Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer

What Qualifies as Medical Negligence?


Medical negligence is ordinarily defined as the improper or careless treatment of a patient by a healthcare provider, including a doctor, nurse, surgeon, or another medical professional. When an unjustifiable mistake results in harm, the injured patient has the right to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Personal injury claims arising from medical negligence are some of the most challenging cases our Baltimore personal injury attorneys handle. Because a patient’s outcome is never guaranteed, proving medical negligence is difficult. If you suffered an infection after surgery, it is not necessarily evidenced that your surgeon or another medical professional is guilty of medical malpractice.
At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, our attorneys and staff have decades of experience litigating and negotiating complicated medical malpractice claims. Our office has the resources and access to medical experts necessary to build an aggressive case against a negligent healthcare provider. To determine if you have a valid medical negligence case, call our law offices at (410) 694-7291.

Defining Negligence

Negligence is a common legal theory used to establish fault and liability in a personal injury lawsuit. Often thought of as “carelessness” or “recklessness,” legally, the concept of negligence encompasses much more.
To hold another party financially liable for your injuries or damages, you must demonstrate that their actions were more than careless. For example, in a car accident, you will attempt to prove that another motorist was to blame. If the accident occurred because another driver ignored a red light and rear-ended your vehicle, then it would seem obvious that they caused the accident. However, to hold them legally liable, our Baltimore personal injury attorneys would have to prove that their actions were negligent. To do this, the available evidence must prove four separate elements: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
Drivers in Maryland owe other motorists a duty to obey traffic regulations. Ignoring a red light is a violation of that duty. Your car was struck when the other driver drove through the red light. If you suffered any injuries, missed work, or your car was damaged, you suffered quantifiable damages. Therefore, the driver’s conduct was negligent.

When Medical Care is Negligent

Medical professionals, including physicians, surgeons, nurses, technicians, and other healthcare providers, owe a duty of care to their patients. Typically, this duty is described as providing a level of medical care that complies with the standard of care a skilled and reasonably competent medical professional with similar training would provide under comparable circumstances. When a medical professional deviates from the standard of care, their actions could constitute medical negligence and be grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

Types of Medical Negligence

The above definition might appear rather vague. To illustrate what type of conduct could be considered medical negligence, it is best to provide some examples.
A surgeon and the surgical team will take many precautionary steps before operating. Two basic protective measures are washing hands and ensuring all surgical instruments are properly sterilized. These actions are taken to prevent infection. If a surgeon fails to wash their hands or the instruments used during the procedure are not sterilized, the surgeon and the surgical team have deviated from the acceptable standard of medical practice.
Prescribing medication is often part of treating an illness or medical condition. After conducting a thorough examination, including a series of diagnostic tests, your doctor prescribes a regimen of medication to treat your condition. However, your doctor failed to consult your medical history and did not ask you if you were currently taking any other medication. As a result, the prescribed medication had a negative reaction when combined with the medicine you were already regularly taking. This failure to examine your medical history is medical negligence and could constitute medical malpractice.
Medical negligence is not limited to your treating physician. Radiologists conduct diagnostic tests at the request of doctors. If a radiologist misinterprets a result or fails to include an anomaly in their report, it could constitute medical negligence. However, this example illustrates the challenges facing our Harford County medical malpractice attorneys – when does a reasonable mistake become medical negligence?

Every Negative Outcome is Not Evidence of Medical Negligence

Not every negative outcome is medical negligence. Just because your doctor misdiagnosed your condition or you experienced negative complications after surgery does not prove you were the victim of medical negligence. As stated above, medical negligence occurs when a medical professional deviates from the acceptable level of medical care. If other doctors would have come up with the same diagnosis based on your symptoms and available test results, it is evidence that your doctor provided an acceptable level of care. Just because one or more doctors would have correctly diagnosed your condition is not proof that you were the victim of medical malpractice.
When trying to prove medical negligence, our Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers will turn to medical experts. A medical expert will offer their professional opinion explaining how your doctor’s conduct diverged from the acceptable level of medical care. For example, a medical expert might conclude that a reasonably skilled general practitioner would have ordered a specific series of tests given your symptoms. the test results would have confirmed your condition. To prevail in a medical negligence case, our office must show that a medical professional failed to provide the acceptable level of care, not just that the outcome was negative.

Our Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys Handle Complex Medical Negligence Cases

If you think you were the victim of medical negligence, you need our experienced Maryland medical malpractice attorneys. Proving that a medical professional’s error constituted medical negligence requires a team of dedicated and skilled attorneys. Rice, Murtha & Psoras brings decades of combined legal expertise to the table. To determine if your injuries resulted from medical negligence, call our law offices at (410) 694-7291.