When Do A Doctor's Failures Become Malpractice?

Medical malpractice attorneys have to look at cases and consider when a doctor's actions, decisions, and failures constitute wrongdoing. If you're thinking about pursuing a claim against a doctor or medical facility, you should understand what makes a practitioner's choices a form of malpractice. You and a lawyer can look at how the following factors will affect the possible outcome of a case.

Standard of Care

In every profession, there is some understanding of what people should or shouldn't do if they're good at their jobs. Doctors and other medical professionals are no different. When the medical and legal worlds collide in malpractice cases, this expectation of how a practitioner ought to do their job is called the standard of care.

The standard of care extends to any decision a similarly situated practitioner would either endorse or at least accept. If a surgeon used an outdated technique, for example, it might not violate the standard of care. A reasonable surgeon might disagree with the choice without objecting to it entirely. Generally, a practitioner's decision only violates the standard of care if another qualified professional would have stepped in to stop what was happening.

Proving a Violation

Typically, medical malpractice attorneys work with expert witnesses to establish whether a practitioner might have violated the standard of care. A lawyer might present X-rays, scans, lab work-ups, reports, and witnesses statements to an expert. The expert will review the evidence and provide an unbiased opinion about what happened.

Oftentimes, negligence is the core theme of this kind of case. Suppose a doctor left a surgical instrument inside a patient's body cavity. It is negligent for a doctor to not make sure they've recovered any instruments before stitching someone up. Consequently, the negligent actions probably violate the standard of care and the victim likely has a strong malpractice case.

Pursuing a Claim

Normally, medical malpractice attorneys pursue claims on behalf of clients by filing paperwork with the defendant's insurance policy provider. A lawyer will send the insurer a demand package that outlines what happened, why the practitioner is at fault, and how much compensation the client expects.

The insurer will appoint a claims adjuster who will assess the validity of the case. If the case appears to be valid, the adjust will recommend the insurer offer a settlement. The two sides may negotiate if the client doesn't find the settlement acceptable. Likewise, a claimant may sue if negotiations fail or the insurer rejects the claim.