New Jersey’s medical malpractice realities

New Jersey residents injured by medical errors or negligence should understand the state’s handling of such cases.

Each day, countless numbers of people in New Jersey must visit a doctor, go to a hospital, undergo a surgery and more. Whether a planned or emergency visit, patients share a common desire and need for confidence in the level of treatment and care that they receive.

Sadly, many people can become the victims of gross negligence on the part of medical professionals. Medical malpractice can relate to surgical errors, birth injuries, medication errors and more. They can also relate to situations in which healthcare professionals take advantage of their status over patients. Such was the situation in a case in which a physician had a sexual affair with a brain injury patient. According to the Daily Record, he has lost his license to practice medicine for three years and a jury has awarded the plaintiff $3.2 million in damages.

What is the statute of limitations in New Jersey?

According to the State of New Jersey legislature website, victims or family members must file medical malpractice lawsuits within two years of the date of alleged injury. An exception to this statute is referred to as the discovery rule. This rule pertains to situations in which the injury is not known about at the time that the event takes place. In these cases, the time limit to file a suit begins once the injury is discovered.

How are cases handled?

The collection of evidence is a critical component to a case in which the failure to provide an acceptable standard of care is concerned. However, it is important to note that not all evidence that may be in existence can be utilized during a lawsuit. A 2004 law called the Patient Safety Act stipulates that any record from an internal investigation at a hospital is considered confidential and does not have to be disclosed or shared with any other party.

An article published on NJ.com indicates that this law was recently challenged yet upheld in a decision put forth by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. The reason for the confidentiality is to enable hospitals to more thoroughly investigate problems internally without any individual or the facility fearing negative repercussions.

This is not the only arena in which silence and confidentiality comes into play in medical malpractice cases. According to a study report published by JAMA Internal Medicine, a large number of settled cases require that all parties refrain from disclosing details about the cases once completed.

What patients should do

Patient safety and rights are always important. If a medical error is suspected, it is recommended that any involved party discuss the situation with a lawyer promptly.

Keywords: medical, malpractice, injury, doctor, hospital