What is Medical Malpractice?

A stethoscope wrapped around a gavel beside the words "Reporting Medical Malpractice"

We place our faith and trust in doctors to help us feel better when we are sick or injured. When that trust is broken due to negligence or failure to competently perform, the effects can be devastating. Not only is that trust broken but the individual may see their condition worsening, develop a new illness or injury from the negligence, or even find that his or her life is at risk.

If you have been a victim of medical malpractice, you may find that it will take extensive treatment and therapy to treat the illness or injury that came as a result. Not only can these extra treatments lead to financial hardship, but they also can lead to increased missed time at work, the possibility of not being able to return to your chosen profession, and decreased quality of life. 

Fortunately, there is hope. Medical malpractice lawsuits can help you get the compensation you deserve for damages and injuries resulting from your case. They also challenge the doctor or staff member who was responsible for the malpractice and ensures that others will not be harmed in the future. If you are looking to pursue a medical malpractice case to get justice for your injury or illness caused by the negligence of a healthcare professional, here is what you need to know:

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a legal term that describes when a patient is harmed by a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional due to incompetence or negligence when performing their duties.

It is important to note that not every error falls under the definition of medical malpractice. For an action to be considered medical malpractice, it has to be intentional, immoral, unprofessional, negligent, or improper. A wide range of actions may fall under such a definition; here are some examples:

  • Failure to obtain proper informed consent.
  • Prescribing the wrong medication.
  • Performing surgery incorrectly.
  • Performing procedures in environments or with equipment that are not sterile.

However, certain injuries will not fall under medical malpractice. For example, if a doctor prescribed you a medication that you took and had an allergic reaction to, but neither you nor the doctor knew you were allergic, this would just be an unfortunate accident.

What Are the Basic Requirements of a Medical Malpractice Case?

For a medical malpractice case to stand up in court, these basic requirements need to be shown and proven.

1. There Was a Pre-established Doctor-Patient Relationship

You and the physician or even the healthcare staff must have had a pre-existing doctor-patient relationship. This simply means that there has to be evidence that you hired the doctor and his staff and that they agreed to be hired to treat your illness, injury, or for routine check-ups.

Why does this need to be proven? This protects medical professionals when they are not actively practicing, such as if you found a doctor at a party. Even if they gave you advice and that advice turned out to be bad, they would be protected from a lawsuit because there was no pre-existing relationship.

There needs to be some form of consent for you to be seen and treated by the doctor and their staff. This can get tricky when the consulting physician, such as your primary care physician, recommends you see a specialist but doesn’t treat you directly for your illness.

2. Evidence that the Doctor or Staff Was Negligent

Sometimes individuals seek medical malpractice claims on the grounds that he or she was unhappy with treatment. However, this never stands up in court. There has to be ample proof that the doctor was negligent in his or her care or treatment of you. To prove this, it needs to be shown that a doctor acting competently wouldn’t have done the same treatment or made the same choices as the potentially negligent doctor. In most cases, a medical expert needs to be brought to testify on the medical standard of care and how the defendant did not uphold that standard.

3. Evidence Supporting that the Doctor’s Negligence Resulted In the Injury or Illness

Most medical malpractice cases involve individuals who were already sick or injured. Thus, many defendants will make the case about whether or not their actions resulted in the harm or the previous injury or illness was the cause. 

For example, a patient is being treated for cancer. The patient later dies after treatment was found to be ineffective. Later, it was found that the doctor was not checking on the patient as required and prescribed an incorrect dosage of the medication. It now becomes a question as to whether the patient died due to the natural course of cancer or if the doctor’s incompetence and negligence resulted in the death.

Most cases will have a medical expert testifying on behalf of the plaintiff to show how the doctor’s actions led to further injury, worsening of the illness, or even death of the patient.

4. The Injury/Illness Led to Specific Damages

A gavel on a legal book and a desk.

Even if there is evidence that the doctor or medical staff performed below their abilities and the expected standard of his or her field, the patient still has to show evidence of harm. The harm that a patient can sue for are as follows:

  • Physical pain or further physical injury
  • Mental anguish
  • Additional medical bills resulting from further treatment
  • Lost earning capacity due to missed time at work

Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you were the victim of a doctor or hospital’s medical malpractice, the trusted medical malpractice attorneys at Branch & Dhillon can help! Our team is full of knowledgeable and experienced attorneys who can help guide you through your case. We have a no-win-no-fee policy that allows you to gain legal counsel without upfront fees. If you do not get the compensation you deserve, then we won’t take a dime from you. This is just another way that Branch & Dhillon serves our Arlington clients. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a consultation with one of our caring lawyers

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