Vaccines do a lot of public good. In fact, the measles and several other diseases have mostly been eradicated in the U.S. because of vaccines. However, sometimes people experience adverse outcomes after getting immunized or fall ill because they don't get the right kind of medications. One question many people in this situation have is whether they can hold their healthcare providers liable for damages related to vaccine injuries. It is possible, and here are two ways you can go about it.
Vaccine Injuries as a Result of Negligence
There are two legal avenues you can take to sue a healthcare provider for injuries you or your loved one sustained due to a vaccine. One is to prove negligence on the part of the medical professional. Negligence occurs when a person has a duty to perform an act or behave a certain way but fail to do so and cause damages or injuries as a result.
Although various vaccines are recommended by the Center for Disease Control, it is the medical professional's job to ensure patients receive the correct medications and to minimize the risk of adverse reactions as much as possible. If your healthcare provider failed in this duty, then you could sue him or her for medical malpractice.
For example, one child was given Prevnar 7 in 2009, which is a vaccination that protects against seven types of pneumococcus virus. However, in 2010, a new vaccine that safeguarded children against 13 types of pneumococcus virus was approved by the FDA, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that kids who received the old vaccine should get immunized again with the new one.
Unfortunately, the nurse practitioner and pediatrician who were treating the child failed to administer the updated vaccine or advise the parents about it and the child fell ill with a strain of pneumococcus that could have been prevented by Prevnar 13. As a result, the child developed long-term medical problems.
In this case, the nurse practitioner and the pediatrician could be held liable for negligence because they failed to keep proper immunization records, which result in the child being left vulnerable to the disease that ultimately disabled the boy.
Vaccine Injuries as a Result of Failure to Warn
Another way you could hold a healthcare provider liable for vaccine injuries is by showing the medical professional failed to warn you of the possible health risks associated with the medication. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers have a duty to tell you about the possible side effects you may experience when taking any medication so you can make an informed decision about whether you want to use it or not. When the person fails in this duty, he or she can be made to pay for any damages or losses the patient suffers.
In addition to that, a medical professional may also be held liable for failing to tell patients about the risks associated with not using the medication. For instance, if a pediatrician doesn't tell you that not getting your child vaccinated against measles puts him or her at a higher risk of contracting the disease, you could make a case that you weren't able to make an informed decision about the issue if you opt out of the immunization and your child gets sick as a result.
However, it's important to note that healthcare providers are only required to tell you about known side effects that commonly occur. This is because it's impossible to account for everything that could possibly go wrong when being immunized with a particular vaccine. Therefore, the court may give the doctor a pass for failing to inform a patient about obscure complications or those that are not known to be associated with a particular vaccine, especially if another reasonable medical professional also would not have mentioned the side effect.
There may be other ways you can successfully sue a doctor for vaccine-related injuries. Contact a law firm like Blomberg Benson & Garrett for more information about this issue and assistance with putting together a viable case.