Medical negligence is when a medical professional fails to provide a reasonable standard of care. Medical malpractice is when a patient is injured as a result of negligence.
In other words, a physician could be negligent but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a malpractice case. For instance, if you were accidentally prescribed the wrong type of medication to treat an ailment, this would be considered medical negligence. But if you suffered no ill effects from it, you wouldn’t be able to file a malpractice claim.
Types of Medical Negligence
A misdiagnosis can’t always be prevented, but if obvious symptoms aren’t recognized or the proper tests aren’t run, it may indicate negligence.
While not every health problem leads to severe consequences if not correctly diagnosed, some specific health problems generally lead to significant complications if a misdiagnosis or failure to act occurs and patients who suffer these problems should take special note:
- heart attack;
- pulmonary embolism; and
Another type of medical negligence can arise out of medication errors. A medication error occurs when a patient is prescribed the wrong kind of medicine or the wrong dosage.
In some cases, there can be a combination of negligent actions that would necessitate a major medical malpractice claim filing. If the wrong diagnosis is given, a patient could end up receiving medication that is not only unnecessary, but causes further damage and medical complications.
Medical complications do not occur only from medicines. Surgical mistakes can result from operating on the wrong person or wrong part of the body, or leaving a surgical instrument inside a patient. Each medical malpractice case will require specific work to be done to prove it, as each one is special in its own way.
Elements in a Medical Malpractice Case
A claim can only be filed if certain elements are established. One of the first is showing that the healthcare provider owed a duty of care to the patient.
Whether it is a nurse, doctor, dentist, anesthesiologist or any other type of medical professional, there are expectations pertaining to patient care, such as providing a standard level of care. This is based on what other reasonable professionals in the same set of circumstances would do.
The second element is showing a breach in the duty of care. This is where medical negligence must be proven:
- surgical mistakes; and
- medication errors.
If the medical professional left an object in the patient’s body, for instance, it would be a clear violation of the standard of care, as other reasonable professionals would be expected to ensure all objects are removed.
The final element is proving that as a result of medical negligence, the patient suffered injuries and damages. Minor injuries or those that result in a quick recovery with no damages may not truly warrant a claim, but more serious injuries with significant damages may be grounds to pursue a claim.
These cases can be difficult to prove because an existing health problem could be blamed as the cause of some injuries or illnesses. The key will be connecting the negligent actions to the injuries. This may require testimony from a medical expert.
Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Claim
The attorneys at Mellino Robenalt LLC can provide legal guidance if you believe you have a case of medical malpractice. A lawyer can discuss whether medical negligence occurred, and if it warrants a claim (440) 333-3800.