What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider fails to perform to the standard of care that others in their peer group would administer. If they fail to properly diagnose a patient’s condition, the individual has the legal right to sue a doctor for substandard care. Negligence is not only defined as the failure to provide adequate care. Doctors can be held liable for actually inflicting harm to a patient when they prescribe the wrong medication or make a surgical mistake.

Establishing the Duty of Care

All medical professionals owe a duty of care to their patients and negligence or malpractice can occur when they improperly perform their duty out of carelessness. An injured plaintiff may choose to sue a doctor when they deviate from the standards set forth by others in the same field. For example, let’s say that you are admitted to the hospital for a routine operation. The anesthesiologist is tasked with administering the proper amount of medication to keep you under during the procedure. They may be held liable for damages when they breach their duty of care to the patient by giving the wrong medication or administering an overdose. Anesthesiologists are also responsible for properly monitoring the patient’s respiratory condition and other vital signs during surgery. Failing to do so can result in a medical malpractice claim against them. Negligence may be proven by testimony from other medical professionals who act in the same capacity that can testify that the duty and standard of care fell below what was required.

Breach of Duty & Standard of Care

When a person decides to sue a doctor or other healthcare professional, they must be able to prove the necessary legal elements in order for a case to go forward. These include:

• Duty owed to the patient—A doctor owes a duty to their patient when they have an established relationship. They are required to perform to a standard of care that others in their same field would have done.

• Breaching their duty—When a doctor fails to perform their duty at the required level and administers treatment below the standard of care, they may be found in breach of duty.

• Proximate cause—If the direct cause of the patient’s injuries were the result of the physician breaching their duty, the plaintiff has an established case.

• Damages owed to the victim—The injured patient may seek damages when the injuries were caused by the medical professional who breached the duty of care. Victims can recover both economic and non-economic damages and in some cases may be able to sue for punitive damages when the doctor’s conduct appeared to be willful in nature.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim

Medical malpractice continues to be a huge problem throughout the U.S. Many victims are left with debilitating injuries requiring life-long medical care. When you have been the victim of medical negligence, you should consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to examine the facts of your case. Contact Kardos, Rickles, Hand & Bidlingmaier for a free consultation.