What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is defined as an act or omission on the part of a medical professional, during the treatment of a patient, that deviates from the typical accepted norms and practices of the medical community, and results in the injury or death of the patient. This definition can include a wide variety of purposeful or accidental acts that result in harm.
Examples Of Medical Malpractice
There are many ways in which medical malpractice can occur, but the majority of cases will fall under one of the following:
- Failure to properly diagnose a patient.
- Failure to properly treat a patient.
- Errors while prescribing medications.
- Surgical errors.
- Incorrectly administered anesthesia.
- Improper maintenance and use of medical equipment.
- Failure to disclose important information regarding medications, procedures, or diagnoses.
How To Determine If Medical Malpractice Occurred
Medical malpractice is very serious, and when one realizes that preventable harm has come to either themselves or a loved one while under the care of a medical professional, it can be daunting to determine how to proceed, both legally and medically. Generally, if some or all of the following are true of a situation, then medical malpractice is very likely to have occurred:
- A formal relationship between a medical professional and a patient existed, and the negligent actions took place within the context of that relationship. This rule prevents any claims based on actions taken by those in personal relationships with the patient, though exceptions apply.
- The medical professional neglected their duty to remain within the standards of care in the treatment of the patient, and that without that negligence, a competent doctor would have been able to avoid the injury that followed their actions.
- The negligence on part of the doctor directly caused either physical or emotional harm for the patient, often both.
- The outcome of the practitioner’s actions on the patient’s health was predictable, and no unforeseen or previously undiagnosed conditions interfered with the outcome or success of any procedures, medications, or consultations.
- The harm was not a known risk of the treatment or procedure that the patient may have consented to.
How To Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones from Medical Malpractice
- Advocate for yourself, speak up, ask questions.
- Take notes during appointments and calls with your doctor.
- Be aware of any language barriers, and fully understand any treatment plans and the reasoning behind them after appointments.
- When picking up and using prescriptions, make sure you receive the correct medication and the correct dosage. If you feel a mistake has been made, call your doctor to confirm.
- Inform your doctor of any other medical treatments you are undergoing or conditions you may have, so that they can make fully informed decisions, considering conflicts with other medications or planned procedures.
- Ensure that any other persons involved in your care are kept current on important medical information and developments.
How to Proceed If You Suspect that Medical Malpractice May Have Occurred
When medical malpractice first comes to your attention, it is vital that you do not let your emotions guide your actions. Avoid stopping any medications or recommendations against advice, as your continued health and care remain the utmost priority.
First, determine when and how the potential malpractice occurred and request a copy of your medical records and bills from the provider. Write down a timeline of when symptoms occurred, when you saw the provider, and when treatments were started. If you feel that malpractice may have occurred, talk to an attorney right away before time for bringing a claim expires.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended for and should not be used as a replacement for medical or legal advice.