Medical Malpractice: What It Is and How to Protect Yourself

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a legal cause of action that occurs when a medical or health care professional, through a negligent act or omission, deviates from standards in their profession, thereby causing injury or death to a patient. The negligence might arise from errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare or health management.

Elements of Medical Malpractice

To prove medical malpractice, a plaintiff must establish the following four elements:

  1. Duty of care: The medical professional owed the patient a duty to provide care that met the accepted standard of care in the medical community.
  2. Breach of duty: The medical professional breached that duty by failing to meet the accepted standard of care.
  3. Causation: The breach of duty caused the patient’s injury.
  4. Damages: The patient suffered damages as a result of the injury.

Types of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice can take many forms, including:

  • Diagnosis errors: Failing to diagnose a medical condition, diagnosing the wrong condition, or delaying diagnosis.
  • Treatment errors: Prescribing the wrong medication, performing the wrong surgery, or failing to provide appropriate treatment.
  • Aftercare errors: Failing to monitor the patient’s condition after treatment or failing to provide adequate instructions for home care.
  • Health management errors: Failing to order or interpret tests correctly, failing to refer the patient to a specialist, or failing to coordinate care with other healthcare professionals.

Consequences of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice can have serious consequences for patients, including:

  • Physical injury
  • Emotional distress
  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Disability
  • Death

Preventing Medical Malpractice

There are a number of things that can be done to prevent medical malpractice, including:

  • Communication: Healthcare professionals should communicate effectively with patients about their diagnosis, treatment plan, and risks.
  • Teamwork: Healthcare professionals should work together as a team to coordinate patient care.
  • Safety protocols: Hospitals and other healthcare facilities should have safety protocols in place to reduce the risk of errors.
  • Quality assurance: Healthcare facilities should have quality assurance programs in place to identify and correct problems.

If You Think You Have Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice

If you think you have been a victim of medical malpractice, it is important to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. An attorney can help you assess your case and determine if you have a valid claim. If you do have a claim, an attorney can help you file a lawsuit and pursue compensation for your damages.