It can be very hard to prove medical negligence cases. The defendant is a doctor who is well respected and hard working. This can make it difficult to make a case against a doctor who was negligent and that negligence resulted in injury and damage to the patient.
When a health care provider has deviated from the standard of care in the community in which they practice, the patient may suffer harm. The standard of care is determined by looking at the standard way a competent medical practitioner in the same area of practice in the same community and similar training would practice. The percentage of medical malpractice cases that are pursued is very small because of their difficulty in obtaining an expert witness to explain the standard of care and offer an opinion in whether the standard had not been met.
Family practitioners are one type of doctor that commits medical malpractice. These practitioners are doctors specializing in primary care and family medicine. In the United States there are more than 100,000 active family practitioners. In order to become a family practitioner a person must attend medical school and spend three years in a residency program that includes pediatric, internal medicine, psychiatry, surgery, obstetrics, gynecology, and family medicine. If he or she graduates from medical school and they spend one year in a family medicine residency, they can then provide people with acute care, which includes diagnosing and treating the common cold or flu, as well as chronic are, which includes maintenance care for diabetes or obesity. They also provide preventative care and health education.
The role of family practitioners is very important as they are often the first to see a health problem and patients will often ask them for referrals to specialists. Busy family practitioners may commit medical malpractice if they do not make a referral to a specialist when a patient needs the knowledge of that specialist. Other errors a family practitioner may make include failure to:
- Order appropriate lab work,
- Order diagnostic studies,
- Screen for cancer,
- Screen for heart disease,
- Take the patients history, and
- Prescribe the correct medications.
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