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Contrary to popular belief, medical treatment that does more harm than good isn't necessarily cause for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Medical malpractice laws are actually medical negligence laws, meaning that a patient's claim is only actionable if a medical provider or facility negligently provided care that resulted in injury or death.
Putting aside the issue of faulty medical devices, medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors and facilities must usually be based on one of the following.
1. Patient suffers an abnormal injury.
Acknowledging that some injuries are so unexpected that they can only occur in the face of negligence, the law allows medical malpractice suits to proceed on the theory of res ipsa loquitor. These suits usually involve absurd injuries, such as items being left inside a patient, or clearly botched surgeries.
2. Lack of informed consent.
Prior to administering medical treatment, a doctor must obtain informed consent, which requires a patient to be of age, lucid, and to understand all of the risks. These suits usually proceed on the grounds that a doctor failed to explain all the risks, one of which befell the patient.
3. Doctor failed to provide accepted treatment.
Medical providers must give treatment that meets the generally accepted standard of care in the profession. When a doctor veers from these standards, such as providing improper medication or an untested treatment, he may be held liable.
4. Provider or facility failed to follow safety procedures.
These suits range from injuries caused by unsterile environments to a failure to double-check patient identity and numbers. If a safety procedure is in place (or should be) and it was ignored, there may be grounds for a lawsuit.
5. Facility is not properly maintained.
A medical malpractice lawsuit can also be based on the argument that a facility failed to properly maintain equipment or the premises. This includes sterility, a lack of necessary equipment, and properly certified employees.