The Hughey Law Firm has successfully pursued claims against this facility.
The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) ensures that all medical facilities that accept Medicaid or Medicare undergo regular inspections to assess the extent to which they comply with required standards of care. Charleston’s Trident Medical Center has not only been fined for medical errors by CMS in recent years, but it remains among the lowest-rated hospitals in the nation, according to CMS. Most recently, a judge awarded damages to a widower in May 2019 after his wife died at Trident Medical Center from a medical error.
When we sustain injuries or don’t feel well, we usually head to our nearest clinic or medical center for treatment and/or diagnosis, because we trust that medical professionals will provide us with the care and service that we need. Under federal and state laws, hospitals must adhere to specific standards of care. When they fail to comply, patients might suffer harm or injury as a result of negligence or medical malpractice. Additionally, being harmed by a medical facility or medical professional erodes trust we put in doctors and hospitals, sometimes leading to mental anguish on top of physical injury.
If you or a loved one has been harmed because of medical error or negligence that occurred at Trident Medical Center, South Carolina law permits you to take legal action to seek compensation for damages related to the injury. The qualified legal team at Hughey Law has experience with medical malpractice cases, abuse and neglect cases, and cases involving injuries in facilities as a result of ordinary negligence. Contact a skilled nursing home abuse attorney today at (843) 881-8644 for a free consultation to discuss the harm you suffered at Trident Medical Center.
Trident Medical Center’s Hospital Overall Rating
CMS provides overall ratings for each hospital in its system, which includes more than 80 percent of facilities in the United States. CMS uses more than 100 measures, divided into seven categories, to assign an overall rating between one and five stars. Hospitals, like Trident Medical Center, with the lowest scores, receive one star, while high-performing hospitals receive five stars. The seven categories include:
- Mortality. CMS uses available data to evaluate the death rate for critical patients, including those who suffered heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, and pneumonia. Mortality scores also consider deaths among those who had heart bypass surgery and among those who suffered serious complications after surgery.
- Safety of care. This includes infections and complications, such as infections resulting from catheter insertions, surgical site infections, and bloodstream and intestinal infections.
- Readmission. When patients need to be readmitted after a major event or surgery, it suggests that the facility and doctors didn’t provide adequate care. CMS evaluates readmission rates and the number of return days for heart attack patients, bypass surgery patients, heart failure patients, hips and knee surgery patients, pneumonia patients, stroke patients, and others.
- Patient experience. The facility gathers survey information from patients. Inspectors review answers to questions related to the quality of communication from staff and doctors, cleanliness of patients’ rooms, the extent to which they were satisfied with explanations about medications, discharge information, and the willingness to recommend the facility to another patient. Trident Medical Center scores far below South Carolina’s average inpatient experience surveys, with many unhappy patients.
- Effectiveness of care. A wide variety of measures might fall under the effectiveness of care at a facility. Some examples of what CMS uses for evaluation include the number of patients and employees assessed and given the flu vaccine, the percentage of emergency room patients who left the facility before receiving care, the percentage of pregnant mothers who have scheduled deliveries that aren’t medically necessary, and the number of patients who developed a preventable blood clot.
- Timeliness of care. This measure assesses the average time for a variety of inpatient activities, including time in the ER before hospital admission, time spent in the ER waiting for room in the hospital, length of time potential heart attack victims had to wait for medication to break up blood clots, time possible heart attack patients had to wait for an ECG, and time those who entered the ER with broken bones had to wait before receiving pain medication.
- Efficient use of medical imaging. Radiation from MRIs and CT scans isn’t healthy, but many times the benefits outweigh the risks. Yet, medical professionals are supposed to try other methods first and protect patients from unneeded scans. This category digs into the specifics of CT scans and MRIs to ensure that they provide as much data as possible without subjecting a patient to additional scans.
Malpractice Laws in South Carolina
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your injury at Trident Medical Center, your attorney might advise you to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover damages for your injury. Medical malpractice suits are complex undertakings with requirements that go beyond a run-of-the-mill personal injury lawsuit. Below we outline some specifics that pertain to medical malpractice suits in South Carolina.
What Actions Constitute a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Numerous different scenarios can lead to a medical malpractice claim against a facility and/or an individual medical professional, most often a physician. These scenarios include:
- Misdiagnosing illness or disease
- Failing to diagnose a disease or illness
- Failing to take a complete patient history that causes injury
- Never events, such as wrong-site surgeries, unnecessary surgeries, and surgical errors
- Prescribing the wrong medication in the right dosage or the right medication in the wrong dosage
- Improper administration of medication
- Inadequate follow-up care
- Failure to order proper diagnostic tests
South Carolina Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice Claims
In most cases, you have three years to file a medical malpractice claim in South Carolina. The state does, however, have a strict statute of repose, which is an absolute time limit of six years. This means you cannot file a claim beyond six years after you were harmed by a facility or medical professional. South Carolina does have a delayed discovery rule, which means your three-year statute of limitations time clock begins from the date you discover, or should have discovered, your injury. For example, if a surgeon closes up your body and forgets to remove a sponge or surgical tool, you might not realize the mistake for days, weeks, months, or years.
