What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is an area of law that deals with professional negligence in the medical sphere. It may apply to doctors, nurses, surgeons, hospital staff/administrators, pharmacists, and/or medical device manufacturers.

Medical malpractice covers any action (or inaction) by medical personnel during treatment that deviates from accepted norms and safety standards, which then causes injury to a patient.

We here at the offices of Pierce Skrabanek have years of experience in medical malpractice and medical device injury cases. We have compiled the following information to provide a basic introduction to what qualifies as medical malpractice, and the steps you can take to protect yourself.

A female patient sits on her hospital bed and thinks about her legal options.

What Is Considered Medical Malpractice?

Malpractice is defined as a harmful act or omission committed when a professional fails to properly execute their duty to a client. Malpractice suits may be brought against doctors, lawyers, or clergy personnel who fail, cheat, or mislead those who engage their services.

In a healthcare context, examples of medical malpractice include:

  • Anesthesia errors: Too much anesthesia which risks brain damage, too little anesthesia which risks waking during the procedure, or improper monitoring of the effects of anesthesia.
  • Birth injuries: Harm caused by extraction tools like forceps, or by delays in care like taking too long to perform an emergency C-section.
  • Misdiagnosis: Delayed, improper, or failed instances of diagnosis can lead to worsening injury or death, such as with overlooked or unrecognized cancer.
  • Medication errors: Mistakes in prescribing, fulfilling, or administering medications — depending on who is responsible for the error, this could be a matter of physician, pharmaceutical, or hospital malpractice.
  • Unlicensed practice: These instances involve those whose training has lapsed and no longer meets up-to-date standards, or for those impersonating medical professionals without proper credentials.
  • Informed consent failures: Performing procedures or administering medicine a patient did not properly understand, want, or consent to receive.
  • Surgical errors: Performing an incorrect surgery, operating on the wrong body part, operating under the influence, or making mistakes before/during/after a procedure could all be considered medical malpractice.
  • Abuse: Certain elderly patients, those with severe cognitive disorders, and those in comas may be vulnerable to abuse or neglect by bad actors in healthcare.

Each of these requires different standards of proof to bring before the law, and a deep understanding of medical procedures, responsibility, and legal precedence. These are all aspects important to personal injury law.

Personal injury lawyers are attorneys who work on cases involving injuries against persons, including patients who are injured due to medical malpractice. The attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek have extensive experience winning successful personal injury verdicts and settlements, and we bring that knowledge to the unique needs of every medical malpractice case we handle. Call us at (832) 690-7000 to discuss your specific circumstances.

Pierce Skrabanek are personal injury attorneys, meaning we represent clients who’ve suffered injuries against their person, including patients injured due to medical malpractice. Call us at (832) 583-1783 for a free and confidential consultation.

What Is Medical Malpractice Negligence?

Negligence has a very specific legal definition. “Negligence” is defined as “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.” Like malpractice, negligence can be due to action or to inaction. For example:

  • Negligent action: A negligent act could mean carelessly tossing a burning match into a dry forest, when it’s common knowledge that this could start a fire.
  • Negligent inaction: A negligent lack of action could be failing to stop and help someone you’ve hit with your car.

When used in connection with medical malpractice, the definition of “negligence” is even more particular. To prove negligence, the first task a lawyer must accomplish is to show that “a duty of care” was owed to the injured party. Many healthcare workers swear to uphold ethical standards, including an oath to “do no harm,” making their responsibility relatively clear.

The next legal step entails showing a breach of care. Then an attorney must argue that the breach led to patient injury. Lastly, a medical malpractice lawyer must explain what the injury cost their client in money, time, pain, and suffering.

A strong case may then lead to a successful verdict or settlement for the injured person, or for their family in cases of wrongful death.

Medical Malpractice: What Is Negligence vs. Recklessness

What defines medical malpractice vs. medical negligence is very little, since most malpractice suits are formed on the basis of negligence. Essentially: your doctor owed you better care, but they failed.

The greater difference in malpractice cases is between negligence and recklessness:

  • Medical negligence: An unintentional act of carelessness, like leaving a surgical sponge inside a patient, could lead to injury and may be considered negligence.
  • Medical recklessness: This is a more serious violation than negligence, and the consequences may be more severe. For example, a surgeon who knows he or she is drunk or hungover before operating may be considered “reckless” under the law. A doctor who discharges a patient who needs care because they can’t pay may be held to higher punitive (aka “punishment”) damages. Someone who sexually assaults an unconscious patient may be liable for malpractice as well as criminal charges.

If you have questions about whether your experience could be considered medical malpractice, call Pierce Skrabanek at (832) 690-7000. We offer free, discreet case consultations, and are ready to answer your questions with patience and respect.

How Can a Medical Malpractice Settlement Help Me? Help Others?

A settlement or verdict in your favor could mean financial support for you and your family, and also a better prognosis for future patients.

Successful legal results could include:

  • Economic support: This could entail compensation for medical bills, for time spent recovering instead of advancing your career, and for the pain and suffering caused by the harm you’ve endured.
  • Non-economic outcomes: Cases brought against doctors, surgeons, nurses, and/or hospitals that have displayed negligence may help future patients. Settlements and damages verdicts could lead to better practices, delicensing, and even serious punishment for wrongdoers who may be brought to light by your case.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, an analysis of data on paid medical malpractice claims shows that approximately 1% of all the physicians sued accounted for 32% of paid claims. These numbers suggest that it’s a small percentage of doctors who are possible ‘repeat offenders.’ This is part of why pursuing a medical malpractice suit is so important — such data trends could help identify and remove incompetent medical personnel before larger numbers of patients are hurt.

Contact Pierce Skrabanek for Medical Malpractice Aid

Pierce Skrabanek has a proven history of successful verdicts and settlements due to our advocacy. While we act first and foremost on behalf of our clients, we also carry a long-term determination to see industry improvements, so that preventable injuries never happen in the first place.

Contact the dedicated medical malpractice lawyers at Pierce Skrabanek at (832) 690-7000, or fill out our online contact form at your earliest convenience for a free and confidential consultation. If you’ve suffered harm from someone who was supposed to be your healer, Pierce Skrabanek is here to help you seek justice.

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