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What Is Considered Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is also known as negligence and typically involves a medical error. This error might be in a diagnosis, how much medication is given, improper treatment, or poor aftercare.

If a medical professional gives substandard treatment to a patient that causes harm, injury, or death to a patient, it is considered medical malpractice. Despite this, there are medical malpractice laws in place. This makes it possible for those affected by medical malpractice to obtain compensation.

Hospitals, doctors, and other health care professionals are expected to provide a certain standard of care. If this care is not met, and harm or injury occurs because of a mistake in care, a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed.

Factors Required to File a Malpractice Suit

There are a few factors that are required to be present when filing a malpractice suit:

  1. Failure to provide a proper standard of care — The law states that all healthcare professionals must work with specific standards or it can be considered negligence.
  2. Injury due to negligence — Even if a healthcare professional was acting with negligence, if it does not result in injury then there is no claim. In order to file a negligence claim, they must prove that the injury or harm would not have happened had they not done so.
  3. Injury must have consequences — In order for the suit to be filed, the patient must show that the injury or harm caused by negligence created considerable damage.

Considerable damage includes:

  • Suffering
  • Hardship
  • Large amounts of pain
  • Huge loss of income
  • Disability

Types of Malpractice

  • Improper or misdiagnosis
  • Failure to diagnose
  • Incorrect surgery
  • Unnecessary surgery
  • Premature discharge
  • Failure to order appropriate tests
  • Failure to act on results of a test
  • Not following up
  • Prescribing the wrong dosage of medication
  • Prescribing the wrong medication
  • Leaving foreign instruments inside a patient’s body
  • Operating on the wrong part of the body
  • Persistent pain after surgery
  • Fatal infections acquired in the hospital
  • Bedsores

Incidents such as hospital fires, or patients committing suicide while under a physician’s care can also be considered malpractice.

Informed Consent

Informed consent is a form of necessary consent that must be given by a patient to a doctor or health care provider. This means that a patient must state that they understand the risks of the procedure, and will not sue if something does not go according to plan. Even if the operation was done perfectly, the patient needs to know the risks ahead of time to make an informed decision based on risk and reward.  If there is no informed consent obtained, and the procedure results in harm or injury, it is medical malpractice.

Results of a Medical Malpractice Suit

In the event of a medical malpractice suit, the plaintiff may be awarded either compensatory and punitive damages.

  • Compensatory damages — Includes economic damages such as lost wages, medical expenses, and life care expenses. May also include psychological and physical harm, extreme pain, and emotional distress.
  • Punitive damages — Only awarded when the medical professional is found guilty of malicious or purposeful misconduct. This is typically additional compensation on top of other damages.

If you believe you might be a victim of medical malpractice, contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney Denver to find out your options.

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