If you are like many people, you may think that any time your doctor's actions cause you pain or suffering that you can sue him for medical malpractice. This isn't entirely true. Your doctor's actions, or acts of omission, must meet certain requirements before you can recover monetary compensation for your claimed injury. If you have suffered from pain or injuries due to your doctor's care and are considering filing a case against him, there are some things you need to know.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical Malpractice occurs when a medical professional demonstrates negligence (or an act of omission) and provides substandard care that results in harm to the patient. Both negligence and substandard care must be proved and there must be harm to the patient. In other words, if your doctor provides substandard care but it does not result in harm or injury to you, you cannot file a medical malpractice case against him. Likewise, if you experience an injury or are harmed by your doctor's care, you do not automatically have a case, unless you can prove he was negligent and that negligence caused the harm.
What Is Medical Negligence?
The rules governing medical negligence vary according to states and locations, but as a general rule medical negligence means your medical professional knew, or should have known, that his actions (or lack of action) would cause harm to you. However, this only applies if he also provided substandard care. That means your doctor might have known that the action would cause some harm, but because it is an acceptable method of care in the specific location or institution, the care was considered standard care. A doctor is not obligated to provide the highest standard of care possible but must provide care that meets the medical standard of care at the institution or in your region.
What Is an Act of Omission?
An act of omission is a form of medical negligence. It means your doctor failed to do something he should have done. This can apply to failing to recognize and diagnose a medical condition, failure to provide appropriate medical treatment, or the failure to perform adequate aftercare. With an act of omission, the harm is caused by something your doctor failed to do.
What Is Substandard Medical Care?
To understand substandard care, you must first understand what standard medical care means. In the context of a malpractice case, a doctor is obligated to provide the quality of care that any competent doctor would provide to a patient in similar circumstances. Providing care that is of lower quality is considered substandard care. But, the quality of care that meets the requirements of standard care varies depending on the circumstances. For example, a doctor practicing in a small rural clinic may not have access to the sophisticated tests or treatment options that a doctor in a large urban hospital has at his disposal. The standard quality of care in the rural clinic may be lower than the quality of care in the larger hospital; therefore, the doctor must be held to the standard of care for the institution and region where he works.
What Do You Do If You Think You Have a Case?
If you have suffered pain or injury from the actions of your doctor and you think the above conditions apply to your case, contact a medical malpractice attorney right away. Most provide a free consultation to determine if your situation warrants filing a medical malpractice claim. He has the experience and expertise to navigate the court system and communicate with related parties. He can guide you in acquiring the appropriate documentation to support your case and represent you in court.
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