It is a sad state of affairs that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death after heart attacks and cancer in the U.S. It is estimated that between 250,000 and 255,000 Americans are dying each year from medical negligence.

Now it seems like a large percentage of that number are actionable as medical malpractice. But medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuits filed each year don't come close to 250,000.

What is actionable medical malpractice?

To establish medical malpractice a plaintiff must be able to prove the four D's with evidence. And then that evidence of having experienced the 4 D's must warrant compensation.

1. Duty 

Did the healthcare provider fulfill their duty of care? This can range from listening and respecting a patient's requests to medical practitioners referring to other specialists if they are not sufficiently qualified to provide care.

2. Deviation

Did the healthcare provider deviate from the standard of care? If a healthcare provider deviates from the standard of care it is grounds for malpractice.

3. Damages

Can it be proved with sufficient evidence that the deviation from duty caused damages? Acceptable evidence includes prescription and medical records as well as statements from other physicians in a similar field.

4. Direct cause

The final step of proving actionable medical malpractice is to show that the deviation from the standard of care was the direct (not indirect) cause of injury or injuries.

3 cases of successful medical malpractice lawsuits

In these three cases, a collective amount of $73 million was awarded to the plaintiffs.

In the first case, a mother was awarded $50 million when medical staff ignored an ultrasound that showed the unborn baby hadn't moved for 6 hours during labor.

At the trial, experts testified that a cesarean section would have prevented the baby's brain damage. Unfortunately, the medical staff ignored the mother who told them the baby wasn't moving, and the ultrasound. Now the child cannot walk, speak or sit up on his own.

The second case saw a family awarded $9m in a wrongful death suit. Their daughter died from complications due to improperly prescribed birth control medication.

The daughter had a high risk of blood clots and should not have been given the medication. A month later she went for urgent care but was repeatedly misdiagnosed days before she died from a pulmonary embolism.

The final case is of a mother awarded $15 million when medical staff failed to inform her of her choices of delivery and didn't properly monitor the fetus of her son during labor. As a result, the boy suffers from cerebral palsy and other neurological deficiencies as a result of oxygen deprivation to his brain during labor.

There are many more cases like this, and you can read them here.

Know your rights and know the law is on your side

If you, or a family member, have experienced medical malpractice you should speak with an attorney. There are many attorneys out there who specialize in medical malpractice and can help you get the justice you deserve.

If you are worried about the financial burden of a lawsuit, you can get help. There are companies, like Baker Street Funding, who offer pre-settlement funding.

While a case is pending, a lawsuit funding company will liaise with your attorney and ascertain the viability of your lawsuit. And then based on that assessment they can provide a cash advance on the expected settlement.

This gives you the peace of mind to pursue justice and recompense for the medical negligence you or a loved one has experienced.