Medical Malpractice In General
Common types of medical malpractice include medication errors and surgical errors of various sorts, delays in diagnosis and/or treatment, extravasation of intravenous (IV) drugs resulting in loss of limbs or digits, and blood transfusion errors. While an injury may be considered a complication, any serious injury resulting in permanent disability or death may be worth investigating to determine if it was the result of malpractice/negligence.
Medical malpractice, or negligence occurs when a health care professional acts or fails to act in a way that meets the acceptable levels of care. When such care by health care providers falls beneath accepted standards of practice in the (same or similar) medical community and causes injury or death to the patient, one requirement for a medical malpractice case has been met.
Standards and regulations for medical malpractice vary by country and jurisdiction/states within countries. Medical professionals, hospitals, clinics, and ambulatory surgery centers often obtain professional liability insurance to offset the risks and costs of medical negligence lawsuits.
The plaintiff is the injured patient. If the patient is a minor, the law allows a parent, or other person to be designated to act on his/her behalf. If the patient dies, an administrator or administratrix may be appointed to act on behalf of the estate.
The defendants are the health care providers. Although a 'health care provider' may refer to a physician, the term is also used for any medical care provider, including dentists, nurses, and therapists. As illustrated in Columbia Medical Center of Las Colinas v Bush, 122 S.W. 3d 835 (Tex. 2003), nurses and other non-physicians must exercise independent judgment and may not be protected from liability by just following doctors' orders.
Defendants may also include hospitals, clinics, managed care organizations, physician offices, surgery centers, medical corporations, or other medical organizations, based upon vicarious liability or direct corporate negligence.
A plaintiff must establish all four elements (duty, breach of that duty, causation, and damages) of the tort of negligence for a successful medical malpractice claim.
* Duty : This is the legal duty stemming from the relationship between a hospital or health care provider and a patient.
* Breach of duty : The duty is breached when the care rendered by the defendant health care professional, hospital, clinic, etc., fails to rise to the level of the relevant standard of care.
* Causation : The breach of duty must be the proximate, or legal, cause of the injury or wrongful death.
* Damages : Depending on the jurisdiction, damages may include medical expenses such as hospital and doctor bills, lost past and future wages, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering. The damages must be attributable to the negligence. Damages can occur without negligence, and the appropriate expert will help determine whether or not the negligence caused the damages or whether they can be attributed to other factors.
Potential medical malpractice (medmal) cases often present complex and technical medical details that can be difficult to understand without a medical malpractice expert who can explain the medical standard that applies to a particular procedure or treatment, and what errors, if any, can result in a medmal case.
In many states, a medical expert must be retained to provide "proabable cause" before a lawsuit can be filed. The right medical expert can be consulted to provide advice about how to proceed in a legal case, present opinions and reports for the court by affidavit, and appear as an expert witness to testify during trial.
The American Medical Association (www.ama.org) has published resources to guide physicians who testify in court, as either fact witnesses or expert witness.
At Medical Malpractice Experts - We review hospital and other medical records for attorneys to help them determine whether or not they should get involved in a case, and if so, what experts they will need to serve as expert witnesses during the litigation process and at trial.
MME also provides an expert locator service for those of you who already know what type of expert you need.
Our thorough and straightforward screening of medical malpractice cases is performed by competent, credible physicians.
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