-Label Medications Safe to Use?
While there have been few reports of off-label medications causing serious harm, there is usually just not enough scientific research available to say with certainty whether off-label drugs are safe or not. In many cases, only financial considerations have kept manufacturers from pursuing additional FDA approval.
However, researchers acknowledge that due to the uncertainty, physicians could be held liable for complications that occur when a patient is prescribed an off-label drug.
Experts encourage patients to ask physicians if a medication is being prescribed to them off-label. If it is, patients should find out why specifically their doctor wants to prescribe the medication and if there are any FDA-approved drugs that could be alternate options.
While many commonly prescribed off-label drugs are considered safe, others can cause complications and harm. If you or someone you love suffered injuries after taking an off-label drug, you may be entitled to make a claim. Chat live with a member of the experienced legal team at the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm to learn more today.