Our Malpractice Lawyers are Helping Patients Understand, “What is Medical Malpractice?”
What is medical malpractice? It is easy to think that every time a doctor or nurse makes a mistake, it is malpractice. But, if that were true, we would likely have no doctors or health care providers to treat patients for any type of ailment. Who would become a doctor if every single error resulted in a lawsuit? No one.
For a medical malpractice claim to have support, several circumstances must always exist. They are:
- The medical provider must owe a duty of care to the patient
- The provider must breach that duty of care/act in a way that fails to meet the standard of care (negligence)
- The breach of duty must cause the patient to suffer harm
A medical provider can be any one of several health care professionals including; nurse, doctor, lab or medical equipment technician, and hospital administrator. The error that occurs during the course of care can by an active mistake or an error of omission. Either way, it must be one that deviates from the applicable standard of care relative to the particular situation. It must also cause actual harm to the patient.
What is Applicable The Standard of Care?
Medical negligence means that the doctor who is treating you departed from the customary standard of care that applies to a comparable professional in similar circumstances. Did the doctor or medical professional act in a way the average doctor with the same skill, education, and experience, in the same scenario, would have acted? The answer to this question is at the heart of most medical malpractice cases.
For example, you go to the doctor because you have a stomach ache. He sends you home after feeling your belly and telling you that you are fine. Forty-eight hours later, you get rushed to the hospital with a burst appendix that requires invasive surgery that could have been easier if your appendix was intact. You must stay in the hospital an extra two days because of an infection, and your complete recovery will now take weeks instead of days.
The analysis of a malpractice case would include the following inquiries: Did the doctor exercise the proper standard of care in this situation? Was it reasonable to send you home after the initial visit? Would another doctor in the same situation have performed an ultrasound to look at the appendix before releasing you? Would it be customary to do additional tests before sending you home? Was it negligent not to ask more questions?
If the doctor’s evaluation and the decision to send you home after your initial visit was considered to be a reasonable one and within the standard of care, there is no negligence and, therefore, no malpractice. However, if the doctor breached his duty by deviating from the reasonable standard of care, you may have the basis for a malpractice claim.
You Must Suffer Harm
A medical malpractice claim in New York also requires that the victim suffer harm as a direct result of the negligence/breach of duty. The act or omission of an act must cause a new injury, worsening of an existing ailment or death. You must prove that the injury would not have occurred but for the negligence. In the above example, you must demonstrate that the doctor was negligent in his treatment of you and that the post-surgical infection, hospital stay, pain, and suffering would not have occurred but for his negligence. This is not always easy to prove.
For example, your mother was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor after five years of going to the same doctor to treat headaches. The doctor tells her that she now has cancer that is so advanced that it cannot be treated. Your mother passes away six months later.
If the doctor was negligent and should have diagnosed the patient sooner, you must still prove that if the diagnosis was made earlier, she would have received treatment that could have cured her or helped her to live longer. If the doctor can prove that the timing of the diagnosis made no difference to the outcome, the malpractice claim won’t succeed.
Cases like this often involve extensive testimony from experts who can speak to topics such as survival odds, progression rates, the success of treatments, clinical trials, medical history and other factors that are very complex. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling medical malpractice claims and proving the connections between negligence and injuries.
What Can you Collect in a Successful Malpractice Claim?
If you can prove that medical negligence resulted in harm, you may be able to collect significant monetary damages, depending on the nature of the malpractice and the severity of your injuries. You might be eligible to receive compensation to cover:
- Loss of income
- Medical expenses
- Emotional distress
- Medical Equipment
- Medication costs
In some cases, punitive damages may be available if you can prove that the acts of the medical professional were extremely egregious.
New York Statutes of Limitations Apply – Act Now to Protect Your Legal Rights
New York, like all states, has a statute that limits the amount of time you have to file a malpractice claim. It is not possible to know how much time you have left without hearing the details of your situation. Speaking with the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Alonso Krangle, LLP right away can help you protect your legal right to collect compensation for malpractice.
Contact Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers to Find Out if You Have a Claim Against Your Doctor
Our malpractice lawyers are here to help determine if negligence caused you or your loved one to suffer needlessly. If someone was negligent, you might have the right to collect significant compensation for the injuries experienced. Call Alonso Krangle, LLP today for a free evaluation of your medical malpractice claim. Call 516-350-5555.