The Basics of Medical Malpractice – Law Offices of Dr. Bruce G. Fagel & Associates
Medical malpractice is frequently misunderstood. There are many malpractice attorneys out there to guide you (like the Law Offices of Dr. Bruce G. Fagel & Associates), but the average person mistakenly believes that injuries caused by medical malpractice are limited to accidents made by medical professionals or to mistakes during surgery.
In reality, however, a patient can suffer any number of types of injuries from medical malpractice — from being given the wrong medication at the hospital to being misdiagnosed in your doctor’s office. Medical malpractice can be defined as the negligence of a doctor, surgeon, nurse, or another medical professional that caused harm to a patient.
For a case to be considered medical malpractice, it must involve the failure of a doctor to use the standard of care in the diagnosis and treatment of their patient. This means that if your doctor makes a mistake during surgery or gives you the wrong medication, they have breached their duty to the patient. It is by breaking this “duty” that a doctor becomes liable for medical malpractice.
By law, doctors owe two duties to each of their patients: the duty of care and protection. The first holds them accountable for the reasonable treatment of their patient; the second holds them accountable for protecting their patients from unreasonable harm.
This means that doctors must treat each patient with reasonable care and caution, using the same degree of knowledge and skill as any other doctor practicing in their specialty would use. If they do not, then they have breached their duty of care and are liable for any injury that results.
However, it is important to remember that the duty of care does not place an absolute requirement on the doctor. This means that doctors have a reasonable degree of leeway when treating patients — they can’t choose to use outdated methods simply because they prefer them. However, they must make a reasonable effort to keep up with medical advancements and procedures, as those are what other doctors now consider standard care.
In addition to the duty of care, doctors have another responsibility: to protect their patients from harm or further injury. In order for this duty to be breached, there must be evidence that the doctor’s actions or lack thereof led to injury or exposed the patient to a reasonable risk of harm. It is only in these circumstances that medical malpractice is established.
The biggest trouble most people have with understanding medical malpractice is that it does not necessarily involve “error” on the part of medical professionals. In fact, doctors are human, which means they are going to make mistakes from time to time. The difference between a medical error and a medical malpractice is whether the mistake falls below a reasonable standard of care — did another doctor, practicing in the same specialty under similar circumstances, have a reasonable degree of success? If so, then the case for malpractice can be made.
Do you have any questions about this article? Click here to contact us today.