Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional acts negligently, resulting in harm or loss to a patient. To legally prove medical malpractice occurred, the following criteria must be met:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed
- The doctor or medical professional was negligent
- The doctor's or medical professional's negligence caused injuries, harm, or loss
- You suffered damages as a result of the medical malpractice
Many types of healthcare professionals may commit medical malpractice, including doctors, nurses, physician's assistants, and other medical professionals. A healthcare professional that fails in their duties may be financially responsible for your damages.
Medical Malpractice and the Standard of Care
Negligent conduct is defined as a violation of the standard of care in medical malpractice cases. Factors that are considered in determining the applicable standard of care include:
- The doctor's profession and specialized training
- The warnings and/or potential complications provided to a patient for a given treatment or procedure, or the failure to provide such warnings
- The location and circumstances of the medical treatment facility
- The skills required for the medical treatment or procedure performed
- Emergent vs planned nature of a treatment or procedure
Medical Malpractice and the Duty of Care
Medical professionals owe a duty of care to their patients at all times. A doctor is required to provide adequate care to patients and this duty is assumed as soon as the doctor begins to care for the person.
What's the Difference Between Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence occurs when a doctor or medical professional fails to provide the applicable standard of care that could cause harm to a patient. This is usually unintended and therefore results in unintentional harm.
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional knowingly fails to meet the appropriate standard of care, or, based on their training and expertise, should have known. This does not require that a doctor intended to cause harm, but that their conduct contributed to causing harm. If it can be proven that harm to a patient may have been avoided if alternative measures had been taken, a valid medical malpractice claim may exist.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
Error in Diagnosis
A doctor is often tasked with diagnosing a patient's illness or condition. When they make mistakes in their diagnosis, their mistakes could be considered medical malpractice. When a reasonable doctor with similar training and expertise would have made the correct diagnosis, malpractice has likely occurred.
Treatment errors can occur in two ways. A doctor may choose the wrong method of treatment for the medical condition. Alternatively, the doctor may perform the treatment incorrectly and cause harm as a result.
Medical professionals must take great care in prescribing medicine. When an incorrect drug is prescribed, it can lead to extremely serious injuries or even death.
Surgical errors may fail to address the problem that the surgery was designed to fix. Surgical errors can cause even further damage to the patient.
What Qualifies as a Medical Malpractice Claim/Lawsuit?
A legitimate medical malpractice claim must usually cover the following elements:
A Doctor-Patient Relationship Existed
This relationship occurs when a patient asks for treatment and a doctor agrees. This does not require a prior or longstanding relationship with the medical professional. Even a one-time treatment by a doctor or other medical professional may be sufficient here.
Medical Professional Negligence
The patient and their lawyer must prove that the doctor's treatment fell below the applicable standard of care. The doctor must fail to act as another reasonable medical professional would have in the same or similar situation.
An Injury or Medical Error Caused by Negligence
The patient must also prove that not only did the medical professional act negligently but also that the negligence resulted in harm. This is called causation and requires that your medical malpractice attorney connect the medical negligence to the injury to prove that the harm was caused by the medical professional’s negligent actions.
Damages That Occurred Due to Injury
Harm such as physical injury, failure to treat, psychological harm, and much more result from medical malpractice. The patient and their attorney must prove the extent of these damages.
How to Prove Medical Malpractice
Proving medical malpractice in court requires a great deal of experience and skill. A knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney will seek to prove the claim by:
- Collecting evidence and investigating potential negligence
- Hiring expert witnesses to demonstrate how a doctor's negligence caused injuries
- Reviewing medical records, bills, and other evidence
- Providing evidence that proves each element of medical malpractice
These efforts and many others are required to successfully prove a medical malpractice claim in court. This is not a type of case that should be handled without the help of a skilled medical malpractice lawyer. Complex legal requirements exist for medical malpractice cases and proving them in court without the help of a lawyer can be impossible.
What Should I Do if Medical Malpractice Occurred?
If you or a loved one has suffered from medical malpractice, you should immediately seek other medical attention. You have been injured and need to protect yourself. In addition to protecting yourself, further treatment may help prove the medical negligence of the original healthcare professional. This can be crucial for a successful medical malpractice claim.
You should keep any medical records, bills, or other documents you have and continue to do so throughout your treatment. You should contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. There are time limits on filing medical malpractice claims, some of which can be short. You don’t want to lose your opportunity to financially recover because you waited too long to file a claim.
Should I File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
If you’ve been injured after or during medical treatment, you may be entitled to file a medical malpractice claim.
Our team can help you best determine how to proceed. When medical negligence is to blame, our attorneys will go to work immediately to build and pursue a powerful case on your behalf.
To have your case reviewed, contact our medical malpractice lawyers at 855-957-3266. It costs you nothing to call and ask us to evaluate your situation – we are here to help you. We are a contingency-fee-based practice. What this means is that there are no fees or costs to you unless and until we prevail through either a favorable settlement or jury verdict.
You can schedule a free consultation with us to learn more about your options. You do not have to know for certain if medical malpractice is to blame; you can consult with our team of professionals who have successfully handled many medical malpractice lawsuits nationwide.
Ratzan Weissman & Boldt has built its reputation on helping ordinary people hold big corporations and insurance companies accountable for their actions. Over just the last seven years, our award-winning medical malpractice and wrongful death attorneys have won over $200 million in trial verdicts alone all across the country.
Let us put our experience to work for you. Contact us today.