What Is Medical Malpractice?

What Is Medical Malpractice?

According to the Medical Malpractice Center, the third leading cause of death in the United States is medical malpractice. In fact, statistics indicate that there are 80,000 to 100,000 deaths per year in the US as a result of errors in diagnosis. This reality is something that can’t go unchecked.

Do you know someone involved in a medical injury lawsuit?  Read on to learn more about it, as well as to know the legal process that’s involved.  

Defining Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is the legal term for the situation that occurs when a health care professional or provider fails to administer the right medical treatment, fails to take the right action, or gives inadequate treatment that results in impairment, trauma, or death for a patient. 

How do you know when medical malpractice has been committed against a patient? Since individuals who are receiving medical treatment are already sick, how do you know if the symptoms they’re experiencing are due to their illness or a medical malpractice issue? The answer is that it may be complicated to determine this without legal guidance

Types Of Errors

Situations wherein a mistake or neglect may bring about a lawsuit include: 

  • Failing to diagnose a condition or misdiagnosis
  • Unnecessarily performing surgery or doing it incorrectly
  • Discharging a patient from the hospital too soon
  • Not ordering the right tests or not acting on test results
  • Not following up 
  • Prescribing the wrong medication or the wrong dosage
  • Leaving an object inside of the patient’s body during surgery
  • Operating on the wrong part of the body
  • Enduring pain after surgery
  • Possibly fatal infections obtained in the hospital
  • Acquiring bedsores 

Informed Consent

Furthermore, if a patient doesn’t give their informed consent to receive a particular medical procedure, and, as a result, the patient experiences harm or injury, the physician or healthcare provider may be held responsible even if the medical procedure was performed perfectly.

Key Factors Of A Medical Malpractice Case

To established that medical malpractice has occurred, these factors must be proven:

  1. The plaintiff’s attorney must prove that there was a negligence of duty, causing a lack of medical care that another healthcare professional would’ve used.
  2. The medical professional must have caused an emotional or physical injury to the plaintiff. 
  3. There must be enough evidence proving that the medical professional was the cause of the damage. 

What’s Involved In A Medical Malpractice Case?

The plaintiff is the individual who believes they’ve been wronged. This can be the patient themselves, a legal representative of the patient, or, if the patient passed away, it can be the executor of the patient’s estate. Legally speaking, the plaintiff is the one who’s bringing the case against the other person in the court of law, or the one who’s suing for reparations. 

The defendant is the party the legal action is being taken against. In a medical malpractice case, it’s the medical provider.

The Legal Process

To begin, the plaintiff has to file a lawsuit in the court system. 

Before the trial commences, the plaintiff and the defendant are required to share information through discovery. Both parties may decide to settle out of court. In a situation like this, the case will not reach trial. However, if an agreement isn’t reached, the case will go to trial. 

The plaintiff will need to prove without a doubt that the defendant performed their job improperly or was negligent. In general, both sides will present experts to support their facts. 

Before the trial commences, the plaintiff and the defendant are required to share information through discovery.

The judge will then decide who wins, and if monetary reparations are applicable. 

Compensation For Medical Malpractice

Should a patient win a medical malpractice case, they’re subject to being eligible to recover damages for both monetary and non-monetary reasons. Many states set monetary limits on medical malpractice claims, which may set limits on the total amount received. 

Monetary damages or special damages are designed to pay back a victim for financial costs related to the malpractice, such as lost income, if the injuries caused the patient to miss time at work. 

General damages or non-economic damages, on the other hand, aren’t as easy to define in a dollar amount. These are designed to cover the pain and suffering caused by the incident, in addition to any reduction they feel they’ve received in their overall quality of life. 

Final Thoughts

If you suspect that you or a loved one has been in a situation that warrants a filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, speak to your local attorney to help determine if you have a case that can come out on top. 

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