What is Medical Malpractice?
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice can happen when a doctor or other medical professional fails to follow the standards of care for their field of practice. If such failure results in injury to patient, the patient may have a viable claim for medical malpractice.
Most medical malpractice lawsuits are based on a negligence theory of law. This will generally require proof that: the medical professional owed a duty of care to the plaintiff; the professional breached this duty of care; and the breach caused the victim actual, measurable damages.
More serious medical malpractice claims can sometimes involve reckless conduct. For instance, if the professional grossly neglected their duties, it can lead to a higher damages award for the victim.
What Does “Standard of Care” Mean in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the legal basis for the lawsuit is usually negligence. When proving negligence, it’s necessary to prove that the doctor or physician owed the patient a duty of care, and that they breached their standard of care. In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the standard of care can often be the main point of focus of the entire suit.
This is because the standard of care may be different depending on several different factors. For instance, the standard of care may be different for surgical procedures as compared to the standard of care for pharmacists. Generally speaking, persons with more advanced, specific training are held to a higher standard of care. Also, standards of care may be different depending on the area.
Lastly, standards of care can also be subject to change within a given field. This often happens in fields where the applied technology is undergoing rapid change. Thus, in any medical malpractice lawsuit, the expert opinion of a medical professional and a lawyer are usually needed when establishing negligence.
What are Some Examples of Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice can take many different forms, and can involve a wide range of negligent conduct. Some common examples of medical malpractice may include:
- Failure to perform surgery properly
- Misdiagnosis of an illness or failure to diagnose
- Pharmacy errors
- Performing the wrong type of surgery
- Giving inapplicable or dangerous medical advice
- Leaving a sponge or other foreign object inside the patient’s body
- Other types of conduct that breaches medical standards of care
The usual remedy for a medical malpractice claim is a monetary damages award paid from the defendant to the plaintiff. The amount of damages is usually proportionate to the extent of injury and economic loss suffered by the plaintiff. Some states may place limits on medical malpractice damages awards.
Lastly, a statute of limitations will usually be applied to the medical malpractice (i.e., a filing deadline). Thus, victims of medical malpractice should file their lawsuits in a timely manner, preferably soon after the incident occurred.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Medical malpractice lawsuits can sometimes be very challenging. This is especially true if the victim is still recovering from their medical condition. It is highly advisable to hire a lawyer if you or your loved one requires assistance with a medical malpractice claim. Your attorney can provide you with the proper legal advice and guidance to help you obtain an appropriate damages award. Also, your lawyer can be on hand to represent you during any court hearings or proceedings.
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Last Modified: 08-21-2013 12:50 PM PDT
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