Medical malpractice is when a medical professional or entity, such as a hospital, causes injury to a patient due to negligent actions. These negligent actions can vary in nature – misdiagnosis, surgical errors, or wrongful death, for example.
In a malpractice case, the burden of proof is on the patient. That means the patient must prove, by using evidence, that the healthcare worker or company caused their injury or illness and that they suffered financial and physical damages as a result. The burden of proof in injury claims, including malpractice, is not the same as in criminal court. The plaintiff (victim) doesn’t have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt; instead, they must prove by a preponderance of the evidence.
While medical errors happen and patients can suffer injuries, it is important to understand that not all poor outcomes are malpractice. Therefore, you must make sure your claim qualifies as malpractice. And one of the best ways to do so is to speak with an attorney about your case.
Instances where a Case Could be Medical Malpractice
Certain poor outcomes are the result of malpractice, and almost always result in a lawsuit against the medical practitioner or the healthcare company. One thing these instances have in common is that the healthcare worker or entity did not provide the patient with the acceptable standard of care expected in their industry – thus leading to the patient’s adverse results.
Cases of Medical Negligence
Medical negligence can happen at any level of the healthcare chain, and it is not just physicians who can be found medically negligent. Anyone involved in the patient’s care, from nurses to aides to specialists, can also be found negligent.
Medical negligence happens when a healthcare worker does not provide the standard of care that another, with similar expertise and practicing in the same field, would provide. Some situations that can lead to claims of malpractice include:
- Surgical errors
- Procedure errors
- Failure to diagnose
- Failure to get consent from a patient
- Failure to notify the patient of all applicable risks
- Administering the wrong type of medication or wrong dose of the right medication
When determining if a doctor or health care worker is negligent, the law considers a few questions such as:
- Was the appropriate standard of care given to the patient in the specific situation?
- Would another healthcare worker with similar expertise have acted differently in the same situation?
- Did the at-fault party deviate from the acceptable standard of care?
- Was that deviation the direct cause of the patient’s injury or further illness?
- Did the patient suffer damages?
To answer these questions, both sides will rely on medical experts. These experts testify as to whether the appropriate standard of care applies, how it was breached, and how that breach led to the patient’s injuries. As you can expect, the defense will have their expert who will testify there was no breach, while the victim’s side would have an expert testifying otherwise.
It becomes an issue of which expert is more credible and how the evidence ties into their testimony.
Instances where It Is Not Medical Malpractice
As stated before, not all negative outcomes are malpractice. Just because a patient doesn’t get better does not mean that the doctor did not fulfill his or her duties. Also, a misdiagnosis is not always malpractice, especially if the physician did everything in their power to investigate and identify the proper diagnosis – and other physicians would have used similar methods and come up with similar results.
Some instances where it is not malpractice might include:
When a Patient’s Condition Worsens
A doctor cannot always control the outcome of a condition, especially a chronic condition without any cure. If the doctor properly diagnosed the patient, gives them the recommended treatment that is part of the acceptable standard of care, and the patient worsens, that is not usually a case for malpractice. Now, if the doctor diagnosed correctly, but gave the incorrect medication or didn’t follow up to see if they should adjust, it could be considered malpractice.
If, however, the doctor acted with the reasonable standard of care, made correct decisions and follow ups, but the patient worsened, it is not malpractice.
When a Patient’s Condition Is Incurable or Has No Treatment
Sometimes, a patient’s condition is out of a physician’s hands, and there is only so much they can do to help alleviate symptoms but not cure the patient’s condition. As long as, during that treatment, the physician makes proper decisions, handles all care procedures in accordance with the acceptable standard of care, and they do not make any mistakes that worsen the patient’s pain and suffering, then they are not negligent.
Malpractice Claims Are Especially Challenging and Highly Emotional – You Need a Legal Professional to Help with Your Case
Dealing with a medical error is not only physically painful, but emotionally painful as well. You are dealing with medical costs and frustration because a person you trusted has made you feel worse rather than better. Now you have to identify whether you have a case for medical malpractice or not. It is in your best interest to speak with an attorney and see if your case qualifies for compensation.
If you can receive compensation, then you may receive funds to cover:
- Medical costs stemming from the error and any future treatments you may need while you recover.
- Lost wages to recover from the injury or illness, or your loss of total earning capacity if you cannot work.
Speak with a Local Attorney Today
If you or a loved one suspect that you are the victim of medical malpractice, it is in your best interest to talk with a lawyer and see if you have a case.
Attorney Seth Gladstein can help you with your claim. He has helped countless patients just like you to hold physicians and hospitals accountable for their actions and help them to receive compensation that they deserve for the damages caused by that medical negligence.
Get started today by contacting attorney, Seth Gladstein, at the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC. You can call to schedule a free case evaluation, or you can connect online to ask questions about your potential case.