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What Is Medical Malpractice?


Medical malpractice makes the news very often, and many reports talk about large injury verdicts for people who are victims of medical malpractice. But what is medical malpractice, and how is it generally proven in court?

When Are Doctors Negligent?

Any medical provider can commit malpractice–not just doctors. Anesthesiologists, radiologists, therapists, nurses, and anybody in a medical field can be sued for malpractice.

Just because your doctor doesn’t heal you, or your condition, injury, illness or disease get worse, doesn’t always mean that there has been malpractice. Medicine is still not an exact science, and even the best doctors are not able to heal all of us, completely, all the time.

However, a bad outcome—getting worse, or not getting better, or the progression of a disease that could have and should have gotten better—can be a sign that there may have been medical malpractice.

To see if your doctor committed malpractice, the law looks to see if your doctor acted in a way that other doctors, in the same field, and faced with the same circumstances, would have acted. If your doctor made a mistake that 99 of 100 doctors would have made, there is no malpractice.

Another way of looking at malpractice is to ask whether or not your doctor acted up to the accepted standard of care.

Common Ways Doctors Commit Malpractice

Some common ways that doctors commit malpractice include:

  • Making an error in a procedure, such as cutting a nerve during surgery, or providing the incorrect amount of anesthesia, or operating when an operation was not necessary
  • Overlooking a symptom, and thus, failing to make a correct diagnosis, or failing to prescribe the correct medicine
  • Diagnosing you or treating you for the wrong disease or illness
  • Overlooking something in your medical history, like an allergy, or a pre-existing condition, which could affect the kind of treatment that you need

Proving Malpractice

To prove medical malpractice, your attorney will likely hire an expert witness doctor for you to review your case. That expert will review your medical records, and give his or her opinion on whether or not your doctor acted carelessly, and in a way that other doctors would not have acted.

Often, the Defendant will argue that the malpractice did not cause your injury, illness or disease.

For example, assume that your doctor did not notice a cancer, and later, your cancer gets worse, or you pass away because the cancer spreads. The doctor may argue that even if he had caught the cancer, it would have been too late—in other words, the failure to recognize, treat or diagnose the cancer did not cause the death, but the cancer itself did.

Your expert will have to testify that your condition could have gotten better—or at least, not gotten as bad—had your doctor acted promptly and properly.

Are you a victim of malpractice? We can help. Call the Clinton personal injury attorneys at Fox Willis Burnette, PLLC today.



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