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Medical Malpractice Definition

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Medical Negligence Definition

Medical negligence has a special name, which is “medical malpractice.” Medical negligence occurs when a medical professional, such as a doctor or nurse, is negligent in caring for a patient. Medical negligence proof is different from common law negligence proof because of the focus on the medical professional’s actions.

Duty of Care

A medical professional is held to a higher standard of conduct because he or she receives special training and education to care for patients. Thus, in medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff must prove that the medical professional breached his duty of care to the patient.

To show that a breach of the duty of care occurred, the plaintiff must prove that the doctor’s actions fell outside the realm of acceptable medical practices.

Doctors and nurses are trained in medical school. They also receive training through internships and residencies. During all of these years of schooling and training, the doctors and nurses are taught accepted and standard methods for treating certain illnesses and conditions. When a doctor or nurse fails to follow this standard method by either doing nothing or doing something that is not accepted by the medical community, the doctor or nurse has breached the duty of care.

Proof in Medical Malpractice Cases

The proof in medical malpractice cases relies on the testimony of expert medical witnesses. An expert medical witness for the plaintiff will evaluate the plaintiff’s condition by looking at x-rays or examining the plaintiff. The expert witness will also investigate the circumstances surrounding the injury, as well as what actions the doctor or nurse took at this time. The plaintiff’s expert will then testify that the doctor acted negligently by breaching the duty of care.

The defendant will also have an expert medical witness who may also evaluate the plaintiff or his medical records. The defendant’s expert witness may argue that the plaintiff had preexisting injuries or that the doctor did not breach a duty of care.

In addition, some defendant doctors may argue that while the procedure they performed or prescription they prescribed may not be the norm, their actions are accepted by the medical community. This will lead to more complex and in-depth investigations and testimony regarding what is scientifically accepted in the medical community.

Do I Need a Lawyer in a Medical Negligence Case?

Medical malpractice lawsuits are extremely complex and contain very technical information. They cannot be handled pro se by litigants who are not familiar with medicine or the court system. A personal injury lawyer can help you seek compensation for your injuries by pursuing a medical malpractice claim against a doctor or hospital.

Photo of page author Jessica Long

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 12-21-2015 09:32 AM PST

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