Medical Malpractice

Atlanta Trial Attorneys Who Specialize in Medical Malpractice

We are experienced Georgia medical malpractice lawyers. For more than 15 years, medical malpractice has been a primary focus area for attorney Daniel Ragland. He has considerable expertise and an impeccable state-wide reputation in this area. Each year, the Atlanta Magazine publishes a list of Georgia’s “Super Lawyers” based upon voting results from lawyers throughout the state. Every year between 2004-2009, attorney Daniel Ragland was awarded the “Super Lawyers” designation in the area of medical malpractice. There are only a handful of law firms in Atlanta who can legitimately claim that they are medical malpractice specialists - Ragland Law Firm, LLC is one of those premier malpractice law firms. Attorneys there diligently study the medical science involved in the cases they handle which is why other personal injury attorneys often refer prospective clients with possible medical malpractice matters to the firm.

Trial Attorneys Handling Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Throughout Georgia

Attorneys at Ragland Law Firm, LLC have represented victims of medical malpractice in Atlanta, Gainesville, Cartersville, Dalton, LaGrange, Columbus, Athens, Augusta, Macon, Thomaston, Albany and many other parts of Georgia. These cases involved many different circumstances including infections, medication errors, failures to diagnose, improper surgery and surgical complications, negligent administration of anesthesia, misreading of x-rays, sexual misconduct by a physician, post-operative retention of a foreign object, and obstetrical mistakes leading to birth injuries. View our Case Results page if you want to learn more about some of the Georgia medical malpractice lawsuits which the attorneys at Ragland Law Firm, LLC have successfully handled.

The Types of Cases Which Can Be Pursued
By a Qualified Georgia Medical Malpractice Trial Lawyer

Because of their vast experience in this area, the attorneys at Ragland Law Firm, LLC are able to evaluate the merits of potential claims and determine whether a medical malpractice lawsuit is advisable. Some of the circumstances which may justify the pursuit of a medical malpractice lawsuit would include the following:

  • post-operative retention of a sponge, surgical instrument or other foreign body following surgery
  • medication errors such as the prescription of a contra-indicated drug, the use of the wrong medicine, a prescribed drug overdose, failure to administer a drug ordered for a patient, or the administration of an incorrect dosage of a prescribed or needed drug
  • a surgeon who operates or a doctor who practices medicine while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • sexual molestation, sexual misconduct, or offensive behavior by a doctor, nurse or other health care professional
  • failure to accurately diagnose acute coronary symptoms which lead to heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event
  • obstetrical mismanagement of labor leading to birth injuries such as anoxic brain injury, Cerebral Palsy, Erbs Palsy, or brachial plexus injury
  • use of an unsafe, tainted, infected or contaminated blood product, tissue implant, bone graft, orthopaedic replacement product, implantable device or surgical instrument
  • use of an unsafe drug or defective medical device
  • surgical errors causing injury to surrounding nerves or organs, or operating room negligence leading to complications following surgery
  • operation on the wrong part or wrong side of the body
  • failure of a hospital to ensure the competency of a nurse or physician
  • mistakes in the reading or interpretation of x-rays, mammograms, MRI’s, or other radiology studies
  • failure to obtain the patient’s informed consent prior to a procedure
  • disclosure of incorrect information about the results of medical tests
  • mistakes during the administration of anesthesia
  • failure to correctly diagnose a condition, or delay in the diagnosis of cancer or other progressive diseases
  • failure to prevent a fall or the dropping of a patient during bed transfers
  • a nurse’s failure to read or follow written physician orders, or failure to communicate changes in the patient’s condition to the physician
  • a hospital’s failure to have or to maintain in good working order needed medical equipment
  • failure to prevent a suicidal, psychotic or psychiatric patient from injuring themselves or someone else
  • failure to protect a patient from attack or assault by another patient, healthcare employee or someone who enters the hospital premises.

We invite you to contact us if someone has died or been injured by any of these examples of potential malpractice.

