What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider deviates from the recognized “standard of care” in the diagnosis and treatment of patient. “Standard of care” is a legal term that is defined as what a reasonably prudent medical provider would or would not have done under the same or similar circumstances. If a health care provider does not comply with the standard of care, that is medical negligence or medical malpractice.
Doctors, hospitals, nurses, nursing homes, long-term care facilities are all required to comply with the standard of care that applies particularly to them. For example, a hospital must comply with the standard of care for hospitals. If the hospital violates the standard of care, the hospital may be legally responsible for the patient’s injuries and damages. In addition, if a nurse violates the standard of care, the nurse or her employer – the hospital – may be legally responsible for the patient’s injuries.
It is important to note that not every bad or less than optimal result from medical care is medical negligence. Sometimes bad outcomes happen even without medical negligence. To know whether the injury was caused by medical negligence, the patient or the patient’s family must find out whether there was a violation of the standard of care that caused the injury.
Unfortunately, the number of deaths and serious injuries from medical negligence is significant. The National Institute of Medicine initiated the Quality of Health Care in America project to study medical errors in hospitals. The National Institute of Medicine published a report entitled, To Err is Human – Building a Safer Health Care System, which reported an estimated 98,000 deaths per year from medical errors that occur in hospitals. That number is more than the number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer or AIDS – three causes that receive more public attention and discussion about ways to reduce the numbers. Further, that number is 98,000 deaths, and does not include the number of serious or permanent injuries that are caused by medical errors.
Common types of medical errors and medical malpractice claims include:
- Medication or prescription errors in which patients are given the wrong dose or the wrong type of medication.
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis errors in which the patient is given the wrong diagnosis or the correct diagnosis is delayed resulting in a delay in appropriate treatment.
- Surgical or procedure errors in in which the surgical technique is improperly performed.
- Retained object cases in which surgical instruments or other objects are left inside the patient’s body.
- Mismanagement of labor and delivery causing injury to the baby due to lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain causing a brain injury or traumatic injury to the baby, including brain injury or brachial plexus injury.
Medical malpractice cases are complex and must be carefully evaluated. If you suspect medical negligence, you should talk with a lawyer who is experienced in handling medical malpractice cases to understand the particular issues in your situation and to evaluate whether medical negligence has occurred.
Don’t hesitate to contact Williams & Brown LLP
We can be reached at (888) 741-6200.