Understanding Medical Negligence Basics

Medical malpractice claims are some of the most complicated cases that fall under the broad umbrella of personal injury law. Not only are there specific requirements that must be met for a legitimate medical negligence claim to exist, but patients must actually have been injured or harmed in some way.

Medical Negligence

This means that being dissatisfied with services rendered by a physician, technician, or nurse does not automatically give rise to a medical negligence claim. Similarly, a mistake made in the course of treatment doesn’t necessarily constitute medical malpractice, especially if the patient wasn’t hurt.

The strict standards that govern medical negligence cases usually require the expertise of a medical negligence lawyer for advice and guidance. He or she can explain the state-specific laws and what requirements must be met to prove medical negligence.

What is Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence claims can be made against any number of medical professionals:

  • Doctors
  • Physicians’ assistants
  • Nurses
  • Technicians

For a legitimate claim to exist, two main factors must be present:

  1. The medical professional did something or failed to do something AND
  2. The medical professional’s actions or failure to act resulted in an injury

An act or omission by a medical professional can happen at any time during the course of a person’s treatment from delivering a diagnosis to rendering follow-up care.

Examples of Medical Negligence

Extreme cases of medical malpractice often make it into the news, like when a doctor leaves a surgical instrument inside of a patient after surgery or a mix-up of charts leads to the wrong procedure being performed on a person.

Although these examples are shocking, medical negligence claims aren’t usually this extreme. The most common types of medical malpractice claims include:

Administered Improper Treatment

Medical professionals are held to a standard of care when treating patients. This means they must provide reasonable treatment and care expected of a professional in their field. Improper treatment can also result if a medical professional incompetently renders care to a patient.

Failed to Diagnosis a Patient

Patients can have a legitimate medical negligence claim if a doctor fails to make a diagnosis that another doctor would have made and, by making the diagnosis, would have led to a more favorable outcome in their treatment.

Failed to Warn of Known Risks

Specific courses of treatment or medications may be associated with certain risks. Medical professionals must warn patients of these known risks. This is called duty of informed consent.

Filing a Claim

Each state has different rules and requirements for filling a medical malpractice case. For example, the statute of limitations for filling a medical negligence claim ranges from six months to two years across the United States.

If your injury happened within your state’s allowable timeframe to file a claim, you may have to first go through a special medical malpractice review panel. This panel of experts will evaluate your claim and any associated evidence in order to determine whether or not a legitimate medical negligence claim exists.

A medical negligence lawyer will be able to explain your state-specific rules for filing a medical malpractice claim. He or she can gather the evidence needed to prove your case and help you navigate the often complicated process of filing a medical negligence claim.