Both physicians and patients pay a hefty price for medical malpractice whether it be monetarily, emotionally or physically. But what exactly is medical malpractice, you may be wondering. Medical malpractice is defined as a hospital doctor or other medical professional causes the injury or death of a patient as a result of negligence or omission. Navigating the legalities of malpractice can get a little complicated, but lawalways and an experienced attorney can make sure that your claim is well founded and taken seriously.
According to The Law
In order for your claim to be legally considered medical malpractice, it has to meet some very specific criteria. There must be a violation of the standard of care. Any patient should expect a certain standard of care that has been recognized by the profession as reasonable and acceptable. When this standard of care isn’t met, there is cause for concern.
Second, there has to be an injury caused by negligence or omission. Not only does the medical professional have to be proven to have violated the medical standard of care, they also have to be responsible for the injury or death of a patient. The patient must also show that the injury would not have occurred had there been no negligence. Being dissatisfied with a medical outcome is not the same thing.
Lastly, the injury has to result in substantial damages. Because medical malpractice claims are so expensive and time consuming, minor injuries tend to go unprosecuted since the cost of the injury will be significantly outweighed by the time, effort and cost of pursuing the claim. The plaintiff will need to prove substantial injury, loss of wages, disability, unusual pain and suffering and medical bills (future and past).
Examples of Malpractice
There are many instances that can be considered medical malpractice, and it can occur at any point of medical treatment. Here are some examples, but there are many other scenarios. Be sure to consult with an experienced attorney to be sure that your claim is pursuable.
- Giving a patient another patient’s medication.
- Misdiagnosing or failing to diagnose a patient.
- Premature discharge.
- Misinterpreting or failing to read laboratory reports.
- Delaying care and treatment
- A patient does not give informed consent for treatment.
What to Expect
Malpractice suits tend to be very lengthy and involve a lot of people. One of the first things that will happen is called discovery. During the discovery phase, your attorney, medical professional or hospital and insurance representatives will exchange information and review it. There will likely be depositions, subpoenas and lots of research. Once this is done and your case meets all the legal requirements, a settlement will be sought. If one cannot be reached, a trial will occur and your case will be decided. Your attorney can give you a more detailed outlook.
Medical malpractice cases are fairly common, so be sure to work with a licensed attorney that is familiar with the specifics of your particular circumstances and has experience with malpractice cases. They can give you some peace of mind so that you can focus more on your health and recovery.