Doctors and Hospitals Do Commit Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is not a myth – it takes place every day. Indeed, surgical errors and medical mistakes by doctors, nurses and other medical professionals occur with alarming frequency. Sometimes medical malpractice is the result of incompetency, but it can also be the result of inattention, oversight, intoxication, or mistakes by even the most qualified or reputable health care provider. Therefore, all patients, even those who can afford to go the “best” doctors and hospitals, are at risk of severe injury or death due to medical negligence.

Unfortunately, because of aggressive and well financed propaganda campaigns by physicians and their insurance companies, the general public has been falsely led to believe that medical malpractice rarely occurs and that it poses no significant threat to patients. That simply is not true, and ignores solid information which proves that real malpractice causes thousands of patients to lose their lives or suffer paralysis, limb amputation, disfigurement and other severe injuries every year. The documented data and facts are these:

  • Various studies, including one from Harvard University, have concluded that medical negligence causes or contributes to the death of between 80,000 and 195,000 American patients each year;

  • In a survey conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, 30% of the responding physicians reported that they had actually witnessed medical errors which led to serious harm to the patient;

  • According to the Insurance Law Center at the University of Connecticut Law School, 1 in every 100 hospitalized patients will receive negligent care; and

  • According to a 2004 study by Health Grades, 2% of all patients will experience the adverse effects of a drug error during their hospital stay. That same study concluded that if the CDC counted hospital errors as a cause of death, they would rank sixth ahead of Diabetes, Influenza, Pneumonia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
There Is No Litigation or Malpractice “Crisis”

Despite this hard evidence, the insurance industry and medical lobbies have done an effective job of misleading citizens and convincing them that the problem is not the relative frequent occurrence of real malpractice, but the proliferation of “frivolous” lawsuits filed by greedy lawyers. Yes, there are some bad lawyers who file malpractice cases of questionable merit. But, most malpractice lawsuits are filed because the patient suffered a disabling injury and there are legitimate issues surrounding the competency of the doctor or the adequacy of care received by that patient. The well documented facts are that there is no “litigation crisis,” that malpractice cases are not proliferating, that most malpractice cases have merit, and that malpractice lawsuits are not the cause of increasing medical costs. These truths have been proven by numerous quality studies which document the following facts and data:

  • The number of medical malpractice and other personal injury lawsuits being filed on a per capita basis is not rising and has actually decreased slightly over the past two decades, a fact even the American Medical Association has acknowledged.

  • A recent study by the U.S. Department of Justice has shown that the median inflation adjusted jury award in all personal injury cases has actually steadily declined during the last 15-20 years.

  • Medical malpractice, automobile accidents, product liability and all other personal injury claims account for only about 5% of all civil lawsuits filed in America.

  • Only about 7% of all personal injury cases involve claims of medical malpractice – 93% involve automobile accidents, defective products or some other type of injury causing event.

  • Various studies, including ones performed by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, estimate that medical malpractice premiums paid by doctors and hospitals only amount to less than 1% of the total health care costs paid in this country.

  • According to the Insurance Law Center at the University of Connecticut Law School, less than 3% of malpractice victims ever file a lawsuit and that as recently as 2003, the average physician paid less than $12,000 in malpractice insurance.

  • The May 2006 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine published results of research performed by the prestigious Harvard School of Public Health which demonstrated that most medical malpractice lawsuits filed in this country are meritorious, that very few “frivolous” lawsuits actually get filed, and that 80% of the meritorious cases involved medical negligence that had caused the death or major disability of the patient.
Experienced Georgia Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Of course, the attorneys at Ragland Law Firm, LLC have never needed any studies or statistics to confirm that people of all ages, race and economic status are all too frequently suffering the catastrophic consequences of real medical negligence. They have been handling these medical malpractice cases for many years, and have seen firsthand many instances of actual and sometimes blatantly obvious malpractice which devastated the lives of their clients and their clients’ families.

