Although you can usually trust that doctors and nurses are competent, well-trained and act in your best interests, this isn’t always the case. Here’s what you need to know about medical malpractice and what you can do if you believe you or a loved one has been a victim of unfair treatment.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
As a medical malpractice lawyer from a specialist like Hall Justice Law Firm can explain, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional causes injury to a patient by failing to provide the appropriate standard of care. This can include either negligence or recklessness. Medical negligence is defined as a healthcare professional providing substandard treatment for a patient, such as:
- Failing to diagnose a condition
- Making surgical or anesthesia errors
- Misinterpreting laboratory results
- Discharging prematurely
- Administering improper medication or dosage
Although recklessness is rarer, it can occur in the medical world. Recklessness can include a doctor performing surgery while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or administering lethal levels of medication to a patient. For example, Dr. Conrad Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for inappropriately administering anesthesia to Michael Jackson, which eventually resulted in Jackson’s death.
What Doesn’t Count as Medical Malpractice?
It’s important to keep in mind that there are some circumstances that won’t amount to a medical malpractice lawsuit. For example, if the patient’s condition became worse throughout treatment, this isn’t necessarily because of medical malpractice. Doctors aren’t able to cure or even treat all diseases, and even if they are, there’s no guarantee that the patient will respond to the treatment. If it can be shown that the doctor acted with care and competence, medical malpractice can’t be said to have occurred.
In addition, a doctor can’t be said to have committed medical malpractice if a patient’s condition is untreatable or terminal. Medical malpractice laws are in place to protect patients who have been given sub-standard levels of care, not to provide a solution for terminal illnesses.
Is There a Statute of Limitations?
Depending on which state you live in, there will be a different limit on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. Be sure to check your state’s laws, as you won’t be able to receive compensation if you wait too long. Typically, the clock starts running when you discover that you’ve been harmed.
If you believe you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice, take action. Contact a medical malpractice lawyer today to help you file your claim.