When Does a Medical Error Count as Medical Malpractice?

Most people go to the doctor believing that he or she is properly educated, trained, and licensed to practice medicine. Few people think to doubt the credentials or education of their physician.

While this is understandable, it is not exactly advisable. There are over three billion dollars in annual medical malpractice payouts. If that statistic is not staggering enough, there is also the fact that medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.

With those kind of statistics, it behooves you to understand what constitutes malpractice versus just a medical error. It is also a good idea to contact a medical malpractice attorney in these situations.

Who Can Be Sued for Malpractice

There are all types of professionals that can be sued for malpractice, not just doctors. Lawyers and accountants can both be sued for malpractice for example. Other professionals that are liable under the law include doctors, nurse practitioners, dentists, optometrists, midwives, radiologists, and mental health professionals.

The particular laws for each type of profession can vary. Those laws can further vary from state to state. It is also important to consider the different statutes of limitations for each profession and state. Once the statute of limitations has been surpassed, it is no longer possible to file a lawsuit no matter the severity of the injury. It is important to understand the specific laws for each type of malpractice in each state.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Malpractice occurs when a licensed professional causes injury due to an error. That injury can be physical, mental, or financial. In order for someone to file a malpractice lawsuit, they must demonstrate that the professional caused injury as a result of negligence or incompetency.

It is also vital that the mistake or medical error actually caused an injury. If there is a medical error or mistake that is made as a result of negligence or incompetency but does not result in an injury, a lawsuit cannot be filed.

Recent developments have also made professionals responsible for providing proper notification of all the risks entailed in a particular procedure, therapy, or decision. New legislation has sought to make doctors and other healthcare professionals responsible for fully informing a patient of all the known potential risks involved in a therapy, surgery, drug, or decision.

When a patient is not fully informed of such risks before an action is carried out, they have not given their “informed consent.” If an accident results from a procedure where “informed consent” was not given, proponents argue that it should fall under malpractice. While this is not yet regularly enforced, such cases are on the rise.

The majority of malpractice suits occur during a medical diagnosis or the reading of diagnostic results. Results are often misread as a result of haste.

Another common reason for misdiagnosis that is considered malpractice is an under-qualified person interpreting the results. This is especially the case if a primary care doctor makes a determination typically reserved for a specialist. A misdiagnosis usually causes injury as the result of a delay in treating the true condition. In some cases, the injury can be caused by taking medications for the wrong condition, or even a non-existent one.

Find the Right Lawyer

If you do find yourself victim to a medical error that caused an injury, it is important to find the right medical malpractice lawyer.

Not all malpractice laws or cases are the same. The exact laws depend on the professional involved and the state where the error occurred. Find a lawyer that has experience handling cases that involve your specific injury caused by the same kind of medical professional. They will know all the precedents and laws that pertain to your exact situation.

Not all medical malpractice cases operate the same, nor do they have the same precedents. It will pay off dividends for you to verify the experience and expertise of your malpractice lawyer.

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