What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice refers to a healthcare professional’s failure to provide the care and exercise the skill that other healthcare professionals in a similar practice would exercise in similar situations. Medical malpractice law can hold medical professionals accountable when they fail to adhere to appropriate standards of care. This failure to provide appropriate standards of care can apply to general practitioners and specialists alike, to nurses and therapists, and to nearly any other healthcare provider or facility.
A September 2017 survey by the National Patient Safety Association (NPSA) reports that most patients consider their experiences within the U.S. healthcare system to be positive, but that 21 percent of adults believe they’ve experienced a medical error. The survey also found that when medical errors do occur, the effects are often long-lasting and can impinge on the affected patient’s physical and emotional health, financial well-being, and family relationships. This survey, in effect, confirms that medical malpractice is too common, and that its impact can be overwhelming.
Medical Malpractice Injuries
While every medical malpractice claim is unique, several injuries and errors are commonly associated with medical malpractice:
- Birth injuries
- Surgical errors
- Medication errors
- Emergency room mistakes
- Misdiagnosis of or failure to diagnose conditions
- Failure to properly treat conditions
- Post-surgical infections
Any of these can lead to serious physical and emotional complications for the patient. When you’re facing a significant medical procedures or treatments, you’re especially vulnerable. When, during those procedures or treatments, you become the victim of medical malpractice, it can lead to devastating consequences.
When Doctors Are Negligent
Medical malpractice claims are based on the legal theory of negligence, which is the failure to exercise adequate care toward another that a reasonable or prudent person would exercise in a similar situation. In the case of medical malpractice, this negligence can involve an act or an omission.
To reach the level of medical malpractice, this diversion from the accepted standard of medical care must be shown to be the direct cause of the harm suffered by the patient. To prevail in a medical malpractice claim, in other words, you—as the injured patient—must be able to demonstrate four distinct elements:
- You were owed a duty of care by the doctor.
- The doctor breached this duty of care owed to you.
- The doctor’s breach directly caused you harm.
- As a result, you suffered a measurable injury that required verifiable medical treatment and resulted in expenses.
Medical Malpractice and Expert Witnesses
To substantiate your medical malpractice claim, an expert witness generally must testify that the act constituted malpractice. Under Maryland law, expert witnesses must have:
- Clinical experience in the medical subject of your malpractice claim
- Provided medical consultation related to that clinical experience
- Taught—within five years of the alleged malpractice—in the medical field in which the defendant specializes, in a related medical field, or in the field in which the defendant treated you as a patient
In some cases, the expert witness must be board certified in the medical area of relevance. A law firm that regularly handles medical malpractice cases will have access to knowledgeable and qualified experts who can help prove your claim.
In Maryland—like other states—a formal process must be followed before bringing a claim against a health care provider, and this includes participating in a mandatory arbitration process before formally filing in court. This means that you must first submit your claim to the Maryland Health Claims Arbitration Office with a certificate of merit (verifying the veracity of your claim) by a qualified medical expert (as referenced above). This process verifies that the health care provider you’re suing breached accepted healthcare standards and that this breach caused you injury, pain, and suffering. Our attorneys can guide you through every step of this process to protect your rights.
Your Medical Malpractice Claim
Medical malpractice claims are legally complicated. One of the most difficult barriers to overcome in any medical malpractice case is that every patient accepts some degree of risk in receiving medical treatment. While medical science continues to make incredible advancements, human error can never be eradicated. As a patient, you accept risk, but if a healthcare provider departs from the established standards of care while treating you, you can hold that medical professional accountable in a medical malpractice claim.
Discuss Your Options With a Baltimore Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you or someone you care about has been injured by medical malpractice, you know just how harrowing that can be. You sought medical care to restore your health and ended up enduring greater injury. The impact of medical malpractice can be physically, emotionally, and financially devastating—and you deserve just compensation.
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we have the experience, skill, and dedication to pursue your medical malpractice claims with focused precision. Our knowledgeable Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers are here to help. Your health and your rights matter, and we’ll fight to guide your claim toward its best possible outcome. If you’ve been harmed by medical malpractice, please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at (410) 694-7291 for a consultation today.