Medical malpractice takes place when a health care provider acts in a negligent way that results in the injury or wrongful death of a patient. This injury or death can be the result of the medical professional deviating from the accepted standards of practice in the medical field, not preventing an injury at birth, and not giving a proper diagnose or misdiagnosis of a medical condition. Medical malpractice can happen when an inappropriate action is taken by a medical professional or when a medical professional fails to take the appropriate actions for their patient. Each country and its jurisdictions can have medical malpractice standards and regulations that vary from one another. However, medical professionals must maintain professional liability insurance to help with malpractice lawsuits.
A claim or lawsuit must be filed by the plaintiff against the defendant once medical malpractice has occurred. A lawsuit must be filed according to the statue of limitations laws, which can vary from state to state. The plaintiff will be the patient, a legal representative acting on behalf of the patient, or the overseer of a deceased patient’s assets when a wrongful death has occurred. The medical professional will be the defendant. The lawsuit can be filed against doctors, nurses, dentists, therapists, and hospitals. In order for the malpractice claim to be successful the plaintiff must prove that it is more likely than not that the medical professional was the cause of the injury and damages to the plaintiff. The plaintiff must be able to prove the following:
· The medical professional had a duty to the patient- a legal duty arises whenever a patient receives care, treatment, or services from a medical professional.
· The medical professional breached the duty- the medical professional failed to provide the appropriate care, treatment, or services that are equal to the standard of care performed by professionals. The mistake can be obvious or expert testimony can be used to show that the standard of care was not provided.
· The medical professional’s breach of duty caused the injury and damages to the patient.
If a plaintiff is successful in proving that medical malpractice occurred, the patient can receive compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages include financial compensation for the physical and psychological distress caused by the injury and financial losses such as medical bills and lost wages. Punitive damages are used to punish the defendant and discourage them from acting in the same manner again.