While most doctors and other medical professionals are competent and attentive individuals who are truly passionate about their work, it is still possible for errors to occur, which can injure patients as a result.
Essentially, medical malpractice can occur as a result of a healthcare professional or provider:
- Neglecting to provide adequate treatment,
- Failing to take appropriate action, or
- Providing substandard care that causes harm, injury, or death to a patient.
Typically, when medical malpractice occurs, it often involves some sort of medical error. It is possible for errors to occur in:
- Medication dosage
- Health management
Medical malpractice law provides the possibility for patients to recover compensation for any damages that result from inadequate care. Unfortunately, medical malpractice is relatively common in the United States. More than 250,000 people lose their lives each year as a result of medical errors.
Additionally, medical mistakes are the third-leading cause of fatalities due to heart disease and cancer.
The Standard of Care
Healthcare professionals are expected to provide a particular standard of care, and failing to do so can result in medical malpractice if the patient is harmed as a result. With that stated, not all harm a patient endures is subject to medical malpractice.
A healthcare professional may be held legally responsible for medical malpractice if a patient endures harm or injury due to a deviation from the quality of care that is typically expected in similar scenarios.
In order for medical malpractice to occur, the following factors must be involved:
- Failing to provide an adequate standard of care.
- The law states that medical professionals must follow particular standards, or risk racing a negligence accusation.
- Negligence causes a patient’s injury.
- A medical malpractice claim can only be filed if the patient is able to prove that negligence prompted injury or harm, and that, if the negligence hadn’t occurred, the patient wouldn’t have experienced the injury or harm.
- Damaging consequences must occur.
- The patient needs to describe how the injury or harm resulting from the medical negligence caused considerable damage.
Considerable damage may include:
- Constant pain
- Substantial loss of income
Ultimately, in order to show that a physician has acted negligently when providing care and that negligence caused harm, the following four legal elements must be proven:
- The patient was owed a professional duty,
- There was a breach of duty,
- The breach of duty caused an injury, and
- There were damages incurred as a result of the breach of duty.
It’s important to keep in mind that this can also include failing to take action when something should have been done, which can be considered an act of omission or negligence.
Note: A patient cannot file a claim for medical malpractice simply for being dissatisfied with the outcome of a particular treatment. Instead, malpractice only occurs when negligence and injury occur and the reason for the harm or injury is due to negligence.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
Some instances that may warrant a medical malpractice lawsuit include:
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
- Unwarranted or inaccurate surgery
- Being discharged prematurely
- Failure to order the proper tests or to act on results
- Not following up
- Authorizing the wrong dosage or medication
- Leaving objects inside a patient’s body after surgery
- Conducting an operation on the wrong part of the body
- The patient experiences persistent pain following surgery
- Pressure ulcers (bedsores)
If you believe you may have experienced medical malpractice, it is critical that you reach out to a skilled malpractice attorney right away. These types of cases are often very serious and must be addressed immediately.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team with any questions you may have. We’re ready and prepared to help you now.