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Key Takeaways

Malpractice lawsuits are complicated, needing skilled legal representation
Informed consent is essential in medicine
Medical malpractice differs from general negligence
Inadequate follow-up care constitutes negligence
Proof of direct causation from negligence to patient harm is crucial
Wettermark Keith assists with medical malpractice cases

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Exploring the Boundaries: What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice?

Key Takeaways

Malpractice lawsuits are complicated, needing skilled legal representation
Informed consent is essential in medicine
Medical malpractice differs from general negligence
Inadequate follow-up care constitutes negligence
Proof of direct causation from negligence to patient harm is crucial
Wettermark Keith assists with medical malpractice cases

We trust our doctors with our health, our loved ones, and our lives. When medical negligence damages that trust, the impact ricochets through families and communities. Behind malpractice statistics stand real people robbed of their dreams and futures. Like a missed diagnosis leading to a young athlete’s permanent disability, or a preventable surgery complication causing a grandparent to miss the last 20 years of his life. These accidents are more than just data points – they demand accountability. When the unthinkable occurs, understanding what constitutes malpractice may help you on your path to justice.

Defining Medical Malpractice: More Than Simple Mistakes

Medical malpractice involves more than an unfortunate diagnosis or rare surgical complication. However, not all negative care outcomes necessarily constitute medical malpractice. At its core, medical malpractice is a failure by healthcare professionals to provide the standard of care that is expected in their field, leading to patient harm. This encompasses a range of errors, from misdiagnosis to surgical mistakes, and each case presents its unique complexities. 

To win a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff must prove that a duty of care was owed to the patient, a breach of duty occurred as the medical professional failed to meet the medical standard of care, and that this breach directly caused the injury or damages - with quantifiable patient losses as a result.

Negligence Resulting in Harm

At the heart of most medical malpractice cases is the concept of negligence. Negligence in healthcare can manifest in various ways, such as misdiagnosing a condition, surgical errors, improper medication dosages, or failure to inform patients about the risks of a procedure. For a medical malpractice claim to be valid, it must be proven that the healthcare professional's negligence directly resulted in patient harm.

Not only must practitioners meaningfully depart from standards expected among peers, but resulting damages must clearly connect to specific negligent actions versus mere mistakes amid otherwise attentive treatment attempts.

Examples of medical malpractice may include:

A common example of medical malpractice is when a doctor fails to correctly diagnose a serious condition like cancer or a heart attack, despite the patient presenting with clear and typical symptoms. This delay or oversight can lead to a progression of the disease, significantly impacting the patient's health outcomes and treatment options.

Surgical errors are a serious form of medical malpractice. This could involve operating on the wrong body part, leaving surgical instruments inside the patient, or performing an incorrect procedure. These errors can lead to severe complications, additional surgeries, and prolonged recovery times.

Prescribing or administering the wrong medication, or the correct medication in the wrong dosage, is another prevalent example. This can happen due to miscommunication, poor record-keeping, or simple human error. These mistakes can result in adverse drug reactions, exacerbation of the patient's condition, or even death.

Negligence in post-treatment care can also constitute malpractice. For instance, if a healthcare provider fails to provide adequate instructions for post-operative care or does not follow up with a patient after a major procedure, and the patient suffers complications as a result, it could be grounds for a malpractice claim.

This can occur when a healthcare provider chooses a course of treatment that is not aligned with the standard of care for that condition, especially when safer or more effective alternatives are available. For instance, recommending an invasive surgical procedure when a less invasive, equally effective treatment is available.

If a healthcare professional does not adequately inform a patient about the risks and alternatives of a procedure, and the patient suffers harm as a result, it may constitute malpractice. Informed consent is a critical right of all patients.

This includes failing to monitor vital signs or recognizing signs of distress during a patient's hospital stay, which can lead to preventable complications or even death.

If a general practitioner fails to refer a patient to a specialist when their condition or symptoms warrant specialized care, and the patient's condition worsens as a result, this could be considered malpractice.

 In medical malpractice cases, the specifics of each situation, including the actions of the healthcare provider and the resulting impact on the patient, are crucial in determining whether malpractice occurred.

How Does Medical Malpractice Differ from Negligence?

Malpractice and negligence, while related, are distinct in the legal world. Negligence is a broader term that encompasses any failure to exercise reasonable care, while malpractice specifically refers to negligence by a professional in performing their duties. Medical negligence becomes malpractice when the level of care provided falls below the accepted standard. Healthcare professionals are expected to provide care that is consistent with what other reasonably competent professionals would provide under similar circumstances. Failure to meet this standard, whether through action or inaction, can constitute malpractice.

Why You Need a Wettermark Keith Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical malpractice lawyers play a pivotal role in navigating the complex legal landscape of these cases. At Wettermark Keith, our medical malpractice attorneys help in gathering evidence, consulting medical experts, and providing the necessary legal framework to establish a breach of duty and deviation from a medical professional’s required standard of care. 

Medical malpractice lawsuits can be lengthy and complex, involving intricate medical and legal details. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling the nuances of these cases, from investigating the incident to negotiating settlements or representing clients in court. If you or a loved one has been affected by medical malpractice, contact us today at 877-715-9300 for a free consultation. We will stand by your side until you receive the compensation and justice you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions

Medical malpractice legally refers to professional negligence committed by a healthcare provider that deviates from the accepted standard of care, resulting in injury or harm to a patient.

Some of the most prevalent forms of medical malpractice include:

  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis: Failing to correctly diagnose a condition, ordering improper tests, or not recognizing symptoms.
  • Surgical errors: Making mistakes during surgery like operating on the wrong site, leaving foreign objects inside patients after surgery, or allowing injuries to organs or tissues.
  • Improper medication management: Errors with medication type, dose or timing leading to complications.
  • Childbirth injuries: Mistakes during labor or delivery causing harm to infant or mother.
  • Anesthesia errors: Inadequate monitoring of sedation, administering improper anesthesia, or failing to consider risks.

Plaintiffs must definitively prove to the court all four key legal elements: (1) the provider owed a duty of care based on the established doctor-patient relationship; (2) the provider breached this duty by deviating from accepted standards of medical care; (3) the breach directly caused the injury or damages; (4) measurable losses occurred due to physical, emotional or financial harm. Plaintiffs typically rely on medical records, expert testimony, and scientific research to prove their case.

Several core qualifications help healthcare practitioners deliver care meeting expected duties and avoid allegations of malpractice, including:

  • Graduating from an accredited medical school and residency program
  • Undertaking regular, continued education and training
  • Knowing hospital or clinic policy
  • Carefully reviewing all patient medical history
  • Documenting thorough informed consent processes

Potential consequences for practitioners found liable for medical malpractice may include:

  • Financial restitution through settlements or verdicts to pay for added patient medical costs and other losses
  • Reporting to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPSB) for medical malpractice
  • Monitoring of performance and restrictions of practice
  • Revocation of medical license in severe or repeated cases
  • Serious harm to personal and professional reputation

Patients can help minimize malpractice risks by:

  • Vetting providers thoroughly for licenses, education, and experience.
  • Asking questions about diagnoses, tests and treatments
  • Following prescription instructions closely
  • Ensuring proper informed consent procedures are followed
  • Having an advocate like a patient representative or family member help oversee care
  • Monitoring signs of complications and reporting concerns quickly
  • Obtaining second opinions when unsure or dissatisfied

However, please note that if you were a victim of medical malpractice that you are not at fault. Medical professionals have a duty of care to ensure that their treatment does not result in your harm.

Ready to work together? Contact us today for a free consultation.


If you or a loved one have been injured and think you might have a case, call us now for a free consultation.