Legal Topics


Medical Malpractice

Any issues involving your doctor or your treatment at a hospital are going to take priority over any other concerns because it's your health and continued wellbeing on the line. In the legal field, these concerns and suits fall under the category of medical malpractice.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is any action or failure to act by a medical provider or professional that results in a serious injury to the patient.

There are 4 standards used to determine medical malpractice:

* An obligation owed to the patient

* A breach of duty or obligation to the patient

* An injury that resulted from said breach

* Damages that followed from the injury (i.e., chronic pain and suffering or economic hardship)

A legal standard for medical care has been in law since the time of ancient Rome, going back to the development of the Hippocratic Oath to "do no harm." It was passed down into European common law and eventually to American civil law.

Medical malpractice suits have only recently become a more common legal proceeding, beginning in the 1960s. While many claims of negligence are valid, the sheer volume of such claims has led to some healthcare providers pressing for reform of the tort law system, particularly in the US.

How to Report Medical Malpractice

To begin filing a medical malpractice claim or suit, you'll need to take the following steps.

1. Obtain the patient's medical records from the hospital, along with copies of medical bills, proof of out-of-pocket expenses, and any other documentation that will go toward supporting your case.

2. If the injury was sustained during a hospital stay, contact the hospital's risk management department. Be prepared to answer questions about when and how the injury took place. Record the time and other details when you contact the risk manager and see if an investigation into your claim will be following.

3. Contact a medical malpractice attorney for a consultation. Provide them with the abovementioned documentation and find out if you have a viable malpractice claim.

4. If your claim is deemed valid, proceed to the courthouse to fill out the necessary paperwork for filing a suit. The paperwork should be filled out in the presence of your lawyer.

5. Your lawyer should be prepared to send a notification or legal summons to the hospital or physician that your claim is against. Without this notification process, your suit could end up being dismissed. You may also have to pay for the summons depending on your state's regulations.

For more advice on medical malpractice, you can consult with a lawyer through such organizations as the American Bar Association and FindLaw.

Image by Contando Estrelas on Flickr

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