Medical Malpractice: Background

Whenever there is negligence committed by a medical professional, this instance can be called medical malpractice. Accidents happen in hospitals and in the practice of medicine in general, some of which are preventable. The patient can always sue for damages when a physician makes an error which could have been easily prevented if done with proper care.

Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim

For negligence to be tagged as an actionable wrong (having all the components necessary to constitute a viable cause of action — and thus a legitimate lawsuit), the following elements must exist:

  • There must be a duty owed to someone
  • There must be a breach of that duty
  • The breach of that duty must result in harm or damage that is proximately caused by that breach

The simplest way to apply the concept of proximate cause to medical malpractice is to ask whether, “but for” the alleged negligence, the harm or injury would have occurred. If the injury still would have occurred regardless of the alleged act of malpractice, then there is no valid claim.

What is a “Reasonably Prudent” Physician?

Most of the time, the standard used would be that of the reasonably prudent man. Conversely, when determining whether a medical professional has been negligent, his or her practice or conduct is judged at a level of competency and professionalism consistent with the specialized training, experience, and care of a “reasonably prudent” physician in the same or similar circumstances. However, because doctors and physicians are trained, they are expected to give out something more than what a layman can do. Medical malpractice is breach in the duty of the doctor to always do what is best for the patient.

Who is Considered a Medical Professional?

In the medical jargon, a patient is that person who receives medical treatment or under medical care. In many states, other licensed medical professionals such as chiropractors, nurses, therapists, and psychologists, may also be sued for malpractice, i.e., negligently breaching their respective professional duties owed to the patient. There are a lot of articles available online pertaining to medical malpractice and how the details are important to both the patients and physicians.

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