Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider’s care falls below the relevant standard of care and the patient is injured as a result. These cases are some of the most complex personal injury cases due to the complicated legal and medical issues involved with them.
Standard of Care
The standard of care is the level of care that a healthcare provider in the same specialty area as the defendant healthcare provider with a similar background who practiced in a similar community would provide under similar circumstances.
Some common examples of medical malpractice include:
- Failure to diagnose a patient’s illness or injury in a timely manner
- Misdiagnosis of a patient injury or illness
- Improper administration of anesthesia
- Leaving a surgical instrument in a patient
- Performing a procedure on the wrong patient or body part
- Administering the wrong type of medication
- Recklessly hiring an incompetent healthcare provider
- Understaffing the hospital or medical clinic that results in patient injury
What Must Be Proven in a Medical Malpractice Case
For the plaintiff to recover compensation in a medical malpractice case, he or she must prove the following elements:
- Standard of care – Often, the plaintiff must hire a medical expert who discusses the appropriate standard of care in the situation
- Breach of the standard of care – The medical expert then discusses how the defendant healthcare provider violated the standard of care
- Proximate causation – The defendant’s actions or lack of actions must be the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury
- Damages – The plaintiff must show that he or she was harmed in some way because of the breach of the standard of care, such as requiring additional medical procedures, disability, and extreme pain and suffering. Because of the expensive cost of this kind of litigation and the frequency of verdicts in favor of the healthcare provider, malpractice suits are filed only for serious permanent injury or death.