Things You Need to Know About Medical Negligence and Malpractice

March 10, 2015 Updated: June 6, 2016

Contrary to popular beliefs, medical malpractice is fairly common. What’s more, even the numbers of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in courts are on the rise. Even then, the general awareness about medical malpractice, medical negligence, the differences between the two, the rights of citizens in terms of litigations and ensuing compensations is not something that can be termed substantial. Just take a look at the medical negligence statistics published by courts or local legal bodies in your district, and come to terms with the extent to which medical malpractice has spread, and also the ever increasing number of people who are knocking at lawyer’s doors to help them in cases of medical negligence causing harm.

The Basics of Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence

If you feel that you, or somebody from your family, has not been treated properly at a medical facility by a doctor or nurse, the option of seeking legal discourse might not suggest itself automatically. However, medical malpractice happens to be an important part of civil litigations. Medical negligence relates closely to medical malpractice; however, the terms are not to be confused as synonyms. Medical negligence is a part of medical malpractice; so, being a victim of medical negligence doesn’t in itself entitle you to sue the medical professionals with a medical malpractice case. However, if medical negligence is on the part of a medical attendant, doctor, or hospital, if held directly responsible for causing harm to a person, qualifies as something that can be contested in court. Simply put, these three statements need to be true for medical negligence to be treated as medical malpractice:

  • The medical practitioner is deemed to have been negligent in performing his/her duties. This could be anything—right from an incorrect diagnosis, prescription of inappropriate medicines, negligently performed surgeries, etc.
  • The negligence is found to have caused an injury; injury here could be of any magnitude, right from leaving rashes on the patient’s skin to irregular working of internal organs.
  • The injury is directly held responsible for causing harm; physical pain, worsening of a medical condition, mental trauma, loss of pay because of patient’s inability to go to work, unjustified medical bills, etc are all examples of harm.

Understanding and Preparing for Medical Malpractices Litigation

Now that you are in a position to understand the groundwork upon which the whole medical malpractices law is based, let us spend some time in understanding the answers to some of the questions you would be faced with in the unfortunate case of having to pursue a case against a medical practitioner or hospital for negligence.

Objectively Consider the Availability of Proof

Merely observing that the performance of surgery left you with a swollen face doesn’t entitle you for a medical malpractices case against the doctor. Broadly speaking, you need proof to establish beyond doubt that the services delivered by the medical man in question fell below the expected standards at that time, in the country. Also, that the harm caused to you resulted from the injuries coming from the doctor’s negligence needs to be proved. Generally, opinions of experts and analyses by professionals are needed to establish such facts.

Whom Do You Sue?

Medical negligence cases can become really twisted. It becomes necessary to determine pretty swiftly as to who the alleged culprits are – the doctor, the attendants, or both. Moreover, if you face the negligence trouble in a hospital, then you need to consider the need or option of suing the doctor, the staff, and the hospital. Even then, it would need to be seen as to whether the doctors involved are employees of the hospital, or just visiting consultants with special practice privileges. Attorneys are mostly concerned about considering as to which valid guilty party is also in a position to bear the compensation claims, if proven. This makes the consultation of an experienced attorney an important matter in medical malpractices cases of massive implications.

Who Bears the Compensation Expense If the Litigation Concludes in Your Favor?

In cases where the negligence of a doctor leads to severe bodily harm to a person, or incapacitates him/her from pursuing employment any further, or worse of all, leads to a person’s death, then the amounts of compensations sought and awarded become huge. A natural question to arise in such a scenario is—how does the guilty party pay the amount. Actually, the answer differs on case to case basis. In countries like Canada, there are well entrenched medical bodies that have billions of dollars available in funds, contributed as yearly fees by thousands of medical men and hospitals, from which compensation claims on members can be paid. Also, medical practitioners have liability insurance covers, which provide for compensation if needed.