Procedural Requirements for South Carolina Medical Malpractice Claims
Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit requires a qualified attorney who can help you meet the pre-suit procedural requirements in South Carolina, which require you to file a Notice of Intent and an Affidavit of Expert with the court. Once you file these documents, with the help of a lawyer, the statute of limitations for your claim tolls while you participate in mandatory mediation to resolve the claim before filing suit. The specifics of these documents are as follows:
- Notice of intent to file suit. This document must name all defendants, which typically includes the facility and one or more licensed medical professionals. Additionally, a notice of intent provides a brief statement of the circumstances of the malpractice that you believe entitles you to damages under the law. In addition to filing the document with the court, you must serve all defendants a copy of the document.
- Affidavit of expert. To protect the medical community from frivolous medical malpractice claims, an expert witness, who must be a qualified medical expert, must submit an affidavit that describes at least one action or inaction of medical negligence on the part of the facility and/or medical professional. This affidavit must accompany the Notice of Intent, including a copy for the court and all listed defendants.
Seeking Compensation After Suffering Harm at Trident Medical Center
If you do not reach an agreement during mediation and need to file a lawsuit, or your case doesn’t warrant a medical malpractice suit, you might recover the following economic and non-economic damages in a settlement or a verdict in your favor:
- Medical treatment costs, which include ambulance and emergency services, hospitalization, diagnostic imaging tests, corrective surgery, prescriptions, and aftercare
- Future medical expenses when malpractice results in a permanent condition, disease, or disability requiring lifelong treatment and/or care
- Lost wages from missing work due to injuries related to malpractice
- Lost earning capacity when medical malpractice prevents a victim from returning to work or gaining meaningful employment
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of quality of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium with spouse
- Punitive damages in cases of intentional harm or gross negligence
South Carolina’s civil procedure laws cap non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and mental anguish, in medical malpractice claims to $350,000. If the case includes more than one defendant, total non-economic damages cannot exceed $1,050,000. South Carolina law, however, does not impose a cap on punitive damages, which courts award to punish defendants. However, courts don’t award punitive damages in many cases. A plaintiff must prove that the defendants willfully caused him or her harm, which typically isn’t the case in these types of injuries, but when facilities or their employees learn of action or inaction that leads to harm to a patient, and they take measures to cover up the mistake, their fraud and coverup often results in an award of punitive damages for a plaintiff.
If you lost a loved one because of injuries sustained while he or she received care at Trident Medical Center, you might also be eligible for compensation depending on your relationship with the deceased. South Carolina permits eligible family members to sue for damages in a wrongful death suit to recover compensation for some of the economic and non-economic losses listed above, as well as for funeral costs and burial expenses. Surviving spouses, like the previously mentioned widower, commonly seek remedy after a wrongful death.
In this recent case surrounding Trident Medical Center, Charleston resident Eleanor Bilton became ill at home and went to Trident’s emergency room in late July 2017. Her blood tests revealed that she had a drastic drop in her red blood cell count, but doctors failed to check or rule out internal bleeding. Subsequently, they gave her a blood thinner. Not having followed proper protocol for the medication, Bilton bled out at Trident Medical Center later that afternoon.
Medical Malpractice Claims versus Ordinary Negligence Claims
Choosing whether to file a medical malpractice claim or an ordinary negligence claim against a facility can be a challenging decision. Many lawyers choose ordinary negligence claims to avoid the previously mentioned procedural requirements. Furthermore, all injuries that occur in a medical setting aren’t automatically medical malpractice. Your trusted attorney will guide you on which legal action is best for your case, but broadly speaking, filing a medical malpractice suit means two things:
- The negligent act that caused you or your loved one harm was a result of medical diagnosis, treatment, or care.
- The diagnosis, treatment, or care was provided by a healthcare facility and/or a licensed medical professional.
You might have been injured at Trident Medical Center, but if it wasn’t part of your diagnosis, treatment, or care then it doesn’t qualify as medical malpractice. Some additional examples include suffering an injury after slipping on a food spill, a defective medical device caused your injury, or you were neglected or abused by caregivers. Your attorney will give you a definitive answer on the best course of action, but these cases don’t typically qualify as medical malpractice.
Get the Legal Help You Need From Hughey Law After You Suffered Harm at Trident Medical Center
Injured and ill individuals are supposed to go to hospitals to seek medical attention and get the help they need to recover or treat their injury and illness; a visit to the hospital should not cause harm, injury, or death. If you, your spouse, your child, or another loved one have suffered harm at Trident Medical Center, you shouldn’t have to shoulder the financial burden that comes with injury. You deserve full and fair compensation for damages. Hughey Law is here to help you hold Trident Medical Center, its doctors, and/or its other employees accountable for injuries that you suffered in while there. Contact us today at (843) 881-8644 or online to discuss the details of your injuries.
Hughey Law Firm LLC
1311 Chuck Dawley Blvd. | Suite 201
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464