What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is the professional negligence shown by a healthcare provider where he provides inferior treatment that causes injury, harm, or death to the patient. Such cases include wrong medication dosage, misdiagnosis, or childbirth injuries. The mistake can be caused either by an act of omission or negligence.

Medical malpractice law offers the patient a way to recover compensation for the harms caused by substandard treatment. The regulation and standards for malpractice vary slightly from one country to another. Even in the same country, the laws may differ from one jurisdiction to the next.

A hospital or doctor is not responsible for all the injuries that a patient may suffer. A health care provider is only liable for injuries that occur when he deviates from the quality of care that a competent doctor in his position would give.

How common is medical malpractice?

Errors in diagnosis cause 160,000 deaths per year in the US. Misdiagnosis is one of the most expensive and dangerous mistakes made by doctors in America. Examples of hospital errors include:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Operating on wrong body parts
  • Giving the wrong dosage
  • Potentially fatal staph infections
  • Bedsores
  • Leaving things in the patients body after surgery
  • Persistent back pain following surgery
  • Giving the wrong medication

Informed consent

When a patient does not give informed consent to a certain medical procedure, according to cosmetic surgery insider, the doctor will be liable if it results in harm or injury, even if it was done faultlessly. For instance, if a surgeon does not inform a patient about a 30 percent risk of losing a limb during a procedure and the patient loses a hand, the doctor will be liable even if the surgery went well. This is because the patient might have opted out of the procedure if he had known about the risks.

Elements in a medical malpractice case

  • The defendant – the person being sued. In a medical malpractice case, this could be nurse, therapist, or doctor. Even other persons who were just following orders may be legally responsible for negligence.
  • The plaintiff – this refers to the patient who was harmed by negligent acts. If the patient died, an executor or administrator of his estate can be the plaintiff.
  • The losing party – this basically refers to the party that loses the case
  • The prevailing party – this refers to the party that wins the case; it could be the defendant or plaintiff. If the defendant wins, the plaintiff will not receive any compensation.
  • The fact-finder – this is the jury or judge

Compensatory and punitive damages

The plaintiff can be awarded punitive or compensatory damages:

  • Punitive damages – these are awarded when a defendant is found guilty of willful or malicious misconduct. It is a punishment and the compensation is usually more than the actual damages.
  • Compensatory damages – this includes medical or life care expenses. Future and past losses are assessed to come up with this amount.

When working with a Baltimore MD medical malpractice lawyer, you might be compensated.

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Melissa Thompson

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.