Medical malpractice is a commonly used term, but it’s not always one patients fully understand. Most people hope they’re never in a situation that forces them to envision medical malpractice as a part of their life, but many people wonder if they’ve been a victim. This is where the problem lies. So many patients wonder if they are a medical malpractice victim, but they’re not always. Understanding what constitutes medical malpractice and what constitutes an unhappy patient are two different things, and the attorneys at Cirignani Heller & Harman LLP want to help you understand the difference between case of medical malpractice and no case at all.
Defined by law, medical malpractice occurs when doctors, nurses, or other medical professionals provide “improper, unskilled, or negligent treatment of a patient,” when the patient is in their care. This means the medical professional in question did not perform his or her duty of care while with a patient, and it means a variety of things. Common causes of medical malpractice include, but are not limited to, the following:
– Medication error
– Childbirth injuries
– Surgery errors
– Anesthesia errors
– Drinking or using drugs on the job
These are not the only causes of medical malpractice, but they are among the most common in the industry. While many patients have a long list of malpractice claims with which to contend, these are among the most commonly cited in lawsuits. Doctors ad their medical counterparts are human, and they do make mistakes. However, doctors are required by law to take an oath that requires they perform every duty with the highest level of care possible, and that means they make conscious decisions every day that affect the lives of others. While mistakes happen, many doctors and medical professionals could easily avoid making those mistakes. That’s what malpractice is.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is a poor outcome. Many patients find they are unsure whether a poor outcome means they were the victim of medical malpractice. This is not the case. When medical professionals try to help a person live, cure a disease, or help with a health issue, they cannot help everyone. If medical professionals do everything in their power to help you or your loved ones and the result is still not what you wanted, it’s not considered malpractice.
For example, if a patient with cancer seeks medical help from his or her doctor, the doctor might recommend a treatment method that is typically successful with patients. One good example is a mastectomy for a breast cancer patient to help prevent the return of cancer. If a patient later develops cancer again, it’s not medical malpractice. The doctor cannot guarantee it will not return again, just that this method of treatment decreases the chance of cancer reoccurring. This is not medical malpractice.
If, on the other side of the spectrum, a doctor tells a patient he or she will perform surgery to remove the cancer and the breast and shows up to perform surgery still drunk from an overindulgent night out, it’s medical malpractice. The doctor is not performing the highest level of care in this situation, which means a lawsuit is a good idea.
Medical malpractice is not always easy to understand, which is why the assistance of a trained, qualified attorney is what makes cases easier to deal with. You can help your loved ones and yourself by speaking with an experienced attorney if you feel that medical malpractice is something you or a loved one experienced.