Doctors and other health care providers do make mistakes, but not every error is malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when a physician or other medical professional fails to meet accepted standards of care for treating patients. In order to succeed in a medical malpractice claim, a patient must prove that the healthcare provider failed to meet those standards and that the failure caused harm to the patient.
However, medical malpractice cases can be difficult to win because they require a high level of proof. The law requires patients to show that their injuries were caused by an error on the part of the physician—not just by an unfortunate coincidence.
Different types of malpractice.
Medical malpractice comes in different forms, some more common than others. These include:
- Surgical errors. Surgery isn’t without risk, and an unsuccessful procedure doesn’t necessarily mean malpractice. Medical malpractice can only be claimed if the surgeon doesn’t follow the standard of care. Performing the wrong surgery, operating on the wrong part of the body, or leaving equipment in the body can have serious consequences.
- Failure to treat. Sometimes doctors diagnose an illness or injury correctly but don’t recommend the best treatment. For example, a doctor may fail to diagnose appendicitis, leading to a serious infection or even the rupture of the appendix.
- Delayed diagnosis. A delayed diagnosis happens when a doctor doesn’t diagnose a condition fast enough. As a result, the patient’s prognosis can get worse.
- Misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis can occur when a physician fails to identify a condition, fails to recognize its severity, or orders the wrong tests or treatments. As a result, the patient may experience unnecessary pain, suffering, and even death. In this case, the doctor may be liable for any harm caused by negligence.
- Birth injury. Healthcare workers should be prepared to handle the risks and complications that often arise during childbirth. When a medical error occurs during the birthing process, the infant may suffer severe harm and require months or years of care. An obstetrician or hospital delivery team can be held liable for injuries caused by failing to follow standard procedures.
Factors that qualify a medical malpractice claim.
- First Factor. You must have a relationship with a doctor or nurse. You can establish a relationship even by signing up for the first time in your doctor’s office. Nonetheless, if a doctor fails to assist a person who got hit by a car, this is not medical malpractice.
- Second Factor. You must show that your healthcare provider failed to provide the same care as a similar provider. To prove this, you can compare your doctor’s actions to similar ones. For example, if a surgeon performed a procedure that another surgeon with the same level of experience wouldn’t have done, your surgeon could be considered negligent.
- Third Factor. The negligence must have caused you injury or harm as a direct result of the provider’s negligence and not some random occurrence.
- Fourth Factor. The injury or harm caused you damages. You can’t sue if no harm was caused by a medical mistake. However, if your injury resulted in lost wages, pain and suffering, or other damages, then you can sue.
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