Medical Malpractice is a fancy phrase used within the legal profession
to say that a medical professional has committed negligence. And, essentially,
that is all medical malpractice is – negligence. So when a doctor
owes a duty to a patient, and then breaches that duty to the extent that
the patient is caused injury and damages, the patient can sue the offending
doctor for damages.
The experience acquired by our
Kingston, New York medical malpractice attorneys allows for the topic to be easily broken down so that the average person
can understand what medical malpractice is, when medical negligence occurs,
and when compensation is due.
Let us give you a more detailed overview of medical malpractice. There
are a handful of conditions that must be met if an injured patient expects
to receive compensation. What are they?
First, there must be a doctor patient relationship. This is easy to understand.
For example, the patient found a lump on her breast, so she calls a doctor’s
office to schedule an examination. She indeed ends up meeting with the
doctor. At that point it would be hard pressed to say that a doctor patient
relationship has not been formed. Once such is formed, the doctor has
an obligation – a duty – that is owed to the patient.
That duty is to treat the patient in accordance with the standards of the
medical profession. There are a few nuances here. The standard varies
between geographic regions. So the standard of care in Louisville, New
York might be different than that which is required in Kingston, New York.
Also, the standard varies from medical specialty to medical specialty.
Finally, the alleged wrongdoing must relate to the treatment provided
to the patient. Meaning, if the patient complains that the doctor failed
to diagnose a foot injury but the doctor only saw the patient in relation
to a breast exam, the doctor might not be liable for the patient’s harm.
Recap – there is a doctor patient relationship and a duty of care.
Next, if a case of medical malpractice is to be claimed, the offending
doctor must have deviated from the duty of care. He or she must have done
something so wrong that another doctor in the same/similar circumstances
would not have made such a mistake.
The mistake made by the doctor (or nurse, assistant, dentist, podiatrist,
anesthesiologist, etc.) must be what caused the injury complained of by
the patient. Let us continue with the example above – a female patient
sees a doctor because the patient found a lump on her breast. She sees
the doctor, but the doctor did not do everything that should have been
done in a proper clinical breast exam. The patient was told she did not
have any signs of breast cancer. Unfortunately, the patient did have breast
cancer. Since it was not discovered in time, she had to have a mastectomy
– her breast was surgically removed.
Here it can be said that the doctor’s mistake caused the patient’s
cancer to progress and the patient’s need to have a mastectomy.
The mistake is a failure to diagnose breast cancer. The injury is cancer
progression and the loss of a breast.
Since there is an injury, the patient can make a claim for damages. “Damages”
is a legal term describing what the patient lost because of the doctor’s
mistake. It includes pain and suffering. In our example, damages can be
the cost of continued medical care that would not have been needed had
the doctor timely diagnosed the patient. Let us say that the patient was
a model; she lost wages during her illness and she can no longer work
as a model because of the mastectomy. Her lost wages, lost earning potential,
and any education and or training she needs to start a new career are
In closing please understand that this is a very general discussion and
medical malpractice is complex. Moreover, the injured patient must commence
suit before the law says it is too late.