What is Malpractice?

Any time a professional makes an error it is considered malpractice. When a professional who is skilled or has been trained to do a certain job, it is expected by the public that the professional should be competent in his or her line of work. A dentist, for instance, should be able to recognize a damaged tooth. A contractor is expected to build something without structural flaws. Although there are different types, the most common is medical malpractice.

What is Medical Malpractice?

This occurs when a medical facility, physician or other healthcare professional causes harm to a patient from omission or a negligent act. The negligence could result from:

  • poor treatment
  • misdiagnosis
  • improper aftercare
  • negligence in health management

According to the law, the claim must have the following features to be classified as malpractice.

• An injury resulted from negligence. The patient must have not only suffered an injury but must prove that the injury would not have occurred had it not been for the medical provider’s negligence.

• There was a violation of the medical standards of care. The law acknowledges that medical professionals are expected to provide medical treatments that are acceptable as the standard of care. If it’s proven that this did not happen, the physician can be sued.

• Damages that resulted from the injury were significant. These type of lawsuits are expensive.  Therefore, the losses must be sufficient enough to cover a lawsuit. Additionally, it must be proven that the damages were caused through the fault of the doctor.

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Most Common Examples of Medical Malpractice

With lawsuits occurring at such an alarming rate today, many people erroneously think they’re victims of negligence or neglect even if a tiny mistake takes place. Below are the most common examples of medical malpractice.

• Failure to analyze or misreading lab results

• Performing unnecessary surgery

• Improper prescription doses or incorrect medication

• Surgical errors or incorrect surgery site

• Improper follow-up care

• Discharging patient prematurely

• Failing to recognize symptoms

• Failing to order necessary tests

• Disregarding patient’s medical history or obtaining it

Medical Malpractice vs. Medical Negligence

By definition, malpractice takes place in many situations when there is negligence on the part of the physician. However, while these two terms are often used interchangeably, they’re actually somewhat different. Medical malpractice takes place when a physician fails to provide proper care while knowing that it can cause harm to the patient. With medical negligence, there is no intent. The doctor is just negligent or makes a mistake that results in injury or loss. In the first case, the doctor may not have had intent, but the doctor knew it was a possibility.

Medical Lawsuits – Costly Yet Common

As expensive as a medical lawsuit can be for everyone involved, they occur more often than we’d like to think. Here are three startling facts as reported by Forbes and U.S. News & World Report.

• Medical negligence is the 3rd-leading cause of death in the United States.

• Approximately 200,000 patients are killed every year in the United States by medical errors.

• Over $3 billion was spent on medical malpractice payments in 2012.

Medical negligence of any kind is a crime that seldom happens intentionally, yet the results can be catastrophic to both parties. Knowing what you expect when you visit a care provider and not being afraid to voice your expectations can often ensure that you receive appropriate care.