Every person visits a doctor or hospital expecting to improve their health condition. However, sometimes medical treatment does more harm than good. No doctor can guarantee a positive outcome of treatment for serious health conditions like cancer or heart disease. There are chances that despite getting the best possible treatment, the patient’s condition fails to improve. In such a situation when a patient’s health deteriorates after treatment, it’s normal to wonder if the healthcare provider was responsible for it. And this is where medical malpractice or medical negligence comes in!
Meaning of Medical Malpractice
You visit a hospital, doctor’s clinic, or emergency room to get treatment for your health issue. But what if instead of getting better, you get injured in some way? The purpose of seeking medical treatment is to resolve your health problem, not create new ones. Healthcare providers like doctors, nurses, and diagnosis professionals are key parts of the healthcare system. Millions of people get treated successfully each year, but some patients get seriously harmed due to the negligence of medical personnel. Medical malpractice takes place when a health care professional makes an error or neglects their duty to provide appropriate treatment. It involves omission to perform their duty, failure to take appropriate action, or providing substandard treatment. And as a result of this negligence or error, the patient gets harmed, injured, or dies.
The two main elements of medical malpractice are- a breach of duty and an injury or harm resulting from that error or omission. It is noteworthy here that a patient unsatisfied with the treatment outcome doesn’t make him/her a victim of medical malpractice. To file a lawsuit, there has to be a medical error that caused the injury. This error could take place at any stage of treatment- diagnosis, medication dosage, prescription, surgery, health management, or aftercare. If there’s a legit case of medical malpractice, the patient has the right to sue the healthcare provider and recover compensation from any harm caused due to sub-standard treatment.
Before filing a lawsuit, your personal injury lawyer will ensure that your case has all the factors needed to build a strong case. According to law, a case qualifies for medical malpractice if the following factors are involved.
Breach of Duty: The law states that there must be a violation of the standard of care. Every profession has a certain code of standards. Medical professionals also need to follow certain medical standards to ensure patients receive proper treatment and care. If the medical professional fails to deliver care that is consistent with these standards, then it is considered negligence.
Negligence Causes Injury: If the healthcare provider was negligent but the patient is not harmed due to it, there can be no claim. To seek compensation, the patient must prove that he/she sustained an injury due to negligence. Without the negligence, this injury/harm would not have happened.
Damaging Consequences of Injury: The next element of a medical malpractice case is to prove that patient suffered damaging consequences as a result of the injury caused by medical malpractice. This can include added medical expenses, loss of income, disability, pain, and suffering.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice isn’t the same as medical negligence. Medical malpractice is a breach of duty where the medical practitioner has intent or direct knowledge of not carrying out the responsibilities properly. Medical negligence, on the other hand, doesn’t involve intent. Some common examples of such cases that might lead to a lawsuit include:
- Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis
- Wrong medication or dosage
- Misreading or ignoring laboratory results
- Poor follow-up or aftercare
- Unnecessary surgery
- Surgical errors
- Premature discharge
- Not taking appropriate patient history
- Failure to recognize symptoms