September 19, 2017

Medical Malpractice

When injury or illness forces one to seek a medical professional, there needs to be an acceptable standard of treatment to protect each patient. Although medical professionals exist for the sole purpose of providing care and treatment to patients, human error is always possible. Medical malpractice goes beyond simple human error to professional negligence, where the negligence, either by act or omission, causes injury or death to the patient through medical error. Medical error can include errors in diagnosis, treatment, or patient management.

The concept of medical malpractice is not limited to medical doctors and can include nurses, anesthesiologists, health care facilities, and others that provide health care services. Medical malpractice laws are meant to protect the rights of each patient and proving medical negligence can be complex and costly. To establish medical negligence, there must be 4 elements proven by the plaintiff as follows:

  1. A duty of care was owed to the patient.
  2. Treatment fell below the accepted standard of practice by violating the applicable standard of care.
  3. There was some injury to the patient.
  4. As a result of substandard treatment, the patient suffered the injury.

The burden of proving these elements lies on the plaintiff in a malpractice lawsuit. There needs to be a predetermined amount of money for the suit before the claim can continue. Medical malpractice lawyers determine this amount using previous precedents, along with the details of the individual case. Compensation for medical malpractice is usually based on the amount of damage a patient has sustained. All damages are given a monetary value and can include lost wages, pain and suffering and punitive damages.

In response to rising malpractice suits, many states have passed legislation making it difficult to prevail in medical malpractice suits. Most states also have a statute that caps the amount of damages that can be awarded. However, physician negligence can have very severe consequences for patients and the law is in existence to supply such patients with options.