Examples of Actual Medical Malpractice Cases Successfully Litigated By
Ragland Law Firm, LLC in Atlanta and Other Parts of Georgia

Here are just a few of the medical malpractice lawsuits which attorney Daniel Ragland has successfully handled on behalf of a patient or their family. These are not hypothetical scenarios – these things took place and resulted in an actual lawsuit being filed and settled on confidential terms.

  • An unsupervised anesthesiology physician’s assistant at an Atlanta hospital mishandled extubation of a patient’s breathing tube after minor surgery leading to anoxic brain injury and death.

  • Physicians at a Georgia hospital ignored clinical symptoms and available laboratory test results causing them to overlook the presence and progression of a spinal infection leading to paralysis.

  • An Atlanta physician prescribed a contra-indicated drug because he failed to determine what other drugs the patient was already taking and co-administration of the two drugs caused a stroke and resulting severe injuries.

  • Mistakes by operating room nurses allowed a laparatomy sponge to be left inside a woman following a cesarean section which caused post-operative infection and the need for subsequent surgery.

  • Physicians at a hospital emergency room failed to adequately evaluate a man’s acute coronary symptoms and discharged him home where he soon died of myocardial infarction (heart attack).

  • A surgeon’s failure to recognize signs of obvious compartment syndrome following the operative repair of a broken wrist resulted in deforming injuries to the patient’s hand and lower arm.

  • A young man died within two days of being admitted to an Atlanta hospital after suffering a head injury because unsupervised neurosurgical residents covering the ICU that weekend failed to monitor and respond to a worsening subdural hematoma.

  • Pediatric intensivists at an Augusta, Georgia hospital failed to properly diagnose and treat a bowel obstruction leading to the death of a child.

  • Use of a defective medical device led to complications during surgery to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm, and mismanagement of the complication by an Atlanta vascular surgeon resulted in the patient’s death in the operating room.

  • A hospital in central Georgia failed to protect a patient from being attacked by another patient who had been admitted for psychiatric treatment.

  • Psychiatrists employed by the State of Georgia at a state operated mental health facility failed to appreciate the suicidal ideations of a patient with a history of major depressive disorder, and soon after her premature discharge without adequate treatment, the patient attempted suicide by lighting herself on fire.

  • Nurses at a southwest Georgia hospital failed to follow physician orders and administer insulin to a pregnant insulin dependent diabetic woman which led to the death of the patient’s fetus.

  • A plastic surgeon seduced a 20 year old woman with a history of brain injury due to a childhood car accident into having an illicit sexual relationship during the period he was performing various cosmetic procedures for her.

  • An Atlanta obstetrician failed to perform a first trimester abortion properly thereby causing the patient to suffer shock and extreme emotional anguish when she spontaneously delivered a mutilated fetus a few weeks later.
Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Case All the Way to the Georgia Supreme Court

As evidence of its dedication to malpractice victims, Ragland Law Firm, LLC has taken one of its medical malpractice cases all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court where a unanimous decision was rendered in favor of the law firm’s client. See Schramm v. Lyon, 285 Ga. 72 (2009). That case involved physicians who failed to give needed vaccinations to an asplenic woman who had lost her spleen due to injuries she suffered in a car accident as a teenager. Many years later, because she was not properly immunized, the asplenic woman suffered an overwhelming post-splenectomy infection (OPSI) which resulted in the amputation of all four limbs. Afterward, she retained attorney Daniel Ragland who filed a malpractice lawsuit claiming that her primary care physician and OB-GYN physicians could and should have guarded against OPSI with certain vaccinations which are recommended for any individuals without a functioning spleen. The physician defendants convinced the trial judge to dismiss that malpractice lawsuit on grounds it was time barred by Georgia’s 5 year statute of repose. Attorney Ragland successfully appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals which, in a 4-3 decision, reversed the trial court’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit. See Lyon v. Schramm, 291 Ga.App. 48 (2008). The Georgia Supreme Court granted the defendants’ request for certiorari and in February 2009, published a 7-0 decision in which it unanimously affirmed the Georgia Court of Appeals and reinstated the lawsuit. Soon after the Georgia Supreme Court’s favorable ruling, the defendants agreed to settle the case on terms which are confidential.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Are Justified

