Not Every Medical Error is Considered Medical Malpractice
While doctors and healthcare professionals have an obligation to uphold a high standard of care for their patients, mistakes can and do occur. However, medical malpractice (a/k/a medical negligence) isn’t just making a mistake. Negligence is defined as “unreasonable conduct” on the part of the doctor or healthcare professional. Leaving a surgical sponge inside of a patient after surgery, prescribing the wrong medication for a patient, amputating the wrong leg, or failing to monitor a patient closely during surgery (or during labor) are all examples of medical malpractice.
A physician must take all normal and expected steps and precautions which other physicians would reasonably take when performing a surgical procedure or engaging in a course of medical treatment. In other words, all physicians must comply with the “standard of care” expected in the medical community.
In Order to Prove Medical Malpractice, Your Attorney Must Establish Four Essential Elements:
- There was a doctor/patient relationship between the physician and the patient, which created a duty to provide “standard of care” medical and surgical treatment;
- The doctor deviated from accepted standards of medical practice (i.e., committed negligence/medical malpractice);
- The medical malpractice caused harm to the patient; and
- Damages were sustained (e.g., death, disability, pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, etc.).
Medical Errors – Not Every Poor Outcome is the Result of Medical Malpractice
Bad outcomes can be caused by known, accepted, and recognized risks and complications which are not necessarily considered to be malpractice. For instance, a patient might suffer an adverse reaction to a medication or an unforeseen and unpreventable complication during surgery or anesthesia. There are known and accepted risks to any surgical procedure (bleeding and infection, for example) that can occur even if the procedure is performed properly and correctly. Even if performed to perfection, many surgical procedures still have a small, but known and recognized, failure rate. In other words, every bad medical result is not necessarily medical malpractice.
Before deciding whether you suffered a known and accepted complication or medical malpractice, your attorney will seek to answer one very important question. “Would a reasonable physician have made the same diagnosis, rendered the same treatment, or performed the same surgical procedure in the same way?” If the answer to these questions are “no,” then you may have cause to file a medical malpractice claim against the negligent healthcare professional or institution.
Due to the complexities surrounding medical errors and medical malpractice cases, it is highly recommended that you speak to an attorney with extensive experience representing victims of medical errors and medical malpractice. Your attorney can review the details of your case to help you choose the legal path that is best for you.
Contact Our Pennsylvania and New Jersey Medical Malpractice Lawyers
The medical malpractice attorneys at McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C., have more than 100 years of combined experience representing injured patients and their families across Philadelphia, Berks, Bucks, Dauphin, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Montgomery, and Northampton Counties, as well as in the State of New Jersey. Contact us today toll-free at 1-855-633-6251 or fill out our confidential contact form to learn more about your legal options.