What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical Malpractice Law determines standards doctors must follow when caring for their patients. Like any professional, doctors must perform their jobs to the best of their abilities. Unlike other professionals, when doctors make mistakes or do not perform to standards, the outcomes can ruin their patient’s lives. Some patients who were injured by their doctor choose to sue their doctors to pay for the extra medical costs and lost wages.

Medical Malpractice is a popular area of law, but it actually is considered a part of Accidents and Injuries law. Many accident and injuries cases, including medical malpractice cases, claim that one party was “negligent” in their practices. For medical malpractice cases, this means that the patient has to prove the doctors are generally have a duty to practice medicine a certain way, that the doctor did not fulfill (or “breached”) his duty, and that the breach of duty caused the patient harm.

Terms to Know

  • Informed Consent: Before a doctor can treat a patient, the doctor must explain to the patient the nature of the treatment, along with its risks and benefits, and then the patient must agree to the treatment.
  • Error in Diagnosis: A doctor makes an error in diagnosis when the doctor does not accurately name the patient’s disease.
  • Error in Treatment: A doctor makes an error in treatment when the doctor does not prescribe the correct drugs or therapy.
  • Vicarious Liability: When a doctor makes a mistake, patients often sue the doctor’s supervisors or the hospital under a legal theory known as vicarious liability.
  • HIPAA: The “Health Information Portability and Accountability Act” mandates that medical providers keep patients’ records confidential.
  • Statute of Limitations: Like many personal injury suits, there is a time limit in which patients must bring suit against their doctors. If the time limit passes, the opportunity for suit is gone.