Anyone in receipt of medical care of any kind deserves and rightly expects to be treated in an appropriate caring manner. This is not always what happens, however, and the reasons for that can be various and, often, confusing and convoluted. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with medical care of all kinds, and one of the most serious of these is something known as medical malpractice.
We have all heard of medical malpractice, of course, and most of us know that it’s something to be wary of. But how can you make sure that you are aware of what it really looks like, and what it really is? Knowing this is important, not only because it allows you to be empowered regarding the kind of medical care you receive, but also because you might need to seek legal help should you be a victim of it.
With that in mind, let’s look at a definition of medical malpractice and talk a little about what is, and what isn’t, considered medical malpractice in the everyday usage of the term.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice of any kind occurs when a medical professional or medical institution causes injury of some kind or another to a patient or more than one patient. This can be due to negligence or omission or, in rare cases, purposeful acts of harm. It may be the result of errors in various stages of treatment, in diagnosis, in aftercare or even in general health management.
The Three Characteristics Of Medical Malpractice
In order for the law to consider an act to be medical malpractice, it generally has to have three characteristics apply to it. If these three are not met, then it is generally unlikely that an individual would successfully bring a case of medical malpractice in a court of law.
- Violation Of Standard Of Care
In other words, the incident needs to have been caused by a loss or lack or the standard of care that patients can rightfully expect from their doctors and other medical professionals. If there is a violation of the standard of care, this might indicate negligence and medical malpractice.
- Injury Caused
However, that alone is not enough: there also needs to be an injury caused by such negligence for it to be considered true medical malpractice. That injury also needs to be in accordance with the negligence; if there is an injury but no negligence, then it is not malpractice.
- Significant Damages
Finally, that injury also needs to have resulted in significant damages. If the damages are too small, the cost of pursuing the case might be greater than the damages themselves. There must be a lot of unusual pain or hardship shown to be the result of the malpractice, or general suffering of some kind or another.
As you can see, there is a very tight legal definition for what counts as medical malpractice. The best course of action if you are not sure is to speak to a medical malpractice lawyer.