Medical malpractice is defined as a legal cause of action that occurs when a medical or healthcare professional, through a negligent act or omission, deviates from standards in their profession, thereby causing injury to a patient. A patient who has been injured due to a doctor’s negligence may choose to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Some common types of medical malpractice claims are:
- Misdiagnosis: the doctor failed to diagnose the correct illness
- Delayed diagnosis: the doctor finds the correct diagnosis but only after a patient has dealt with unnecessary treatment which resulted in pain, suffering and costs.
- Childbirth injuries: injuries that occur before, during or after childbirth that can lead to catastrophic results for a mother and child.
- Surgical errors: performing the wrong procedure, foreign objects left behind, problems with anesthesia, or failure to follow proper protocols before, during and after surgery.
- Pharmaceutical injuries: mistakes involving prescribing the wrong medication, wrong dose, failing to realize drug interactions and failure to recognize signs of addiction or abuse.
- Failure to treat: violating the standards of care, for example, releasing a patient too soon or failing to order the proper tests or medications.
What Counts as a Medical Malpractice Claim?
To be able to bring about a successful medical malpractice claim, a plaintiff will have to prove that:
- There was a violation in the standard of care: there are certain medical standards recognized as being acceptable medical treatment by reasonable healthcare professionals under similar circumstances. Under this standard of care, a patient should expect that all healthcare professionals will offer care that meets those standards. If a plaintiff can prove that standard has not been met, they will be able to claim that the healthcare provider has been negligent.
- An injury was caused by negligence: In addition to proving that the standard of care has been violated, a plaintiff will also need to prove that the medical provider was negligent. It is important to note that a bad outcome on its own is not grounds for malpractice, a plaintiff must prove that their injuries only occurred due to negligence.
- The injury resulted in significant damages: Medical malpractice lawsuits can be costly, and difficult due to their complex nature. They frequently require expert testimony from medical professionals and many hours of preparation. Therefore, to bring about a successful medical malpractice claim, the damages a plaintiff received as a result of the malpractice will have to be significant. If the damages are small, the cost to litigate a medical malpractice case may exceed any potential recovery.
If you or a loved one has suffered injury due to medical malpractice, it is important that you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area. Medical malpractice laws vary from state to state so it is important to consult with someone who is familiar with the laws in your area. A local attorney will be able to assess your case and help you determine if you have a claim and what you should do moving forward.
Thanks to Eglet Adams for their insight on medical malpractice claims.