Every year, medical malpractice claims over 250,000 lives a year on average. That’s 700 deaths every hour. But you may not even know what malpractice is.
So what is malpractice, and what can be done about it?
What is Malpractice?
Malpractice is a legal term for when a medical professional fails to meet proper standards of care in such a way that causes harm to his or her patient.
Obviously, that definition allows for a lot of potential question marks, so it can be difficult for the average person to know exactly what counts as malpractice and what doesn’t. In general, however, four things must occur in order for an incident to be considered medical malpractice in the eyes of the law.
Basics of Malpractice
First, the healthcare provider must have committed negligence. Negligence is another legal term, which describes an action or omission which violates basic standards of care.
This can mean anything from misdiagnosing a patient to performing surgery incorrectly. Upholding standards of care simply means delivering the same diligence and attention to detail that could reasonably be expected from any other healthcare provider with the same qualifications.
Second, this negligence must have resulted, either directly or indirectly, in an injury to the patient. If the healthcare provider breached the standards of care but no one was harmed as a result, it’s still considered negligence, but it doesn’t meet the legal qualifications for a malpractice case.
Third, the patient’s injury must be significant. The exact meaning of the word “significant” is generally left up to the courts. However, the impact on the patient should be greater than slight discomfort or inconvenience.
Finally, the causal relationship between the negligent act and the injury must be provable in court. If the injury happened due to something other than negligence, or if there isn’t a sufficient link between the two, it won’t count as evidence of malpractice.
While it’s only imperative that the claimant suffers a provable injury as a result of malpractice, he or she may also suffer a variety of other damages, including disability, current and future, emotional trauma, and a broken sense of trust in the healthcare industry, all of which can be detrimental to the patient’s quality of life.
Dealing With Malpractice
As we’ve already established, malpractice is a term with complex legal implications. As such, one can take legal steps to address resulting damages with the help of a malpractice lawyer.
It’s certainly a viable option. Ninety-five percent of malpractice suits are settled out of court. The average settlement pays out at around $350,000. If the claimant proceeds to court and wins the case, the average payout sits at over $1 million.
Malpractice is More Common Than You Think
So, what is malpractice? Get this: it’s one of the leading causes of death in the United States, right behind heart disease and cancer. We put our faith in the idea that our medical professionals will go to great lengths to assure health and safety. Sometimes, they just don’t.
Still, these are just the basics of malpractice. If you or a loved one may have been a victim of medical malpractice, you should get in touch with a malpractice lawyer to learn more.
Learn More About Your Legal Rights
If you’re looking into filing a malpractice suit, it’s a good idea to check out some of our other posts in the Law category so you can get a better sense of what to expect during each step of the process and be as ready as possible for your day in court.