Medical malpractice is a general term, which encompasses all those cases that result in undue injury to the patients due to medical negligence of the medical professional entrusted with the treatment of such patients. Medical malpractice laws are enacted to provide some financial relief and compensation to the victims of negligent medical care.
Although medical malpractice laws differ in States, there are some common elements comprising medical malpractice that exist in almost every state law. These are discussed below:
Duty of the Doctors towards Patients
Doctors are duty-bound to minimize the risk of further injury and damage to the patients who visit them for treatment. Essentially, a doctor’s duty toward patients is reflected by the following:
- Medical knowledge of the doctor is imparted by recognized medical colleges through extensive training and education, which will help the doctors to competently practice in their area of expertise.
- The doctor must possess all the necessary skills required to implement the medical knowledge for the treatment of their patients.
- Additionally, the doctor must exercise a standard level of care in a given situation, which is usually practiced by most medical professionals within the same area of expertise.
- Finally, a doctor must have the ability to exercise sound judgment based on their education and skills concerning the treatment line to be followed in every case.
Breach of Duty of the Doctors towards Patients
A doctor is said to be in breach of duty towards patients if they fail to satisfy any of the aforementioned conditions of duty. Any breach of duty by the doctor could result in a case of medical negligence against such a doctor. In case the line of treatment adopted by the doctor fails to meet the medically accepted standard of care, a case of medical negligence could be brought against the doctor.
Injury to the Patient Resulting from Treatment by the Doctor
To make out a case of medical malpractice, it must be proved that there was some kind of physical or mental injury or damage suffered by the patient as a result of treatment by the medical professional. In case a suit is brought in a civil court, the actual damages suffered by the patient must be proved to make out a case of medical malpractice. The amount of compensation money claimed by the patient must be directly related to the injury caused by the medical negligence of the doctor.
To make a successful claim under medical malpractice laws, it must be proved that the injury caused is the direct result of the alleged medical negligence of the doctor. To prove causation in a case of medical malpractice, often the help of a third-party medical expert is sought who will investigate the case as a neutral independent witness, and assess whether the injury is a direct fallout of the medical negligence by the doctor during the treatment of the patient.
Disclaimer: Every effort was made at the time of publication to ensure the accuracy of this publication. Individual circumstances will vary, and the law may have changed since publication, thus it is not intended to provide legal advice or imply a certain outcome. Readers considering legal action should seek legal advice from an experienced attorney to learn about current laws and how they can affect their case.