From empirical data and our own experience representing the victims, we know full well that real malpractice occurs often and with devastating consequences. We also know that the pursuit of meritorious medical malpractice cases in Georgia has a rightful place in our society. No citizen should allow the propaganda of insurance companies and lobbyists to convince them that medical malpractice lawsuits are wrong, or that medical care providers deserve to be immune from civil liability even though their incompetence or negligence cause severe injuries or death. Doctors, nurses and hospital personnel are no different than anyone else. Like other citizens, medical professionals make mistakes and when they do, they should be accountable to the injured patient and their families. Medical malpractice litigation serves two key purposes. It encourages doctors and hospitals to act carefully and provide competent, quality care. And, most importantly, malpractice litigation is the means by which patients conduct investigations to determine how or why they were injured, and obtain needed compensation from those found to have committed malpractice.

Georgia Law Defines Medical Malpractice

A cause of action for medical malpractice in Georgia is provided in both the statutes and common law (i.e., appellate court decisions) of this state. The statutory basis for claims of medical malpractice can be found at O.C.G.A. § 51-1-27, which provides as follows:

“A person professing to practice surgery or the administering of medicine for compensation must bring to the exercise of his profession a reasonable degree of care and skill. Any injury resulting from a lack of such care and skill shall be a tort for which a recovery may be had.”

The appellate courts of Georgia have repeatedly said that medical malpractice is defined as the failure of the physician, nurse or other medical care professional to provide the degree of care and skill which is required by the “standard of care” applicable to that particular professional under the circumstances presented. The phrase “standard of care” refers to what reasonably competent and skilled physicians, nurses or other medical professionals would ordinarily do under “similar conditions and like circumstances.” Georgia appellate courts require that in addition to proving a deviation from the “standard of care,” the plaintiff must show, usually through expert testimony, that the alleged negligence caused or contributed to the patient’s death or injury based upon “reasonable medical probability.”

Dentists, Psychiatrists, Chiropractors, Podiatrists, Nurses and Other Medical Care Professionals Can Be Named in Malpractice Lawsuits

Medical malpractice law in Georgia is not limited to doctors and hospitals. If their negligence causes injury or death to a patient, any healthcare professional can be the subject of a malpractice lawsuit. Thus, malpractice claims can be asserted against dentists, psychiatrists, chiropractors, podiatrists, lab technicians, physical therapists, midwives, nurses, and other medical care providers.

Georgia Law Requires Expert Testimony in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

No lawsuit alleging medical malpractice against a physician, nurse, hospital or other medical care professional can be filed in Georgia without support from an expert witness who practices or teaches in the same field of medicine as the defendant. Specifically, there is a statute, O.C.G.A. § 9-11-9.1, which requires that a sworn affidavit signed by at least one competent medical expert be attached to every medical malpractice lawsuit filed in Georgia. This is an absolute requirement and any malpractice case filed without an attached expert affidavit is subject to dismissal by the judge.

Atlanta Lawyers Especially Qualified to Handle Medical Malpractice Litigation

As shown above, we are experienced medical malpractice specialists located in Atlanta. We have considerable expertise in this field, and we regularly handle malpractice cases all over Georgia. Malpractice litigation is probably the most complicated and costly type of personal injury case. It requires the use of medical experts, and the attorney must study extensively to be adequately versed in the medical conditions, procedures, and standards of care involved in the patient’s course of treatment. Only those Georgia lawyers who have the ability, experience and willingness to do this should handle malpractice cases. Because medical malpractice lawsuits are very difficult, time consuming and costly, we are especially selective and each year, we accept only a few of the many malpractice cases presented to us. As a result, we are able to devote the time, resources, and diligent study required to pursue medical malpractice with success.

Contact an Experienced Georgia Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you believe you or a family member has been the victim of medical malpractice, we encourage you to contact us so that we can learn more about your potential case and review it at no charge. We are conveniently located near Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody, Georgia. There are no fees and no obligation for you to call and consult with us about your potential medical malpractice case.