We when we visits our doctors, we trust that they will do all that they can to improve our health. However, no matter how good your doctor’s reputation is, even the best of the best can sometimes make a critical error. But how can you tell if a doctor’s mistake is grounds for legal action? In this blog, we briefly explain some important aspects of medical malpractice law, so that you can determine if you are eligible to pursue damages for medical malpractice.
What Is the Definition of Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional’s negligence results in a patient being harmed. Although there are numerous accidents that can occur in the general practice of medicine at a hospital or other medical-care facility, some incidents that cause harm to patients could have been avoided. When a physician’s actions result in a preventable injury, the patient has the right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit for damages they sustained.
What Are the Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim?
In order for a health care professional’s negligence to be considered "actionable," the following elements must be present:
- A duty owed to someone
- A breach of that duty
- The breach of that duty has to result in harm or damage that is “proximately” caused by that breach
In medical malpractice cases, the term “proximate cause” is essentially saying, “but for" the alleged negligence of the medical professional, the patient would not have suffered harm. If the injury still would have occurred regardless of the act of malpractice in question, the claim for damages would be invalid.
Duty of Care
Before a doctor’s performance and competency can be judged, it must first be established that the physician indeed owed a duty of care to the patient. In general, a person doesn’t have an affirmative duty to assist injured people in the absence of a special relationship with them. However, once a doctor voluntarily decides to assist a person, they become liable for any injury that results from their negligent actions or errors. Once a doctor-patient relationship has been established, the doctor owes to the patient a duty of care and treatment that is line with the degree of skill, care, and diligence that is possessed by, or expected of, a reasonably competent physician in a similar situation.
Tort reform is a change in laws regarding who can sue or be sued, mostly made to limit large awards for damages. The primary reasoning behind tort reform is that medical malpractice lawsuits are one of the biggest contributors to the high cost of medical services.
However, a 2009 study that was published by the Congressional Budget Office concluded that limiting malpractice liability would only reduce health care spending in the United States by just one-half of 1 percent. Still, the fear of being sued has led many doctors to perform what is known as "defensive medicine." This is the act of ordering extra tests and using expensive imaging devices to build a defense in case a patient might try to sue them.
Do You Need Help with Your Malpractice Claim?
From finding credible medical experts to gathering evidence to build your case, medical malpractice claims can be complicated. Having a skilled attorney by your side to handle your claim can make a substantial difference in the outcome of your case. Our skilled team of attorneys can review your case and determine what legal options are available for you.
Call (410) 698-1717, or contact our Baltimore medical malpractice litigation lawyers to setup your free consultation with our legal team today. We are available to assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.