The amount of time a plaintiff has to sue is known as the California “statute of limitations” or “limitations period.” The limitations period in a California professional negligence case depends on whether the injured party is an adult or a minor.
Accidents that occur during medical procedures and surgeries are perhaps the most common type of claim. In some cases, the negligence is obvious – for instance, when a doctor stitches up a patient after surgery but leaves surgical equipment or supplies inside the patient’s body. In other cases, physician error during surgery can exacerbate harm, trigger excessive bleeding or nerve damage, or even cause death.
Another common type of medical negligence is when an improper drug, or an improper quantity of a drug, is administered to a patient. Mistakes pertaining to the wrong medication or the wrong dosage are often the result of communication errors between doctors and nurses.
In California, physicians can be held liable for medical negligence for both the treatment and the diagnosis of a patient. Misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose is a common type of physician error.
Most medical procedures or treatments involve some risk. It is the doctor’s responsibility to give the patient information about a particular treatment or procedure so the patient can decide whether to undergo the treatment, procedure, or test. Typically, doctors typically require patients to sign a consent form detailing the risks of any given treatment or procedure. But signing a form alone does not necessarily prove that the patient gave informed consent. The doctor must actually discuss the procedure and risks with the patient. And the patient must understand, to the extent possible, the risks he or she faces. The law does not require aa doctor doesn’t have to tell a patient about every possible thing that might happen as a result of a procedure or treatment, but only those risks that are important. There are two important questions: Would other doctors have disclosed the risk and would a normal patient have made a different decision if informed of the risk? Importantly, there are several exceptions to the informed consent rule.