Brief Look at Medical Malpractice

Brief Look at Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is defined as any professional negligence or carelessness by a healthcare provider or professional leading to injury or harm to a patient. Some of the most common types of medical malpractice cases include negligence, medical error, incorrect or late diagnosis, failure to diagnose, improper treatment, incorrect medication dosage, failure to warn a patient about any known risks, as well as irregularities in health management, treatment or aftercare. Such cases usually occur when the doctor or other medical professional is unable to perform his or her medical duties competently. If any of the above malpractice claims result in a fatality, not only can the consequences become more severe for the at-fault party, but the case itself may become even more complex; especially if the matter of estate is involved. When a malpractice case is also categorized as a wrongful death case, it may be wise to not only consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, but also any related estate planning lawyer as well.

According to the Journal of American Medicine, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States. A recent study of medical malpractice cases, published in the 2006 New England Journal of Medicine Study, shows that approximately 60% of medical malpractice cases were female, with a median age of 38 years. Approximately 12% of these cases were of victims over 65 years of age, whereas most of the remaining cases were of newborns. These figures were based on a random 1,452 medical malpractice cases involving malpractice insurance carriers across the U.S.

What are the Medical Malpractice Guidelines?

As per the ethical and legal standards, healthcare professionals such as physicians, nurses, and surgeons are required to provide a reasonable level of care to the patient. Even hospitals and pharmaceutical companies can be found liable for malpractice. They need to ensure that the patient receives the best care possible in light of current medical practices and that they do not knowingly harm the patient in the process. Medical professionals are also obligated to provide information to patients in order to facilitate them and to give them informed consent regarding treatment. In case a medical professional violates the normal routines and standards of care when treating patients, they are to be held accountable as far as the legal standards are concerned.

When someone has become a victim of medical malpractice, they may have a viable medical malpractice case. However, two conditions need to be met:

  • Figuring out who was at fault
  • Proving that fault legally

You or your attorney must be able to prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed, the doctor was negligent, and the negligence caused the injury. It must also be proven that the injury led to specific damages such as physical pain, mental anguish, additional medical bills, lost wages and lost earning capacity.

Another thing to note about medical malpractice is that the case generally must be brought soon after the injury. Although the laws vary from state to state, generally, the “statute of limitations” ranges between six months and two years. If the case is not filed within the specified period of time, the court will likely dismiss the case regardless of the facts.

Getting advice from an experienced and qualified attorney can be important as the law concerning these cases is regulated by a complex body of rules.  Furthermore, with the correct representation, you may be able to get the compensation you deserve.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Krause Donovan Estate Planning Partners, LLC for their insight.

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