Medical malpractice is negligence that applies to person in the medical profession. The term is used to generally describe any treatment or the lack thereof, or a departure from the accepted standards of medical care, health care, or safety by the health care provider that results in harm to the patient. Medical mistakes are not rare with around 98,000 people dying every year due to errors that could have been prevented. Given their training and expertise, medical professionals are expected to possess the same knowledge, skill, and care as other professionals doing the same job and are held to a standard higher than the average person.
Generally to show medical malpractice the claimant needs to show that:
- There was a duty owed to the patient by the health care provider,
- The provider breached the duty,
- There was an injury suffered by the patient, and
- The proximate cause of the patient’s injury was the provider’s breach.
When a doctor agrees to care for a patient, a “doctor-patient” relationship has been formed. Once this occurs the doctor then owes a duty to the patient. However, even if a duty existed and the doctor breached that duty, there cannot be any recovery unless there are injuries suffered by the patient that were a direct result of the breach. If there was no injury then there cannot be any recovery.
Types of medical malpractice claims can include:
- Wrongful death,
- Failure to diagnose an illness,
- Medication errors,
- Anesthesia errors,
- Birth injuries,
- Orthopedic mismanagement,
- Emergency room errors,
- Hospital mismanagement, and
- Wrong site or wrong side surgery as well as other surgical errors.
When a medical professional makes an error resulting in injury to someone they may be found negligent. However the error must be the kind that no medical professional who possesses the same knowledge, specialty, and background would make. Additionally, the nature and how severe the injuries are may determine whether the claim is actionable. Damages may be awarded based on the severity of the injury but it can be difficult to appreciate the physical, emotional, and financial impact the injury has or will have.
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