Medical malpractice is not limited to medical doctors. It applies also to osteopaths, nurses, dentists, health care facilities and others providing health care services. If you have questions about a potential medical malpractice claim, call today to schedule a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Malpractice
Q: What is medical malpractice?
A: Medical malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, hospital worker or hospital, whose treatment of a patient departs from a standard of care met by those with similar training and experience, resulting in harm to a patient.
Q: Does someone who is not satisfied with the results of his or her surgery have a malpractice case?
A: In general, there are no guarantees of medical results, and unexpected or unsuccessful results do not necessarily mean negligence occurred. To succeed in a medical malpractice case, a plaintiff has to show an injury or damages that resulted from the doctor's deviation from the standard of care applicable to the procedure.
Medical Malpractice - An Overview
Medical malpractice occurs when a negligent act or omission by a doctor or other medical professional results in damage or harm to a patient. Negligence by a medical professional could include an error in diagnosis, treatment or illness management. If such negligence results in injury to a patient, a case could arise against the doctor if his or her actions deviated from generally accepted standards of practice; against the hospital for improper care, such as problems with medications, sanitation or nursing care; or against local, state or federal agencies that operate hospital facilities.
Medical malpractice laws are designed to protect patients' rights to compensation if they are injured as the result of negligence. However, malpractice suits are often complex and costly to win. While theoretically you can seek compensation for any injury caused by negligence, regardless of its seriousness, time and money make it unrealistic to sue for an injury that is minor or heals quickly. Therefore, if you believe you have a medical malpractice claim, it is important to consult with an attorney at Hartley Hampton, P.C. in Houston, TX, who can help you determine whether your claim is worth pursuing.
Understanding Informed Consent
In many situations where medical care or treatment is provided to an individual, medical professionals are required to obtain the patient's "informed consent." Although the specific definition of informed consent may vary from state to state, it means essentially that the patient has made a knowing decision about a medical treatment or procedure after a doctor or other health care professional discloses all the information a reasonably prudent medical provider would give to a patient regarding the risks involved in the proposed treatment or procedure. If the health care provider fails to obtain informed consent, the patient may have a legal claim for damages.
Responsible Parties in Medical Malpractice Actions
Medical malpractice is not limited to medical doctors. It applies also to nurses, dentists, osteopaths, health care facilities and others providing health care services, such as nursing homes.
Proving Your Case - Causation
To establish a case for medical malpractice, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff, that the defendant failed to meet the standard of care owed to the plaintiff, that the mistake actually caused the plaintiff's injury and that the doctor or other medical professional's negligence damaged the plaintiff. Proof of causation can be a difficult issue in a medical malpractice case. For one thing, the injuries generally involved in medical malpractice cases require specific medical training to understand, and the normal plaintiff may not know the cause of such injuries.
Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases
Damages are a critical element of a medical malpractice case, and the plaintiff cannot recover damages for injuries that did not result from the doctor's conduct. Therefore, the plaintiff must establish a causal connection or link between the plaintiff's injury and the doctor's negligence. Generally, there are two types of damages available to a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case: compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Medical Malpractice Resource Links
The NPSF website features information about patient safety.
Provides information and links about patient safety, tips for patients and other general health information.
Information about the delivery of safe, high-quality patient care, provided by Joint Commission International.
A chart summarizing state medical malpractice laws, provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Medical malpractice news provided by the American Association for Justice.