In simplest terms, medical malpractice is any mistake by a medical professional and the mistake usually results in some type of injury, misdiagnosis, or death. In legal terms, medical malpractice as defined by American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (ABPLA) “occurs when a hospital, doctor or other health care professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. The negligence might be the result of errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare or health management.”
Medical malpractice may take many forms. It can be as subtle as receiving a delayed diagnosis during emergency room treatment, or it can be as egregious and obvious as amputating the wrong limb during surgery. Regardless of the severity of the medical mistake, how it came about, or how it impacted the patient, medical mistakes are all too common in this country, and they are something about which we should all be concerned.
Medical malpractice can occur in a small town urgent care in Booneville Arkansas, a hospital in Fort Smith, or it can take place in a chaotic emergency department in Little Rock. Because doctors and other medical professionals are human, mistakes will be made. But when those mistakes negatively impact your life, or cause your loved one’s death, you may have legal recourse, and a medical malpractice attorney like Phillip Milligan will be your guide through the very complex process of filing a medical malpractice claim.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
The most common examples of medical malpractice include:
- Failure to diagnose, delayed diagnosis, or misdiagnosis
- Misreading or ignoring laboratory results
- Unnecessary surgery
- Surgical errors or wrong site surgery
- Improper medication or dosage
- Poor follow-up or aftercare
- Premature discharge
- Disregarding or not taking appropriate patient history
- Failure to order proper testing
- Failure to recognize symptoms
The Legal Recipe for Medical Malpractice
The following must all be in place in order for a viable medical malpractice claim to exist:
- Standard of care was violated: The law acknowledges certain medical standards recognized by the profession as being acceptable medical treatment by reasonably prudent health care professionals under like or similar circumstances; this is what is known as “standard of care.” All patients have the right to expect that doctors and other health care professionals will deliver care that is consistent with these standards. Negligence may be established if it’s proven the standard of care was not met.
- An injury was caused by medical negligence: For a medical malpractice claim to be valid, it is not sufficient that a health care professional simply violated the standard of care, but the patient must also prove he sustained an injury that wouldn’t have occurred in the absence of that negligence. An unfavorable outcome, by itself, is not negligence. Likewise, if there is negligence but no injury, there is no viable medical malpractice claim.
- The injury resulted in significant damages: Medical malpractice lawsuits are among the most expensive injury claims because they always require testimony from medical experts and often require substantial additional evidence which can be time consuming and expensive to procure. To pursue a medical malpractice claim, the patient must show that the injury resulted in disability, loss of income, pain, suffering and hardship, or significant past and future medical bills. A medical malpractice attorney will typically not accept a case in which the cost of pursing the case may be more than the eventual recovery.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by medical negligence in Fort Smith or anywhere in Arkansas, please call us today. Medical malpractice claims are subject to statutes of limitations and, once that time has passed, no lawyer will be able to take your case.