When we go to the doctor, we trust that he/ she will do a good job of diagnosing and treating our ailments. However, when they make a mistake in treatment or diagnosis, it raises a number of issues. First, we will be concerned about our well-being and to what extent the doctor’s error will impact our condition. Second, we may start wondering whether the doctor’s mistake amounts to medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice is not an easy subject. It’s important to understand that just because your treatment did not go as expect, doesn’t mean that the doctor was negligent. Which leads us to our next point…
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is more than just merely pointing out that the doctor made a mistake. In order to bring a successful medical malpractice lawsuit, the following elements must be in place:
- A relationship between you and the doctor or a doctor-patient relationship
- The provision of care fell below the accepted medical standard of care
- A connection between the doctor’s negligence and your injuries and
- Quantifiable harm to you as a result of the doctor’s negligence
Defining medical malpractice means defining some of the elements mentioned above. Specifically, you’ll have to define the standard of medical care and the doctor’s breach of that standard.
The most contentious element to define and to prove is the standard of medical care. Medical standard of care is defined as the type and amount of skill and attention that a medical professional with training similar to that of your doctor’s would have provided to you under the same circumstances. It’s a very complex subject due to all the “legalese” involved.
Doctor’s breach of medical standard of care is all about proving how they fell short of meeting the standard while providing care to you.
When is it Considered Medical Malpractice?
When There’s Negligence
Negligence occurs when the doctor fails to provide the type and level of care that a similarly skilled and educated doctor would provide under the same circumstances. Negligence can occur in a number of ways including:
- Failure to advise a patient about the risks involved with certain procedures
- Failing to advise a patient about the risks involved with taking certain medications
- Failing to diagnose a life threatening condition
- Unacceptable errors during surgery
Doctor’s are human beings and there is always the chance that they might make a mistake. Besides, medicine is a science and doctors use their knowledge and experience to take care of patients as best as they possibly can. But if their mistakes fall below the applicable standard of medical care, it may be considered medical malpractice.
In very rare circumstances, a doctor’s actions or inactions may be considered reckless. For instance, when a surgeon performed surgery on you but made several mistakes because he was drunk or under the influence of drugs.
Another example is when a doctor knowingly administers potentially lethal levels of medication to a patient. A classic example of such a case is the 2011 criminal case of Dr. Conrad Murray where he administered a massive overdose of the general anesthetic, Propofol, to Michael Jackson, which allegedly led to his death.
When it’s not Medical Malpractice
When Your Condition is Untreatable
Not all diseases are curable. If the doctor correctly diagnoses you with an untreatable condition, you cannot sue them for medical malpractice based on how they decide to proceed with care. For instance, if you were diagnosed with cancer, the doctor may recommend surgery to remove the cancerous tissue. However, there is a chance that the cancer might return and if that happens, you cannot sue the doctor because it came back.
Your Condition Worsens
You also cannot accuse a doctor of medical malpractice if your condition becomes worse during the course of treatment. There is no guarantee that every patient will respond as expected to treatment in every situation. For instance, if you have never been treated with Penicillin or any other closely related antibiotics, your doctor may not know if you are allergic to it. So if they prescribe Penicillin and you develop a severe reaction to it, consequently worsening your condition, the doctor cannot be accused of medical malpractice.
Get Expert Help
Medical malpractice cases are complex and they often include complex questions that only a medical expert can answer. You may need to discuss your case with a medical malpractice attorney.
You can contact any one of our Kevin P Landry Law Offices New Bedford medical malpractice lawyers by calling 508-999-0800 or visit our offices in New Bedford for a free initial consultation.