Medical malpractice is much more rampant than you thought it is. It is ironic, that though the medical rules and regulations have become more stringent in the past few years, cases of medical malpractice have risen in the same period too.
While one can’t generalize and say that all medical professionals and institutions are indulging in medical malpractice, it is definitely an issue of concern. When people go to a health profession they, or their loved ones are already in a ailing condition, and they seek solutions and care from doctors. When an action of a medical professional leads to further deterioration in the condition of the patient, or unprecedented damage to the patient, and the patient’s family, it results in medical malpractice.
In this post we discuss the various elements of a medical malpractice case and how to tackle it. We believe aware patients make the smartest patients. Continue reading and find out important facts about medical malpractice.
What is Medical Malpractice?
According to National Center for Biotechnology Information, medical malpractice is defined as ‘any act or omission by a physician during treatment of a patient that deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community and causes an injury to the patient. Medical malpractice is a specific subset of tort law that deals with professional negligence’
What is the difference between Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence?
Let us begin by saying that both medical negligence and medical malpractice have grave consequences and penalties attached to them. However, legally they are different terms and you need to know the difference between the two. Medical negligence is classified as actions without intent. Incorrect diagnosis, failure to do a diagnostic revision, failure to treat a patient or incomplete information about risks associated with treatment prescribed, are all examples of medical negligence.
The ‘mal’of medical malpractice in Latin means bad intent. Medical malpractice clearly includes presence of a bad intention. Medical malpractice is to perform the medical procedure in a way that is not within the accepted standards of care and causes serious injury or death.
Not following the documented medical standards, anesthesia errors, surgical errors, errors during childbirth causing cerebral palsy in the child and other unpardonable actions that results in permanent injury or death are considered as medical malpractice.
Being on the Receiving End of Medical Negligence
It’s not always medical negligence if the results of a treatment don’t turn out how they were supposed to be. Bad outcomes are not proof of medical negligence.
It is important to establish legally that you are a victim of medical malpractice. According to the United States law, medical malpractice must contain these four elements.
- Legal attachment of the doctor or health care provider to provide treatment to the patient- prevalence of a legal binding
- Failure to adhere to the standards of the medical profession- Breach of Duty
- Actions of doctor, nurses or health care providers leading to injury or adversary condition of the patient- causal relationship between doctor’s actions and condition of patient
- The injuries or damages inflicted by the healthcare professional are such that there are possible legal amendments available- Legally compensable injury or damages occurred
The above four legal elements must be established to prove that you have been on the receiving end of medical malpractice and your claims are justified.
Establishing Causal Relationship Between Breach of Duty and Consequent Damages
You need to understand that the crux of a medical malpractice case lies in the creation of the causal relationship. Let us understand how this works with the help of an example.
So you experience some unidentified symptoms. You go to the doctor. The doctor diagnoses you incorrectly without administering multiple tests on you and prescribes you certain drugs. Medical negligence has already occurred. The doctor was not supposed to medicate you till the tests were conducted and the results received.
The breach of duty has already taken place. The doctor’s actions were not in accordance with the medical standards prescribed, i:e diagnosis and medication only after conducting proper tests. Now, just imagine you develop a condition that causes you severe pain and trauma after taking those medications. Soon you experience a severe form of paralysis and tremors as the medicines recommended contain elements that you are allergic to.
The other possible situation is that the recommended medicines have absolutely no effect on the growing ailment in your body. As a result of this, your condition deteriorates. Non-action keeps making the problem worse.
You go back to the doctor. Dubious about his own treatment and seeing the pain you are undergoes, he now asks you to undergo various tests. The tests reveal your actual problem which was not identified earlier due to misdiagnosis. By now your condition has worsened, and you realize that while you were just taking pain killers all this while for a piercing but uncomplicated pain, you actually have had Hernial all this while, and now your condition is severely damaged because of wrong diagnosis and medication.
Now you will need to prove and establish that the doctor’s actions cause this aggravation of your medical condition and you and your family are undergoing physical, emotional and financial trauma because of his actions. Remember, paperwork at every step will be required to prove medical malpractice or medical negligence.
Take Legal Help to Receive Appropriate Compensation
Medical malpractice cased are among the most difficult cases to tackle. It is very possible that your healthcare provider will completely try to deny the charges or pin your medical condition to an earlier health care provider, or your body composition and provide medical proof in black and white to completely unsubstantiate your case. So the first thing you need to do when you suspect medical negligence or malpractice, is to approach a medical malpractice attorney, get a confirmation from him, assess the legal strength and scope of your case and then move forward to receive your due compensation.
We spoke to the best attorneys in the field. While all spoke about the legal elements involved and the process of pursuing the case, a renowned medical malpractice attorney from Washington had some interesting and important inputs to share. “More medical malpractice and negligence cases are happening now than ever before. However, a lot of patients and their families are choosing not to pursue legit medical malpractice cases for fear of extensive personal and financial costs in suing the faulty party. This should not be the case. Patients, and legal professionals need to make sure this stops, and the victim patient and his/her family get compensated properly.”
It is it with this motive and goal, we want you to know and be aware of the prevalence of medical malpractice and steps to deal with it, if unfortunately you ever happen to face it.
Matt Conner is an associate attorney at Brett McCandlis Brown Law Firm. Matt has undergraduate degree from from Willamette University in Salem in mathematics and economics. Matt likes playing soccer, fishing, skiing and camping.