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Medical Malpractice: Background

Medical malpractice is a type of personal injury case based on the negligence of a healthcare provider such as a physician. A physician's medical negligence can lead to medical errors. A misdiagnosis, surgical error, or further injury qualifies as a medical malpractice claim. Accidents happen in hospitals and in the practice of medicine in general, some of which are preventable.

Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim

In order to bring a medical malpractice claim, the following elements must be met.

  • Duty of care
  • Breach of duty
  • Causation
  • Damages

Duty of care focuses on the doctor-patient relationship. In a medical malpractice claim, doctors owe their patients a higher standard of care than an ordinary person would owe to another person. If a doctor incorrectly diagnoses a patient, the doctor can be liable for a negligence claim.

What Is a Reasonably Prudent Physician?

A healthcare professional must be reasonably prudent in their actions. When determining whether a regular person is negligent, their conduct is judged on how a reasonably prudent person might act in the same or similar circumstances. 

A medical provider, however, must be competent and professional, consistent with the specialized training, experience, and care of a reasonably prudent physician in the same or similar circumstances. This constitutes the standard of care or professional duty that a physician owes their patient.

If a physician breaches the standard of care and harms their patient, then the patient may have a viable medical malpractice claim.

Who Is Considered a Medical Professional?

The most common defendant in a medical malpractice suit is the treating physician. However, many other professionals or medical organizations may also be held responsible. In many states, other licensed medical professionals such as chiropractors, nurses, therapists, and psychologists, may also be sued for malpractice for negligently breaching their respective professional duties owed to a patient.

Damages Available in a Medical Malpractice Case

Many of the recoverable damages in a medical malpractice claim are similar to those in any other personal injury case. Injured patients or beneficiaries of a deceased loved one in a wrongful death case may be entitled to non-economic damages and costs of medical bills.

Some of those damages include:

  • Disfigurement
  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses
  • Physical and mental pain
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Cost of hiring a caretaker for household services
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Lost wages

Get an Attorney To File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Determining whether or not you have a valid medical malpractice claim requires expertise from an attorney. You will benefit from the guidance of a seasoned medical malpractice attorney who can help you get the compensation you deserve.

If you would like to learn more about your medical malpractice case, you may be able to receive a free case evaluation. Contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer for legal advice about your claim.

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Contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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