Medical Malpractice In-Depth

Most of the time, excellent treatment of illness or injury can be the result of hiring a physician with some years of relevant experience. In spite of this, even experienced medical professionals can still commit mistakes, and that you are not totally free from having injury when you hire an experienced physician. Medical malpractice occurs when a negligent act or omission by a doctor or other medical professional results in damage or harm to a patient.

Negligence by a medical professional can be committed in various ways such as error in diagnosis, treatment, or illness management. If such negligence results in injury to a patient, a legal case for medical malpractice can arise against:

  • The doctor, if his or her actions deviated from generally accepted standards of practice;
  • The hospital for improper care or inadequate training, such as problems with medications or sanitation;
  • Local, state or federal agencies that operate hospital facilities.

Because of the state’s duty to protect its people, there have been laws promulgated in order to penalize the physicians for their acts of negligence. However, malpractice suits are often complex and costly to win. Thus, if you think that you have a claim for malpractice, you can always try having consultation with your lawyer in order to make sure that your rights are protected.

Legislation Affecting Malpractice Actions

The legislations have been passed in such a way that it will be very difficult to win in them. In most states today, physicians and hospitals are protected by legal limits, called “caps,” on the amount of damages and attorneys’ fees that can be awarded in malpractice suits. There is also a short prescription for the filing of cases. Most of them would have to be filed within 2-3 years.

Most of the time, the people who have lawful claims need to have the certificate of merit to be able to sue for their claims. In order to file a certificate of merit, a plaintiff will first have to have an expert, usually another physician, review the relevant medical records and certify that the plaintiff’s health care provider deviated from accepted medical practices, which resulted in injury to the plaintiff. After this, the lawyer will have to file the certificate of merit which is also an indication that expert witnesses have been consulted and based on such consultation, the patient indeed has  a legal claim.

“Respondeat Superior” and Independent Contractors

There is also a concept called “respondeat superior” where the malpractice Under this theory, an employer may be held liable for the negligent acts of its employee if the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment when the negligence occurred. This doctrine is characterized as great doctrine because the liability of employees here may be shouldered by the employer which gives more probability of getting the claimed damages.

In some situations, commonly involving attending physicians working in hospitals, health care providers are considered independent contractors rather than employees, which makes the doctrine of “respondeat superior” inapplicable. This is the exception to the rule that a hospital may be held liable for the negligence of a medical professional that it employs. However, the hospital can be held liable for its own negligence, for example, in granting attending privileges to an unlicensed or incompetent physician.

Getting Legal Help in a Medical Malpractice Case

The general rule, but also subject to exceptions, is that the medical professional is subject to medical malpractice cases. An unanticipated or unsuccessful result from medical treatment or surgery does not, in itself, mean that medical malpractice has been committed. Nonetheless, if you believe you may have been the victim of medical malpractice, you should meet with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to discuss the facts of your case and receive a professional evaluation of your situation, especially in light of time limits for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

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