Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor (or another medical professional) harms a patient as a result of any act or omission by the medical professional during treatment that deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community.  Medical malpractice is an expansive topic with a broad category of rules that apply to most cases.

Despite common belief, not every error, negative outcome, or general patient dissatisfaction with a medical procedure falls into the category of medical malpractice. A doctor cannot efficaciously be sued for medical malpractice because she did not meet a patient’s expectations. Similarly, sometimes a doctor’s medical error does not qualify as medical malpractice. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss what qualifies as medical malpractice and the three most common types of malpractice cases. If you have additional questions regarding the specifics of your situation, please contact us at The Doctor Lawyer Firm by calling 1-833-MedMals, emailing us at info@thedoctorlawyerfirm.com, or filling out our online contact form. Our experienced, medical malpractice lawyers are here to help you with your case. 

What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice? 

As stated, not every unsatisfactory medical experience constitutes filing a malpractice suit. There are a few conditions that must be met to have a medical malpractice case. Here are four basic requirements:

1. A doctor-patient working relationship existed. The patient and the doctor in question must have had a working relationship, meaning the patient must have hired the doctor, and the doctor must have agreed to be hired. The working relationship might come into question if the suit is filed against a consulting physician who did not directly provide treatment to the patient.

2. Medical negligence existed. Plaintiffs must prove that medical negligence was present in how the doctor treated or diagnosed their specific condition. Medical negligence is often the core of malpractice suits, with the success of the case hinging on this vital legal concept.

3. The doctor’s negligence caused the injury. A doctor’s negligence must have caused the injury in question. Many patients experienced conditions prior to the medical event; these prior conditions existing after the event do not substantiate a case. The injury must be a proven direct result of the physician’s negligent actions. This can sometimes be difficult to prove– certain diseases, like cancer, can make the situation unclear. If a cancer patient dies after a medical procedure and the doctor was, in fact, negligent, it can be hard to prove the death was a result of negligence versus a result of cancer.

4. The injury led to specific damages. A typical consideration in a medical malpractice suit is that the injury sustained from the medical professional’s negligence resulted in specific and direct damages. Some types of damages the patient may experience are physical pain, emotional anguish, loss of employment/earning capacity, or added medical bills.   

In addition to these basic elements, there are a few special considerations to be aware of when you file a malpractice suit. 

The statute of limitations depends on which state you are in, though it is often between six months and two years during which you can file the lawsuit. Some states start the statute of limitations clock when the medical event occurs, others start it when the patient initially discovers the injury. 

Another special consideration is the notice a patient is required to give the doctor regarding the intent to file suit, and there might also be a cap on the compensation plaintiffs can receive from a malpractice lawsuit. Lastly, a crucial feature of a medical malpractice case is the need for expert testimony.

A seasoned medical malpractice lawyer will help you prove that the above basic requirements existed in your specific case and help you navigate the complex world of malpractice to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. 

Common Types of Medical Malpractice 

There are many events that can lead to a medical malpractice suit, from an instrument or gauze being left inside of a patient or failure to diagnose a patient during an exam, to providing the wrong medication or dosage. However, there are four common categories malpractice cases fall under: 

1. Failure to Diagnose. A viable case may exist if a patient can prove that a competent doctor would have diagnosed their condition or made an alternative diagnosis, which would have led to a more positive outcome. 

2. Improper Treatment. This happens when the medical professional in question treats the patient in a way that no competent professional would have. Similarly, a case may exist if a doctor chooses the proper treatment but delivers it to the patient in an incompetent manner.

3. Failure to Warn of Known Risks. It is a doctor’s duty to warn patients of potential known risks of a procedure or treatment. This is called the Duty of Informed Consent. If the patient, having known the risks, would have opted to forgo the recommended treatment or procedure and the patient has been injured as a direct result of the treatment or procedure, you could have a malpractice case. 

Who Can be Guilty of Malpractice?

It’s important to know that medical mistakes are not exclusive to doctors. Nurses, anesthesiologists, health care facilities, pharmaceutical companies, and other medical professionals/entities can be sued for medical malpractice. Some examples of mistakes that could be made by anyone in the medical field is providing incorrect medication or dosage to a patient, failure to notice an alarming vitals reading, or misreading an X-ray or MRI. These mistakes can span the entire healthcare industry from medical assistants to surgeons.

Conclusion

To have a malpractice case, certain elements must be present, and there are a few common types of cases we see. It can be difficult to bring a malpractice case against a medical professional, as the system is designed to both eliminate frivolous cases and strengthen cases before they go to court. It’s advisable to contact a malpractice attorney today to get the compensation you deserve. 

If you have reason to believe that your case may fall under any of the above categories and meets the basic requirements, contact our experienced medical malpractice lawyers today for a consultation. Call us today at 1-833-MedMals or email us at info@thedoctorlawyerfirm.com.