The relationship between doctor and patient is one founded on trust. The patient relies on the physician to provide the best care possible, using recognized standards of quality and experience. Even though most physicians are scrupulous in the execution of their medical duties, mistakes can occur. When these mistakes lead to injury or death, a medical malpractice case may be filed to compensate the injured party or the surviving family for their losses. A medical malpractice FAQ can help to inform the public at large about the procedures for filing a case.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is defined as any act or omission done by a physician during treatment that deviates from accepted medical standards and causes an injury to the patient. Current U.S. medical malpractice law has its origins in 19th century English common law. In the United States, medical malpractice is adjudicated under state law, and individual legislatures have passed a number of statutes regarding the topic. In certain limited circumstances, medical malpractice cases may involve federal law.
What Kinds of Actions Can Cause a Medical Malpractice Suit?
Certain types of action generally cause errors that can trigger a medical malpractice case, such as:
· Failure to diagnose a medical problem that leads to an injury or death
· Improper treatment that deviates from methods used by other similarly qualified healthcare professionals
· Failure to warn the patient of a known risk that could occur because of treatment.
Are Physicians the Only Health Professionals Who Can Be Sued?
Anyone involved in the care of an individual, such as a nurse, dentist, technician, hospital worker or the hospital itself can be named in a medical malpractice lawsuit if the care of the injured party deviated from standard care.
Can Anyone File A Medical Malpractice Suit If Unhappy with the Result of Treatment?
In general, patients are provided “informed consent” that provides information about the expected results of treatment. However, there are no guarantees with medical treatment. A medical malpractice lawsuit comes into play if the treatment deviates from standardized care that would be received anywhere else. In these cases, a lawsuit is considered when an injury has occurred.
What Conditions Are Necessary For Medical Malpractice To Occur?
Three basic conditions must be fulfilled before a medical malpractice case can be filed:
· A physician-patient or caregiver-patient relationship must have existed.
· The healthcare provider was negligent in providing care.
· The negligence caused the injury.
· The injury led to specific damages, such as physical pain, additional medical bills, mental anguish or lost wages.
How Can I Tell if Standard Care Was Provided?
If an injury has occurred, a patient can have another physician review the case to determine if standard care was provided. If not, the advising physician can sign a “Certificate of Merit” that states that a deviation from standard care has occurred. This document can be the basis for a case against the attending physician. Your personal injury attorney can then use this document to notify the party of the intent to file a medical malpractice case. Mediation or arbitration may then take place. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case then goes to court.
Will My Case Go To Court Or Be Settled Out of Court?
Your attorney will help you determine a fair amount of compensation for your case. If the legal representative of the defendant in the medical malpractice does not agree to a sufficient amount of money for compensation of your injury, your attorney will take the case to court for adjudication.
How Long Does A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Take To Complete?
Each medical malpractice case is unique, and a number of factors may come into play that adds to the amount of time it takes to reach a final decision of compensation. However, a study done by the New England Journal of Medicine found that the average length of a medical malpractice case was about 5 years. Some cases take less time than this amount, and other cases take a longer time than this amount of time.
How Is My Attorney Paid for Handling the Medical Malpractice Case?
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. That is, your attorney is paid a percentage of the amount you receive as a settlement or jury award. If you do not win your case, you owe nothing to the attorney.
This medical malpractice faq provides the basics regarding these cases. If you have been involved in a medical injury, consult with an experienced attorney for further information.