Most people are familiar with the term “medical malpractice,” but what does it really mean? From a legal perspective, it’s a serious violation of patient rights with a specific definition that far exceeds whether a patient is happy with the results of a medical treatment. It does not, however, apply to every medical mistake.
Medical malpractice is a legal cause of action that occurs when a hospital, doctor or other health care professional deviates from a recognized standard of care and injures a patient, whether through a negligent act or the omission of a reasonably expected act. Successful claims in most cases must establish three distinct elements:
- A recognized standard of care was breached
- An injury occurred because of the violation
- The injury caused significant damages to the patient
Medical malpractice events take many forms, such as misdiagnosing a serious health condition, misreading or ignoring laboratory results, premature discharge from a hospital, dispensing improper medication or dosage, or failing to account for a patient’s personal health history. These situations can cause serious harm and they are not legally acceptable practices.
The medical field has high standards of care for obvious reasons. Patients literally put their lives in the hands of those who treat them. Therefore, every patient has the right to expect health care facilities and licensed medical professionals to abide by pre-established care standards. When they don’t, they are likely negligent. The reward, however, isn’t automatic.
For a case to be viable, the patient may need to show that significant damages resulted from an injury received due to medical negligence. The patient then must show that the injury resulted in disability, loss of income, unusual pain, suffering and hardship, or significant past and future medical bills. Keep in mind that medical malpractice lawsuits are expensive to litigate and often require the testimony of medical experts and hours upon hours of depositions.
Litigation can be extremely complicated, and finding the right attorney for your needs is critical. If you believe that you or a family member may have been the victim of medical malpractice resulting in serious injury, do not wait to consult a qualified medical malpractice attorney immediately. We welcome you to contact our office, any time, day or night, to discuss your case with a member of our local legal team.