What Constitutes Medical Malpractice: What You Should Know

Updated on February 14, 2022
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice: What You Should Know

Medical malpractice is a scary term. It conjures images of doctors performing terrible procedures or negligently prescribing the wrong medication. But what, exactly, constitutes medical malpractice? And more importantly, what should you do if you think you might have been a victim? In this post, we’ll break down what you should know about medical malpractice—perhaps you, or someone you care about, may have been a victim.

Medical Malpractice Explained

Medical malpractice is a legal term used to describe any act or omission by a health care professional that results in harm to a patient. This can include everything from surgical mistakes to prescription errors. They’re not limited to doctors, either. Nurses, pharmacists, and other medical professionals can be guilty of malpractice as well.

Just because something went wrong during your surgery, though, doesn’t mean you automatically have a case against the hospital. To prove that malpractice occurred, you must be able to show that the health care professional involved failed to meet the accepted standard of care for their profession. This can be tricky. Standards of care vary depending on where you live and can even change from hospital to hospital.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

Not every unfortunate medical outcome is considered malpractice. To win a malpractice case, you must be able to prove that the health care professional’s negligence caused you harm. Some things that might constitute medical malpractice include:

Prescription Errors

Prescription errors are among the most common types of medical malpractice. This can mean anything from prescribing the wrong medication to giving you incorrect instructions on how to take it. Prescription errors can also include refilling a prescription too early or not checking for potential drug interactions with other medications you’re taking.

Misdiagnosis and Delays in Diagnosis

Misdiagnosis is also unfortunately common. This can include failing to diagnose a serious condition, misdiagnosing a non-serious condition as serious, or diagnosing the wrong illness altogether. Delays in diagnosis can also be grounds for a malpractice suit, as can incorrect treatment based on this misdiagnosis.

Surgical Errors

Surgery is a high-risk procedure, and mistakes can happen. Some common surgical errors include performing the wrong surgery, leaving medical instruments inside the patient’s body, and operating on the wrong body part.

Birth Injuries

If your baby is injured during birth, it may be the result of medical malpractice. Birth injuries can include injuries to the baby’s head and brain and damage to the umbilical cord or placenta.

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia errors can be very dangerous and even deadly. Some common anesthesia errors include giving the patient too much or too little anesthetic, not monitoring them closely enough during surgery, and not reversing the anesthetic properly when surgery is finished.

If You’ve Been Injured by Medical Malpractice…

If you suspect that you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, there are steps you can take.

First, document everything. If possible, get copies of all your medical records and write down any details about the procedure or surgery in question.

Next, consider hiring an attorney with experience handling medical malpractice cases. Remember, you only have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit, so don’t wait too long. Look up the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in your state. Those statues are usually somewhere between one and four years.

No one should have to settle for getting the wrong type of treatment or being given the wrong medication. If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, contact an attorney with experience handling these types of cases. Their legal advice can help you understand your next steps to protect yourself and your family, along with other essential pointers on what you should know about medical malpractice.