What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is defined as an act of negligence conducted by a health care professional toward a patient. In a medical malpractice case, the quality of treatment supplied by the health care provider varies from what is the acceptable recognized standard of practice within the medical community, causing either injury or death to the patient.
In order to properly establish a successful medical malpractice claim, the patient must be able to determine the four rudiments of the tort of negligence. These elements are as follows:
A Duty to the Patient was Owed
A legal duty to the patient is present in the event that the health care provider or other medical professional assumes treatment and care of the patient.
A Duty to the Patient was Breached
The legal duty to the patient was breached in that the medical provider did not comply with the appropriate standard of health care. A breach in duty should be proven either by obvious fault of the health care provider to provide adequate care or by expert testimony. An obvious error that speaks for itself is referred to in the legal field as the doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitur.
The Breach in Duty Resulted in Injury
A breach in the legal duty of the health care provider to provide a specific standard of care to the patient was a direct cause of injury or death to the patient.
Damages to the Patient
In order to establish a sound basis for a medical malpractice claim, the patient must have incurred resulting damages in the form of either monetary or emotional loss. These damages must be in direct connection to the breach in duty.
Regulations and Statute of Limitations
The regulations and standards regarding medical malpractice vary by jurisdiction within individual countries. Health care professionals are required by law to maintain liability insurance in an effort to offset the risks of medical malpractice lawsuits. Additionally, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed by the patient, or representative of the patient, within a given amount of time, as set forth by the statute of limitations within the common law legal system. The statutes for each individual type of medical malpractice differ by jurisdiction.