If you or someone you know was a victim of medical malpractice, you know how devastating and overwhelming these circumstances can be. You might lose time, money, and functions you have otherwise grown accustomed to having.
Many people think they can file a lawsuit against a physician for anything they feel they did wrong. But the truth is that there are specific requirements for a case to be considered malpractice and qualify for a hearing.
Breach of standard of care
Failure to deliver standard of care is one of the most important elements in determining whether or not an incident is malpractice. It’s an often misunderstood legal term that basically means the patient was treated with acceptable medical care by competent health care professionals. And if it can be proven that this was not the case, then it might be possible to bring a lawsuit for against the individual or establishment responsible.
But breach of standard of care is not enough to present a case. The patient must also prove that the physician or institution was negligent in doing so. They must prove that their pain, injury, or death (in the case of a family suing on behalf of a loved one) was the direct result of negligence.
For example, let’s say there is a treatment available that has been very successful with a certain type of cancer. If a physician knows about it and does not use it, he or she could be liable if the patient suffers in any way as a result.
While malpractice laws vary slightly from country to country, negligence is a fairly standard criteria for warranting a lawsuit. This means California lawyers and Kamloops lawyers, for instance, would be looking for the exact same evidence to build a case against a medical professional when there is suspected malpractice.
If both breach of care and negligence is found in a medical situation, it must then be proven that they resulted in significant damages. In some cases, even small amounts of damages can be approved for litigation. But the legal fees to pursue it may not be worth the effort.
Damages can be broken down into economic and noneconomic categories. And either one is allowable for recovery, provided they meet all the criteria. Economic losses might include lost wages, medical expenses, funeral expenses, etc. And noneconomic damages can be things like mental anguish, disfigurement, death, or anything else that diminishes the patient’s quality of life.
Examples of medical malpractice
One example of medical malpractice that could likely meet all the above criteria is a misdiagnosis. For example, say a patient goes to the emergency room with symptoms of a heart attack, but the attending physician fails to run the appropriate tests. If this patient ends up actually suffering a heart attack, the doctor could be held responsible. In this case, you can clearly identify neglect and breach of standard of care.
Another example could be medication errors. Let’s say someone who just finished a medical assistant diploma program gave a patient in his care the wrong dosage of medicine. If the patient becomes ill because of this mistake, the caregiver will probably be liable. But in this situation, the case becomes a bit trickier.
For one thing, there are very few medical professionals actually trained and allowed to administer medication. Many facilities do hire medication aides with only certificates for this task. But if the person who made this error was not trained, his supervisor and possibly attending physician will also be held responsible.