Common Questions and Answers about Medical Malpractice
It’s striking to see just how far medicine has progressed over the years. Nowadays, countless diseases that once plagued mankind has been all but eradicated and even the arrivals of new viruses and infections are responded to with speed, precision, and efficacy by medical experts across the globe, resulting in record-breaking vaccine developments and many lives saved.
Life expectancies all over the world have been extended, thanks to the advancements of modern medicine, and when we visit our own local doctor or hospital for some sort of treatment or diagnosis, we expect to be treated with the highest standards of care and expertise, with accurate diagnoses and correct treatment recommendations provided every time.
Unfortunately, it isn’t possible for every medical professional to make the right call every single time. Doctors, nurses, specialists, and surgeons do make mistakes from time to time. Sometimes, these mistakes are pure accidents, while other times, they can occur due to negligence or other more serious issues.
Either way, when this sort of issue occurs, it can fall into the category of medical malpractice. Nearly a quarter of a million people die in the US every year due to medical malpractice, and countless more suffer serious consequences and changes in their lives because of medical errors. Here are some common questions and answers about how it all works.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a term used to describe situations in which a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional or provider causes some sort of injury or death to a patient because of a mistake they made. This may be due to negligence, recklessness, or omission.
There are many different cases in which medical malpractice may apply. If a doctor prescribes the wrong medication, for example, or if they fail to take a patient’s family medical history into account before making a diagnosis.
What Are the Characteristics of a Medical Malpractice Case?
There are three main characteristics to look at when defining a case of medical malpractice:
- A violation of care – Medical professionals are duty-bound to provide a certain level of care to their patients. If this care is violated, it’s the first sign of medical malpractice.
- Injury – Some sort of injury needs to occur to the patient, which may be in the form of physical or mental harm, due to the negligence or omission of their healthcare provider.
- Significant damages – The injury caused by the healthcare provider’s negligence or omission should have led to significant damages for the patient in question in order for a case of medical malpractice to be founded and justified.
So, for instance, if a patient suffers a bit of soreness after a vaccine injection or operation due to a provider’s negligence, they might not necessarily be able to put together a case of medical malpractice. Even though the provider violated their duty of care and caused a minor injury, the damages involved may not be significant enough to warrant a full malpractice case.
What Are Some Examples of Medical Malpractice?
In order to fully understand medical malpractice, it can be helpful to look at some examples:
- A misdiagnosis of an illness or injury, leading to that injury/illness getting worse.
- Misreading of test results leads to additional suffering for the patient.
- Surgical errors like operating on the wrong limb or organ.
- Sending a patient home from the hospital too early without proper aftercare.
How Much Can A Victim of Medical Malpractice Receive?
The average payout for medical malpractice lawsuits in the US is close to a quarter of a million dollars. There are cases in which plaintiffs receive in excess of $1,000,000, and others where plaintiffs receive under $100,000.
It depends on a lot of different factors, such as the location in which the incident occurred, the circumstances surrounding the incident, the level of damages sustained by the plaintiff, the financial costs of the defendant’s action or inaction, and so on.
Settlement negotiations for medical malpractice cases can be long and drawn-out, but if the malpractice insurers see that they don’t have a strong defense, they’ll usually want to settle before the case reaches a court and is seen in front of a jury to avoid an even bigger payout.
The more you know about medical malpractice, the more ready you’ll be to handle any cases that may arise in your own life. If you do ever suspect medical malpractice, it’s best to contact a trusted legal firm as soon as possible to get the help you need.