Medical malpractice happens far more often than many people think. In fact, medical negligence is right behind heart disease as the third leading cause of death in the United States. In 2017, medical malpractice accounted for an average of $3.8 billion in medial payouts.
What’s Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs through negligent actions of healthcare professionals, causing harm to a patient. Common types of malpractice include but aren’t limited to:
- Failure to diagnose or misdiagnose, which can cause months or even years of personal misery
- Misreading or ignoring laboratory results, which are crucial to correct diagnosis
- Unnecessary surgery, resulting in thousands of dollars lost to the hospital
- Surgical errors or wrong site surgery, typically caused by confusing necessary patient files
- Improper medication or dosage, leading to problems functioning day-to-day
- Poor follow-up or aftercare, necessary for conditions requiring prolonged monitoring
- Premature discharge that can lead to a resurgence of the initial problem
- Disregarding or not taking appropriate patient history, vital details for any treatment
- Failure to order proper testing that yields the results needed for diagnosis
- Failure to recognize symptoms, which is a sign of incompetent care
These oversights may be unintentional, but they are considered malpractice under the law if they qualify as a violation of standard care, if they were caused by negligence, and if the injury resulted in significant damages. Below is an overview of each of these requirements:
- Violation of Standard Care: The law recognizes universal standards that healthcare professionals judge acceptable. Under these guidelines, known as the Standard of Care, you the right to expect consistent healthcare and may establish negligence if the standard has not been met.
- Injury caused by negligence: Additionally, you can prove negligence caused an injury. There is no case with only an unfavorable outcome.
- Injury resulted in significant damages: Since malpractice lawsuits are expensive, you can prove you’ve sustained a significant cost — whether monetary or health-based. Substantial medical bills, suffering and hardship, loss of income, and/or disability would establish a case.