Ask a Medical Malpractice Lawyer: What Can Be Considered Malpractice?

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Doctors, nurses, dentists, surgeons, and other healthcare professionals are held to extremely high standards. However, in a fast-paced medical environment, accidents can and do happen, sometimes resulting in medical malpractice. However, it can be difficult for patients to determine if their situation is considered medical malpractice without hiring a medical malpractice lawyer. In this guide, you’ll learn how to determine what counts as medical malpractice under the law and how to approach these situations.


Why Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical situations and incidents of negligence by healthcare professionals can be varied and nuanced, and patients may be far too preoccupied with medical bills and recovery to handle any negligence issues themselves. Most patients also have little to no experience with medical malpractice law and may struggle to determine whether or not they have suffered from the effects of medical malpractice.


In such situations, the patient should hire a medical malpractice lawyer in Kansas City to see what options are available to them. Medical malpractice attorneys sit down with the affected patient to gain a detailed understanding of the incident in question. From there, these professionals have the skills and experience to isolate each incident of medical malpractice and how the patient can best go about receiving maximum compensation.


What Can Be Considered Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is when a healthcare professional fails to care for their patient at a level that is acceptable in the medical field. Professionals such as doctors, nurses, dentists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, radiologists, and more can all be held accountable for medical malpractice. Incidents of medical malpractice include a wide array of negligent behavior that has been exhibited by healthcare professionals either in a single incident or over some time.


Determining whether or not something is considered medical malpractice is based on four primary factors. All of these elements must be met in a given situation for it to be considered medical malpractice:


The Medical Professional Owed the Injured Individual a Duty

The first factor that determines whether or not an incident is considered medical malpractice is whether or not the patient was owed a duty of care by the medical professional in question. For a duty to be owed, the offending medical professional must have a formal doctor-patient relationship with the injured party.


If a patient was to ask a nearby medical professional with whom they do not have a formal doctor-patient relationship for advice and the medical professional’s input was ill-suited to the patient’s needs and resulted in an injury, it does form a legal duty to care for the patient and would not be considered malpractice because there is no formal and legally established doctor-patient relationship.


The Medical Professional Has Breached Their Duty

If a doctor-patient relationship has been established, it must next be proven that the offending medical professional has breached their duty to the patient, whether through negligence or intent. However, such situations can be quite nuanced. For example, if a doctor gives a misdiagnosis of disease due to the presence of a symptom that closely mimics that of another disease, it is likely not a medical malpractice case as long as the doctor was following accepted medical procedures.


However, if it was a more obvious misdiagnosis, if the doctor misreads or ignores laboratory results, or if the doctor fails to perform an act that is generally considered common practice and would have helped the diagnosis, then they have breached their duty as a caretaker through negligence and there is much more ground for a medical malpractice case.


The Breach of Duty Was a Direct Cause of Injury

After a breach of duty has been confirmed, it must next be determined whether or not that breach of duty was the direct cause of any injuries. Like a breach of duty, these situations can be quite nuanced. If a medical professional prescribes an excessive dosage of medication which results in the patient suffering from disorientation and then the patient becomes injured after choosing to drive a car while cognitively impaired, the injury would be due to the decision to drive, not the overdose.


In such a case, the medical professional would not be liable for the injury. However, if the inappropriate dosage directly caused the patient to go into cardiac arrest or to suddenly pass out and injure themselves while falling, there is potential for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The Injury Caused Damages

After determining that the breach of duty was a direct cause of injury, it must be determined that the injury has caused physical, mental, emotional, or fiduciary damages to become an incident of medical malpractice. Generally, it’s safe to say that most injuries cause damage. However, while small injuries may be instances of medical malpractice, that doesn’t mean that the damage is enough to produce an effective medical malpractice case.


For a medical malpractice case to be viable, the cost of pursuing the case must be less than the estimated compensation. For that reason, the injury must be significant enough to result in medical bills, lost work, or other issues that demand compensation.


As you can see, medical malpractice victims must consider many things before moving forward with their cases. Fortunately, with this information, these victims can get the compensation that they deserve!