Medical malpractice, a type of professional negligence, occurs when a doctor, nurse or other medical provider violates the appropriate standard of care in providing treatment, resulting in harm to a patient. Examples include misdiagnosis, an unreasonable delay in providing treatment and errors in prescribing medicine. A provider may fail to diagnose a condition, perform the wrong procedure or perform it incorrectly. This is not an exhaustive list, and medical malpractice can take many forms.
It is important to understand that a bad medical outcome does not necessarily mean that malpractice has occurred. Medical personnel have a duty to their patients and must provide them with a high standard of care. Based on the particular circumstances of each case, that standard of care is determined by comparing the medical professional’s conduct to the conduct of similarly situated medical professionals. Before a case is even filed, a medical expert, who practices in the same field as the defendant medical professional, must certify that the lawsuit has merit.
In most cases, a violation of the standard of care is presented to the jury through expert medical testimony. Expert witnesses must be licensed and experienced in the same field as the defendant. In some cases, the negligence may be so obvious that an expert witness is not required, but this is highly unusual. Professional negligence may be proven through cross-examination of the defendant. The plaintiff may also present evidence of the proper use of a medication as shown by the manufacturer’s instructions or by hospital licensing rules and accreditation standards. In some cases, the plaintiff need only show that the injury happened under the defendant’s care and that the injury would not have occurred if the defendant had been exercising reasonable care.
If you believe you may have a medical malpractice case, it is important to consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in the field. Medical malpractice is a field of law with a number of highly technical aspects. The cost of litigating such cases is typically quite high, and defense firms work hard to defend their clients. Your attorney must have the skills and resources necessary to take your case all the way to the best possible outcome for you. As with all injury claims, statutes of limitations may apply to your case, so it is important to prioritize a consultation with an attorney as soon as possible.