March 19, 2020
Medical malpractice happens when a health care professional, such as a doctor or hospital staff member, causes a patient’s injury or illness because of a negligent action. Sometimes this is the result of a treatment issue, improper aftercare, an error in diagnosis or the overall management of the patient’s health. This doesn’t mean that because a patient’s condition gets worse or something else goes wrong, there has been malpractice. If you’re unsure whether your situation would be considered malpractice, the following gives some brief examples of what it is and what it is not.
What It Is
Medical malpractice is negligence or recklessness. In every case, there’s a health care professional on one side who failed to provide a certain standard of care, and on the other side is a patient who has suffered because of it.
- Negligence – A medical negligence case is based on a health care professional who fails to provide the type of care he or she would regularly provide in a similar situation, or other similarly-skilled professionals would provide in the same situation. Some examples include the failure to advise a patient of risks, the failure to diagnose a condition or an error during surgery.
- Recklessness – A reckless medical malpractice case is based on a health care professional who acts inappropriately while offering care to a patient. For example, a surgeon who performs a procedure while under the influence of alcohol or a pharmacist who makes a conscious decision to throw a few extra pills into the pill bottle.
What It Is Not
Though some patients have a less-than-favorable outcome from health care, it’s not always medical malpractice. Some scenarios that could be malpractice when coupled with a more serious situation, but are not generally malpractice on their own include:
- A Worsening Condition – Conditions can get worse, even when a medical professional is doing everything possible to stop that from happening. If the doctor is acting reasonably and providing accurate care, but the condition gets worse, it may just be an unfortunate turn of events, rather than negligence or recklessness.
- Being Untreatable – A doctor may diagnose a patient with a condition that is untreatable. For example, someone could have a terminal disease for which there is no treatment so the doctor may provide solutions to make the patient more comfortable. As the patient gets worse or nears death, it’s not considered malpractice because the doctor diagnosed the issue correctly and was doing everything possible to keep the patient comfortable during an inevitably difficult time.
Sometimes the line between something being considered malpractice or not is quite thin. To learn more or to find out if your situation might be considered medical malpractice, contact a hospital malpractice lawyer today.