What is the Basis for Most Medical Malpractice Claims?
We get a lot of calls from individuals who want to know what it takes to make a medical malpractice claim. Too often, these calls are prompted by tragic outcomes from medical procedures such as surgeries. This is just one example of the kind of situation that can result in the opening of a medical malpractice claim.
But what is malpractice, and how do you know if you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice? If you think you have been harmed by medical malpractice, what are your next steps for opening a claim? We’ll take you through the answers to these questions and more in the video above and the article that follows.
Possible Reasons to Claim Medical Malpractice
The most common reasons we see for opening a medical malpractice claim are:
- A tragic outcome from a medical procedure, such as a surgery - This can be personal injury, infection, or even death. Learn more about the types of medical practitioner errors that result in medical malpractice.
- A wrong diagnosis - This includes misdiagnosis, missed diagnosis, or delayed diagnosis, all of which can cause an undiagnosed medical condition to worsen and/or cause harm from treating the wrong condition. To learn more about the differences and similarities among these terms, read our article on misdiagnosis.
What is Malpractice in Medicine?
The simple definition of medical malpractice is when a medical practitioner - be it a doctor, a nurse, a specialist, or any other health care provider - does something they aren’t supposed to do or doesn’t do something they are supposed to do.
Of course, this definition isn’t the most specific, which can leave a lot to interpretation. So, how do we determine if an error actually counts as medical malpractice? We use something called a reasonable standard of care.
The Standard of Care in a Medical Malpractice Case
You can think of the standard of care as the “C-student standard.” In other words, practitioners don’t have to be perfect, but they should be held to the “average” standard, i.e., the performance of an average professional peer with similar training and under similar circumstances. Often, expert witnesses - independent healthcare providers - are used to determine an objective standard of care.
Medical Malpractice is a Serious Problem
A Harvard Medical School study from a few years ago estimated that about 100,000 people die needlessly in hospitals every year. That’s more people than die on the roads in auto accidents every year. This figure is all the more tragic considering that these deaths resulted from preventable medical mistakes, ranging from errors in diagnosis and treatment to surgical or pharmacist errors.
Getting a Medical Malpractice Claim Started
Did your level of care fall below the accepted standard? If so, you need to call an experienced medical malpractice attorney, who will typically start by:
- Obtaining your medical records
- Having them reviewed by an independent physician - i.e., an expert witness
Medical malpractice cases are notoriously challenging to establish and win. Care providers have a vested interest in defending themselves against dire financial and professional consequences, so evidence needs to be presented very thoroughly and carefully, with full detailed knowledge of the law.
The medical malpractice attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield have plenty of experience with these kinds of cases. If you need help getting a medical malpractice claim started, feel free to give us a call and we’ll be happy to provide a free consultation.