What Constitutes as Medical Malpractice?

A doctor banging his head realizing a mistake he forgot isolated on white background

Medical malpractice leads to over 200,000 deaths per year in the US, and a lot of the people that live through malpractice will file a lawsuit. You have a right to file a lawsuit if you were harmed in any way due to the negligence of a doctor, but that doesn’t mean that every error is medical malpractice.

The majority of claims are related to misdiagnosis, with 34% of payouts for misdiagnosis, 22% for surgical errors, 20% for treatment errors, 11% for obstetric errors and the remaining for other preventable errors.

What is Malpractice?

Every medical mistake may be serious to you, but not all medical mistakes are considered malpractice. There are times when a doctor or surgeon does everything properly, and in the end, there was an error that resulted in malpractice.

No one wants to deal with their doctor making mistakes, but everyone does make mistakes.

The incident must meet certain requirements to be deemed malpractice:

  • Standard of care must have been breached by the medical professional
  • The error must have resulted in the patient suffering an injury
  • The mistake was the cause of the person’s injury

When you go into a doctor’s office, there is a standard of care that you must assume the doctor will provide. A medical professional must follow guidelines and proper diagnostic procedures.

But when a medical professional does not follow these standards, they may be in breach of contract.

You must be able to prove that the doctor breached the standard of care. If the case goes to court, experts will have to take the stand and dictate what steps that they would have taken in your medical situation. If these experts would have done the same as the doctor, with the same skill and experience levels, you likely do not have a case.

This would be a medical error.

But if other doctors would have been able to diagnose your condition with ease, then you have a case.

The error must have resulted in some form of an injury. If the error didn’t lead to an injury, it’s hard to prove that the error actually resulted in any harm being done to you. The mistake will also need to be the cause of the injury.

For example, let’s assume that the doctor failed to diagnose the early stages of liver cancer. Perhaps in the early stage, you can remove a small part of the liver that has a cancerous tumor and be fine. But the doctor missed the diagnosis, and the end result is that your liver is now covered in tumors and you’ll need a transplant.

The doctor, if they had diagnosed the condition properly the first time, made an error that led to you having to have a transplant or resulted in your condition worsening.

All medical malpractice cases will need proof, and this burden is on you and your legal team. If the standard of care was breached, you have a good case. But if there were no injuries caused or no worsening of a condition, you may not have a case.

It’s best to discuss your case with a lawyer who can assess all of the facts.

Previous Story What Happens if You’re Injured While Telecommuting? article thumbnail mt-3

What Happens if You’re Injured While Telecommuting?

Next Story What Should I Tell Students About Vaping? article thumbnail mt-3

What Should I Tell Students About Vaping?