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Medical Malpractice for Doctor's Use of Outdated Medical Equipment

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on July 19, 2016 2:00 PM

When you go to the doctor or hospital, you probably don't judge the equipment. Unless you work in a field that deals with your particular injury or illness, it is unlikely that you know about the latest innovations in medicine. As such, you may not realize when negligence has occurred.

Medical malpractice can happen for all kinds of reasons, including using old and outdated medical equipment. This kind of negligence is often particularly difficult to uncover because it requires a certain expertise in order to understand how things went wrong and what might have been expected. Given this, we should be aware of the possibility of medical malpractice connected to equipment.

Medical Negligence

Negligence in a medical setting occurs when a doctor or other healthcare worker, who owes a duty of care to a patient, breaches that duty in some way. Breach occurs when the doctor or institution falls below the standard of care required of a similar person or institution in same or similar circumstances.

When it comes to equipment maintenance and replacement, a doctor or hospital must keep up to date to avoid potential liability claims. But there are variations in expectations in different places. A doctor in a big city with many innovative hospitals on the cutting edge of medicine may have a greater obligation to keep up to date than one further removed, practicing in a remote, rural location where there are no other medical practitioners.

Regardless, if the plaintiff can show that their injury occurred due to the defendant's failure to maintain the standard of care, then the last element of medical malpractice to prove will be damages, calculating the cost of the harm. Sometimes damage from faulty equipment can be costly indeed.

Equipment Issues

Medical malpractice statutes very from state to state, so the details of your case and the place you are in will dictate your arguments. Some places, like Philadelphia, have extended the standard of care in medical malpractice law to explicitly include upkeep and replacement of hospital equipment.

For example, a few years ago, a jury awarded a plaintiff in that state $78 million after her baby's birth was delayed due to a faulty ultrasound machine. Doctors believed that the baby was dead and did not realize its heart was beating, thus delaying the child's birth and causing brain damage. The hospital had failed to take proper care of its ultrasound machine and for ten years had not had maintenance performed.

Obviously, use of appropriate tools is an important aspect of professional care. Do talk to a lawyer if you suspect faulty equipment contributed to your injury or illness.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you suspect medical malpractice of any kind caused you harm, speak to a lawyer. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case.

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