Published On: Tue, Jan 30th, 2018

What Qualifies as Malpractice in Today’s Terms?

Hospitals, doctors, and healthcare professionals, in general, are expected to provide a specific standard of care. But sometimes, out of accident or negligence, the doctor or healthcare provider might come short of these criteria.  When this happens, the patient has a right to file for medical malpractice and demand compensation for damages caused.

However, keep in mind that not every harm caused by a hospital warrants a malpractice lawsuit. In some cases, it could be a genuine accident where no one is liable. Since you also don’t want to lose such a case, it is paramount that you understand what qualifies as malpractice before filing a claim.

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Basic Requirements For A Malpractice Claim

To prove that medical malpractice has occurred, you need to provide proof of four things;

  1. That a doctor-patient relationship existed

You must be able to provide evidence that you indeed hired the doctor and the doctor agreed to provide treatment. So, for instance, you can’t sue a doctor you overhead giving another patient medical advice – even if you think the advice was ill-intended. Questions of whether or not a doctor-patient relationship existed mostly arise where a consulting doctor did not treat you directly.

  1. That the doctor was negligent

Another way to look at this is to ask whether a competent doctor would have handled the situation differently, under the same circumstances. If yes, then you have a case. Otherwise, the case might not stand. Why – because doctors can’t be perfect. They are expected to be “reasonably skillful and careful,” but, are at the same time allowed to act “appropriately” when dealing with unique circumstances, as long as they remain within medical standards.

  1. That the negligence caused the injury

Pay keen attention to the word “the” here. It has to be that specific negligence causing that particular injury. If a doctor was negligent, yes, but that carelessness didn’t cause the harm in question, then you can’t prove malpractice. For instance, if a patient had lung cancer and ultimately died, to sue for malpractice, you must be able to provide proof that the doctor’s negligence is what eventually led to the death. Usually, you’ll need a medical expert to testify that greater competence would have resulted in a different outcome.

  1. That the injury led to visible damages

Proving damages should be relatively easy if you can demonstrate that there was injury, but still, you’ll have your work cut out convincing the court. Even if you can prove that a doctor was negligent, you’ll need to show that you suffered harm. There are several types of injury that patients can sue for including; physical pain, mental anguish, loss of earning capacity, and additional medical bills.

As you can see, it can be tough task proving malpractice. If you genuinely believe that you have a case, get a medical malpractice lawyer to help you assess the incident before you file a lawsuit. Most lawyers will do that for free and even offer to file the case on your behalf as well as represent you in court.

Guest Author :

Emma May is a malpractice attorney who spends most of her time helping victims file suits and representing clients in court. In her free time, she guest posts in various health blogs as a way of sharing her knowledge on the topic.

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