Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a legal field that gives patients who have been harmed by a doctor’s errors the opportunity to have those mistakes addressed legally.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs whenever a doctor fails to exercise appropriate care for a patient. The word malpractice literally means “bad practice.” It defines any medical treatment that falls short of normal levels of skill, care or established medical procedure.

In short, medical malpractice happens when a mistake is made by the doctor. The error might be one of knowledge, practice such as a botched surgery, or procedure such as prescribing the wrong medication or too much of the right medication.

In most cases, for a claim of medical malpractice to be established, it must be clearly demonstrated that the mistakes made by the physician or other medical personnel resulted in harm to the patient.

Types of Medical Malpractice

There are many different types of medical errors that constitute medical malpractice recognized by the courts. Whether the mistake is something committed by a doctor, or something that should have been done but was omitted by the doctor, it might be legally considered malpractice.

Mistakes of Commission: Some of the wrong things that doctors and medical personnel do include poorly handled surgery, objects left in a patient during surgery, causing injury during birth, misdiagnosing an injury or illness, emergency room errors, performing unnecessary procedures and prescribing the wrong – or wrong amount – of medication, anesthesia errors and more.

Mistakes of Omission: Failure to do what should be done includes delaying treatment, not providing available care or medication, neglect that leads to pressure ulcers (bed sores) or infections, failure to order appropriate tests, not providing appropriate follow-up care or consultation and more. Failure to obtain your informed consent for significant medical procedures might also be considered malpractice.

Medical Malpractice Cases and Lawsuits

A person who believes that mistakes have been made in their medical diagnose, treatment or ongoing care should first discuss their concerns with the doctor. They should ask for an explanation as to why things were done as they were.

If that individual believes that mistakes were made, they should confront the doctor with their concerns and expect a thorough response.

If the physician does not admit to any mistakes of commission or omission, the next step might be for the person who believes that they are a victim of medical malpractice to consult a medical malpractice attorney.

Consulting a Medical Malpractice Attorney

Here are tips for finding the right medical malpractice attorney and pursuing a malpractice lawsuit.

First, medical malpractice is highly-technical. The attorney should have specialized knowledge of the medical field. For this reason, some malpractice attorneys will focus on a particular type of malpractice such as surgical errors, misdiagnose of serious illnesses, emergency room errors, etc. If they are not an expert in that specific type of malpractice, they should at least have access to medical experts who are.

Secondly, many malpractice attorneys offer free consultation in order to determine whether or not you have a case they believe can be won.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are expensive, and they are usually quite long and drawn out. In addition, with reforms in laws governing lawsuits, sometimes called tort reform, monetary awards might be capped. For this reason, malpractice attorneys will likely only take your case if they believe it is very strong.

Clear cases of medical malpractice are often settled out of court, a result that can be advantageous to both sides. Going to trial is always a risk for a person who has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, but sometimes it is unavoidable.

Finding the Right Medical Malpractice Attorney

These attorneys are often known as personal injury attorneys, especially if they take a broader range of cases than just medical malpractice.

The key is to locate an attorney with the right experience and skills. Ask questions to find out how much general experience they have and how much specific experience they have with cases like yours.

Ask if they’ve got the financial resources to take cases to trial, and what their success rate is in cases they take to trial. Ask general questions about how they intend to proceed, discover the facts in your case and hire medical experts that will support your case.

Malpractice Attorney Fees

Be sure to discuss fees as well. Most medical malpractice lawyers work for a percentage of any settlement. This is known as a contingency fee – their getting paid is contingent upon winning a settlement or judgment. For example, a 1/3 take of a settlement, after fees and costs have been deducted, is common.