You’ve probably heard of medical malpractice before, but might be unsure of what this area of the law covers. Whether you just want to be prepared or you think you may be a victim, keep reading for a better understanding of what medical malpractice entails.
A Basic Definition
Medical malpractice falls under the personal injury spectrum of the law. Some people mistakenly think that if a medical professional makes a mistake while treating them, this constitutes malpractice, but that’s not necessarily true. Generally speaking, the mistake has to have resulted in verifiable harm to you. This can’t simply be a scenario where a doctor is wrong about something simple. It has to have actually impacted you in a real way.
This definition may lead you to believe that medical malpractice would be a fairly easy thing to prove. The truth, though, is that medical malpractice cases can actually take a lot of time before there’s a resolution.
It’s also important to know that a doctor could do nothing and still be sued for medical malpractice. If a doctor failed to diagnose a disease or prescribe a certain medication and this ends up harming someone, their inaction would be to blame.
The legal term for the medical professional’s mistake or failure to act (which is simply referred to as “omission”) is “medical negligence.” This transgression can take place at any point during the medical treatment. Whether it’s the diagnosis, something that happens during surgery, or even a mistake made during rehabilitation, medical negligence can lead to a medical malpractice suit.
Standard of Care
One of the reasons medical malpractice can be so hard to prove sometimes is that it’s not always cut and dried what a doctor, nurse, etc. should have done. This is where standard of care must be considered. In this context, standard of care means the generally accepted methods being used by medical professionals in the area for treating patients suffering from the same issues.
For example, if you’re a 50-year-old businessman who suffers from asthma here in Baltimore, a medical professional should be treating you the same way other 50-year-old businessmen are getting treated in the area. That’s considered a standard of care. You should not expect to be treated the same way a college kid living in San Diego with asthma would. To proceed with a medical malpractice suit, the first step is usually to prove that your practitioner breached the standard of care for whatever your medical problem was.
While it might seem easy to prove that a medical professional’s mistake left you worse off, this is actually the most difficult part of a medical malpractice case. “Causation”, as it’s known, is not proving that a doctor didn’t follow the standard of care, but that this caused you harm and nothing else was responsible.
At the end of the day, if you believe you’re suffering because of a doctor’s mistake, it’s worth consulting with the lawyers at Ingerman and Horwitz to be certain. Contact us today to make sure you receive any damages you may be due. We’re here to help.