About Medical Malpractice

An Overview of Negligence & Wrongdoing in the Medical Field

Medical malpractice is a complex area of law. It involves highly technical medical procedures, thousands upon thousands of different illnesses and injuries and the burden of proving that a medical professional has failed to provide a standard level of treatment or care. It is therefore extremely helpful to get a better idea of the subject as a whole. This can better prepare you for what's to come and can help you determine whether to move forward with a claim.

What is malpractice?
The term "malpractice" may be defined as professional misconduct of some kind. Negligent, immoral, unethical or illegal conduct on the part of a professional may constitute malpractice, and when this occurs in the field of medicine, this may be referred to as medical malpractice. Those who have been injured by medical malpractice may be entitled to financial compensation from the party or parties responsible for their injuries.

Doctor-Patient Confidentiality Breach
There are different types of medical malpractice, and one is a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality. Patients have the right to privacy and to expect that information regarding their medical conditions will not be disclosed to others, even family members (unless this is allowed by law, as in a case where the parent of a child would be informed of his or her condition).

Lack of Informed Consent
A medical professional has an obligation to inform a patient of the potential risks and benefits associated with any type of medical procedure, whether it is a routine operation or complicated surgery. A patient has the right to be told of all treatment options so he or she can give informed consent to treatment. A failure to obtain informed consent (typically in non-emergency situations) may be considered a form of medical malpractice.

Medical Malpractice Statutes of Limitations
Every state has laws that set forth specific time limits on how long a patient has to file a medical malpractice claim against a healthcare professional. In New York, for example, a patient has 2 1/2 years from the date of injury or when the injury was or should have reasonably been discovered to take legal action. These time limits will vary depending on the age of the patient (children, for example, may have until they are 18 years old to file a claim) and the specific circumstances at hand.

Proving Malpractice
Proving malpractice can be difficult. The field of medicine is highly technical and complex. It will usually be necessary to work with expert witnesses in medicine and professional investigators to build a compelling case that shows a doctor, nurse, surgeon or other medical professional provided substandard care. The complexity of medical malpractice lawsuits makes it particularly important to involve a qualified lawyer who has the resources to properly investigate and handle a case.

Substandard Care
In dealing with medical malpractice claims, a term one may hear often is "substandard care" or "substandard medical care." This is essentially a level of medical care that is below the current accepted standards. Because there are so many different types of treatments available and medical professionals in various specialties may be held to different standards, this is one of the more complex areas of a medical malpractice claim.

What is my claim worth?
There are a number of individual factors that may have a direct impact on the value of a medical malpractice claim. This may include the type and severity of injury experienced, the medical bills resulting from the injury, whether the victim will require future medical care, any lost wages from missed work, loss of future earnings and the laws of the state applying to medical malpractice compensation.

To learn more, find a medical malpractice attorneyin your area.