Medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the US, the first two positions being taken by heart disease and cancer, as stated the Journal of the American Medical Association. As per the Health Grades ‘Patient Safety in Hospitals’ study, about 195,000 patients die each year in the US from preventable in-hospital medical errors. The largest number of patient safety and medical malpractice cases in the US relate to diagnostic errors. The scenario seems scary, but if you compare it to the total number of patients treated in the same time frame, the numbers of patient safety malpractice cases become miniscule. However, this statistic does not hold any meaning if you are one of those who have suffered due to medical negligence.
Do you think that you have a medical malpractice suit if your doctor or the hospital made a mistake during your treatment? You may or may not – there is a lot more to having a medical malpractice suit than just a patient getting hurt. Read on, to understand what is required to be proven and then fight your medical malpractice suit.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is when your doctor or healthcare professional causes injury or harm to you by either doing or not doing an act during your treatment under them. Medical negligence is needed to be established for filing of a medical malpractice suit. The key factors involved are to show that the healthcare professional made a mistake and that mistake has caused you harm. The key factor here is the ‘standard of care’. Any action or inaction by the medical professional will be judged against the accepted standard. This means that there should be a deviation from the general accepted methods used by other healthcare professionals to treat patients under similar circumstances. This is important because the standards will differ from area to area, across different age groups and previous medical history.
Did the treatment cause further injury?
You may not like the doctor or the healthcare worker because he/she pushed you too hard in order to rehabilitate you or made a mistake by giving you the wrong medication one day. But that is not enough to file a medical malpractice suit. In order to be able to bring a medical malpractice suit against the healthcare worker, doctor or medical center, you need to prove that the mistake has caused you harm, injury or further damage. You also need to prove that this damage is connected to the medical negligence inflicted on you. In most cases, an expert witness is required to explain how the standard of care was breached and that this negligence is responsible for your injury.
Of course, some cases are easy to establish – the amputation of a wrong limb or the absence of an ‘informed consent,’ by the patient for a medical procedure, are two good examples. So, in a nutshell, the requirements for filing a medical malpractice suit are:
- A violation of the standard of care
- An injury caused by this negligence
- The injury resulting in significant damages.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can take many forms. Listed below are examples of some common medical negligence that may lead to a medical malpractice case:
- Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis
- Failure to recognize symptoms
- Failure to order proper testing
- Disregarding or not taking appropriate patient history
- Misreading or ignoring laboratory results
- Improper medication or dosage
- Unnecessary surgery
- Surgical errors or wrong site surgery
- Poor follow-up or aftercare
- Premature discharge
- Boeschen, C. (2015). Medical Malpractice Basics. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from Accidents & Injuries > Medical Malpractice: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/medical-malpractice-basics-29855.html
- Cheeks, D. (2013, May 16). 10 Things You Want To Know About Medical Malpractice. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from Forbes/Personal Finance: http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/05/16/10-things-you-want-to-know-about-medical-malpractice/
- Do I Have a Medical Malpractice Case? (2015). Retrieved October 12, 2015, from Lawyers.com: http://medical-malpractice.lawyers.com/do-i-have-a-medical-malpractice-case.html?page=2
- Nordqvist, C. (2014, September 17). What is medical malpractice? Retrieved October 12, 2015, from Medical News: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248175.php
- What is Medical Malpractice? (2015). Retrieved October 12, 2015, from American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys: http://www.abpla.org/what-is-malpractice