Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider or professional neglects to provide appropriate treatment, gives poor treatment or omits to take any proper actions that cause injury, harm, or death to a patient. The negligence or malpractice usually involves a medical error. This could be in aftercare, treatment, health management, medication dosage, or diagnosis. Medical malpractice law in the United States enables patients to recover reparation from any harm that results from any inappropriate treatment.
As per the statistics generated by the Medical Malpractice Center, there are around 15,000-19,000 medical negligence suits against healthcare professionals in the United States every year.
What is medical malpractice/negligence?
A healthcare professional, doctor, or hospital is expected to provide a certain standard of care to their patients. Although they are not liable for any harm the patient experiences under their supervision, they are legally responsible if they deviated from the quality of care that was meant to be offered.
As per the lawyers in the United States, for medical negligence to be considered, the following aspects must be involved:
- Failure to provide promised care: The law demands doctors, and healthcare providers abide by specific standards, else face an accusation of malpractice.
- An injury results from negligence: there can be no claim if the patient feels the doctor was negligent, but no injury was caused. The patient needs to prove negligence.
- The harm must have injurious consequences: the patient needs to show that the harm or injury caused by inattention resulted in significant damage.
The damage could be anything from:
- Considerable loss of income
- Constant pain
- Enduring hardship
The types of negligence and error that could occur
Examples of cases where malpractice or mistake could lead to a lawsuit may include:
- Bedsores or pressure ulcers
- Potentially fatal infection acquired in the hospital
- The patient has persistent pain after the surgery
- Surgery on the wrong part of the body
- Leaving things inside the patient’s body after the operation
- Prescribing the wrong medication or dosage
- Not following up
- Failure to act on results such as not ordering appropriate tests
- Premature discharge
- Incorrect or unnecessary surgery
- Failure to diagnose or misdiagnose
Other serious incidents may include patients developing suicidal tendencies while in the care of medical staff and fires in hospitals or clinics.
Certain measures have been implemented to reduce the incident of infringement in hospitals. This includes:
- Sustained implementation of hand hygiene rules
- Establishment of guidelines for best medical practice
What does a medical negligence case involve?
There are several entities involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- The plaintiff is the individual who complains – this can be either the patient or someone who acts on the patient’s behalf in case the patient dies
- The defendant is the party who is being prosecuted – this can be the hospital, the doctor, nurse, or the medical staff
- The fact-finder is the jury or the judge
Dissatisfaction with the outcome of treatment doesn’t imply medical negligence. It is only considered malpractice if there is negligence causing injury.