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Medical Malpractice

What Is (and Is NOT) Medical Malpractice?

September 27, 2021

Medical malpractice happens when a health care professional causes harm to a patient because of an omission or negligent act. Medical malpractice or negligence involves errors in diagnosis, treatment, health management, medication dosage, or aftercare. A case can only be considered medical malpractice if there is negligence and harm or injury, and the harm or injury should result from the negligence.

Medical Malpractice Claim Requirements

Certain elements are required for a medical malpractice claim to be successful.

Failure to Provide Proper Standard of Care

The law requires health care professionals to adhere to certain medical standards, which the profession recognizes as acceptable medical treatment. Patients have a right to expect health care consistent with these standards. Negligence can be established if the standard of care is not met.

Injury Caused By Negligence

Patients must prove that negligence caused harm or injury. A medical malpractice claim cannot be valid if a health care professional violated the standard of care, but no harm or injury occurred. An injury without negligence or that cannot be directly linked to the negligence that occurred is not considered medical malpractice. Dissatisfaction with a treatment outcome may not necessarily mean medical malpractice has been committed.

The Injury Had Damaging Consequences

A medical malpractice case is viable if the patient shows that the injury or harm suffered led to considerable damages. Damages include significant medical bills, loss of income, disability, constant pain, and hardship.

Medical Malpractice Examples

Studies have found delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis to be the most common cause of medical malpractice. Medication errors are also a common form of medical malpractice. According to research, blood thinners account for about 7% of medication errors made during the treatment of hospitalized patients. Although they help prevent clots in arteries and veins, high doses put patients at an increased risk of bleeding.

Medical malpractice can occur if a health care professional fails to obtain informed consent before a procedure, and the procedure harms or injures a patient. Sexual misconduct by an attending physician can also be considered medical malpractice.

Other examples of negligence that could result in a medical malpractice lawsuit include:

  • Incorrect or unnecessary surgery
  • Poor aftercare or follow-up
  • Premature discharge
  • Failing to order proper tests
  • Infections acquired in hospitals
  • Bedsores or pressure ulcers

Medical malpractice cases depend on complex legal and medical issues. Chicago medical malpractice lawyers help people determine whether they have legitimate cases of medical malpractice.

About The Author

Photo of Jeffrey  Goldberg
Attorney Jeffrey M. Goldberg has spent his entire professional career handling cases involving birth injury, medical malpractice, product liability and related accidents.