What is Medical Malpractice? What You Need to Know

Medical malpractice is a breach of the standard of care. This means that a healthcare professional failed to meet an acceptable level of practice when treating you or another patient.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are fairly uncommon. But about one in every 100 doctors will have one filed against them at some point in their career. This article covers everything you need to know about medical malpractice and how it can affect your personal injury case.

Read on to learn more about this highly specialized legal field. And how you may be able to recover damages if you’ve been negatively impacted by medical negligence.

What is a standard of care?

A standard of care is the level of care that a reasonable person would provide in a given situation. If a healthcare professional fails to meet that standard of care, they may be found negligent.

But what is reasonable care in a given situation? This can vary widely based on a number of factors. Including the doctor’s experience level and training, your health and condition, and the available resources and facilities.

A standard of care is not a specific medical procedure or regimen. It simply refers to the conduct and actions taken by a medical professional in your specific situation. This means that a professional may fail to meet the standard of care in one instance but be fully compliant in another.

The standard of care is also meant to be flexible and responsive to changes in technology and new developments in the field of medicine. As medical knowledge and capabilities advance, the standard of care changes as well.

Negligence in medical malpractice cases

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional fails to meet the standard of care for a given situation. This means that the doctor’s conduct fell short of what would be expected of a reasonable and prudent professional in the same situation. This can happen in a number of ways.

A healthcare professional may be negligent by failing to do what they should have done (like ordering a necessary test or giving a certain treatment). They can also be negligent by doing what they should not have done (like administering an excessive dose of medication or performing an unnecessary surgery).

Three basic elements

There are three basic elements that need to be present in order to prove negligence in a medical malpractice case:

  • Duty of care: This refers to the fact that every doctor has a duty to provide his or her patients with a certain level of care. The duty of care varies depending on a number of factors. Such as the seriousness of the patient’s condition, the training and expertise of the doctor, and the resources available at a given time.
  • Breach of the standard of care: Next, you must show that the doctor failed to meet the standard of care. This can be shown in a number of ways. But essentially you must demonstrate that the care the doctor provided fell short of what would be expected of a reasonable and prudent professional in the same situation.
  • Damages: Finally, you must show that the negligence caused actual damage or harm to you or your health. This may be shown in a number of ways. For example, if the doctor failed to perform a necessary test and your condition was misdiagnosed. As a result, you may be able to recover damages for the extra time it took to diagnose the correct issue. Also to recover from the complications and financial costs associated with the incorrect diagnosis.

Medical malpractice damages

When you file a medical malpractice claim against an at-fault doctor, the goal is to obtain compensation for the damages and costs associated with the doctor’s negligence. These may include pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost wages, and more. The amount of compensation you receive can vary widely depending on the specifics of your case. Some of the most significant factors include:

  • The severity of your injuries: If you suffered a serious injury or illness due to negligence, you might receive a larger award than if the harm was minor.
  • Your health: If your health was negatively impacted by the negligence, you might be able to receive higher compensation.
  • Your finances: If negligence resulted in you losing out on wages or incurring high costs, you might be able to receive compensation for those losses.
  • The at-fault doctor’s finances: If the doctor has sufficient financial resources, they may have to pay a larger settlement.

How to prove negligence in a medical malpractice case

In order to show that the doctor was negligent, and that negligence caused you harm, you will need to file a lawsuit against the doctor. A lawsuit is the only way to get a court to rule that negligence occurred and order the doctor to compensate you for the damages.

When you file a medical malpractice suit, the court will need to decide whether or not the doctor was negligent. It can do this by reviewing the facts of the case and applying a standard of care to those facts.

Special circumstances where negligence is more obvious

While medical malpractice cases can be difficult to prove, there are some circumstances where negligence is more obvious. These include:

  • The death of a patient: This is a clear example of negligence, as nothing but negligence could have contributed to a patient’s death.
  • A misdiagnosis: If a doctor misdiagnoses a patient’s condition, this is a clear example of negligence.
  • A misprescription: If a doctor prescribes the wrong medication for a given condition, this is another example of negligence. If you believe any of these circumstances apply to your case, it may be easier to prove negligence and get your due compensation.

Summary

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional fails to meet the standard of care for a given situation. This means that the doctor’s conduct fell short of what would anyone expect of a reasonable and prudent professional in the same situation.

This can happen in a number of ways. A healthcare professional may be negligent by failing to do what they should have done (like ordering a necessary test or giving a certain treatment) or by doing what they should not have done (like administering an excessive dose of medication or performing an unnecessary surgery).

To prove negligence in a medical malpractice case, you must show that the doctor failed to meet the standard of care. You can do this by reviewing the facts of your case and applying a standard of care to those facts.