What is Medical Malpractice?

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice refers to the harm caused to a patient due to a doctor, nurse, or other professional health care professional’s negligence. Every time a patient has a bad outcome or sustains an injury during a hospital stay may not constitute medical malpractice. Certain factors must exist in order to have a claim.

First, a doctor/patient (or health care professional/patient) relationship must exist. Thus, relying on a friend’s advice – who is also doctor – not to obtain medical treatment when it’s necessary and you sustain additional harm – is typically not actionable.

Further, you must be able to show that the doctor owed a certain degree of professional care (duty of care) and that they breached this duty. For example, typically expert opinion will be necessary to establish what steps are usually taken and expected as the standard of care in a particular medical scenario, and that the medical professional treating you failed to take those steps. This is typically referred to as a “breach” of the professional duty.

The next step is to show that this breach caused your harm. If you suffered an injury but the doctor did everything correctly, then a claim for medical malpractice does not likely exists. Likewise, if the physician breaches the requisite duty, but you do not suffer harm as a result, you also will not have a strong medical malpractice claim. The best medical malpractice claims have a strong connection between the doctor’s breach and harm sustained.

Finally, it is important to be able to show that the breach caused significant, potentially permanent harm. Bringing a successful medical malpractice suit can be very expensive. Thus, the strongest cases that have the best chance of a meaningful recovery include those where the damages are significant, such as a catastrophic injury, the loss of a limb, paraplegia and in the worst-case scenario, death.

If you have any question concerning a potential medical malpractice case, please contact our compassionate and knowledgeable Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyers at Bostwick & Peterson, LLP for an immediate consultation.

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