Unique Factors with Medical Malpractice and the Elderly
Medical malpractice is a serious concern in any context, but the effects and implications are even more problematic when the victim is an elderly person. In a report on medical malpractice claims involving the elderly, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission reported that patients over age 70 were considerably more likely to suffer severe injuries and two times more likely to die from medical errors – as compared to patients under age 60. Plus, more than 56 percent of medical malpractice incidents occurred in the hospital setting.
No one should have to suffer the consequences of a medical mistake, but elderly individuals are among the most vulnerable victims for a number of reasons. You should discuss your concerns with a Florida medical malpractice attorney, but keep in mind some unique factors that affect older patients.
Patients Often Cannot Communicate Concerns: The potential to develop dementia and memory loss increases as humans age. The elderly may not have the capacity to advocate on their own behalf regarding concerns about a medical error or the pain they’re experiencing as a result. Plus, a different treating physician may not be able to detect a medical malpractice incident because the patient cannot communicate regarding symptoms.
Recovery is an Uphill Battle with Age: When an elderly patient suffers bodily harm, the recovery process can be significant and extensive. Many victims deteriorate mentally and physically in a hospital or rehabilitation center, even if they do recover from the original ailment that led to their admission. Statistics indicate that 33 percent of patients over 70 and 50 percent of those over 85 leave the hospital with increased levels of disability than when they came in.
Proof Issues and the Aging Process: Elderly victims are just as entitled to bring a medical malpractice claim, but they face bigger challenges with proving the essential elements of a case. Some hurdles in the legal process include:
- The effect of pre-existing conditions;
- Weaker immune systems that increase the potential for life-threatening infections;
- Higher medical costs to treat the injuries or illness stemming from a medical error;
- Establishing a causal link between medical negligence and the resulting injuries.
Reduced Compensation for the Elderly: Lost wages are usually a portion of damages in a medical malpractice claim, so older victims would not qualify for compensation if they’re not working. However, another aspect of damages is the diminished quality of life, which typically falls under the umbrella of pain and suffering when calculating compensation. Whether through bias or an incorrect presumption, the elderly are viewed as not experiencing a significant loss to quality of life because of their age.
Our Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyers are Here to Help
Every victim of medical malpractice deserves compensation for their extensive losses, no matter what their age. If you or someone you love was injured under circumstances indicating a medical error, please contact the Miami medical malpractice lawyers at Freidin Brown, P.A. right away. We can set up a free consultation at our offices to discuss your legal rights and remedies.