What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is considered professional negligence within the field of medicine; it is an omission by a health care provider in which formal care deviates from the accepted practice or standards of the medical community. To be considered Medical Malpractice, these negligent or fraudulent actions, must cause an injury or death to the underlying patient.
Regulations and standards for medical malpractice will vary greatly between countries and jurisdictions.
All medical professionals are required to maintain a form of professional liability insurance to counteract the risks and costs associated with medical malpractice. Depending on the circumstances, a doctor or medical professional would be liable for mishaps that revolve around surgery, prescribing drugs or medication, or faulty diagnoses.
Medical Malpractice Claim
Similar to most forms of litigation, there are two sides in a medical malpractice case. The plaintiff in a medical malpractice case is the patient, or the legally designated party that acts on behalf of the patient.
The defendant, in turn, is the health care providers. The term ‘health care provider’ typically refers to the physician who’s actions precipitated the case; however, the defendant in a medical malpractice suit can take the form of any medical care provider, including nurses, therapists, and dentists.
Elements of Medical Malpractice
In order to reach a favorable outcome, a plaintiff must establish all four elements of the tort of negligence. Medical malpractice claims, in essence, are attempts taken by a plaintiff to definitively prove an act of negligence that directly caused an injury or death. The following elements must be proven to deliver a favorable settlement for a plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit:
A legal duty must be delivered to the health care provider; a legal duty exists whenever a health care provider or hospital undertakes or accepts care of a patient.
The aforementioned duty must be breached. A breach occurs when the provider fails to conform to the relevant standard of care. A standard of care is proved through an expert testimonial or through the observation of obvious errors—the evidence speaks for itself.
The breach or negligent action must cause an injury to the patient.
There must tangible damages undertaken by the patient. Without damages (losses that are pecuniary or emotional), there is no real basis for a medical malpractice claim, even if the medical provider acted of negligence.
Medical Malpractice Trial
If you are a victim of medical malpractice, you will initiate your claim through a medical malpractice trial. Similar to tort cases, the plaintiff or representing attorney will file a lawsuit in a court with the appropriate jurisdiction. Between the filing of the suit and the actual trial, the parties will exchange information regarding the malpractice suit through a period of discovery. This information exchange is often times the absolute factor for determining a malpractice suit, for all interrogatories, requests for documents and dispositions will be exchanged during this period.