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What constitutes medical malpractice?

What constitutes medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice refers to the instance when a patient suffers harm due to the actions of a healthcare provider, whether a doctor, nurse, hospital staff or the hospital itself. When injuries occur due to the error or mistakes of medical providers, you may be able to file a claim for medical malpractice.  Examples of negligence include surgical errors, delays or failures to diagnose certain conditions, and other mistakes in treatment.

Some overarching principles to keep in mind if you believe you may have a medical malpractice cases include:

Did a doctor-patient relationship exist?

Before you file a claim for medical malpractice, you must be able to show that a doctor patient relationship existed such that an enhanced duty of care was created, i.e. that you have hired the doctor and that the doctor was treating you.  It is may be hard to show negligence on the part of doctors who are not specifically providing care to a patient, even though they may provide some advice and consultation in particular cases.

Was the health care provider negligent? 

The next step in proving medical malpractice is to show that the health care worker was negligent.  Simply because you had a bad outcome, doesn’t mean that the doctor was negligent.  The health care worker must have taken actions that deviated from the standard of care.  This means he or she failed to act the way a reasonably competent health care professional would have acted in similar circumstances.

Did the doctor's negligence caused your injury?

Even where you can show that a physician was negligence, you must also be able to prove that this negligence directly led to your injury.  This situation often arises in cancer cases or other serious illness, where a doctor fails to act quickly to diagnose and treat a condition, but unfortunately, the patient would have a negative outcome even if no negligence would have occurred.  Often, the determination whether the health care providers caused the injury is made through expert evaluation and testimony.

Did the injury lead to specific harm and damages?

In addition to showing that the health care provider was negligent, you must also show that his or her negligent actions caused specific harm.  This typically includes serious physical injuries and in the worst case, death.   Where the negligence did not lead to lasting harm, or only caused minor injuries, despite deviating from the standard of care.

Types of damages that can be recovered include medical costs, physical pain, economic damages and emotional distress.

For more information, or if you believe you or a loved one has suffered medical malpractice, contact the dedicated Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyers at Bostwick & Peterson LLP for an immediate consultation.



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