Many patients are dissatisfied with the treatment they have received from doctors in California. However, simply being unhappy with your diagnosis and treatment and suffering medical malpractice are vastly different. Medical malpractice occurs when healthcare professionals substantially deviate from the level of care that patients expect.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice can occur in many different settings and situations. It involves one or more errors by doctors or other medical staff to diagnose properly, provide appropriate treatment or action, or give substandard treatment. These actions or inactions must result in substantial harm, injury or death. In addition to providing substandard care, medical malpractice must incorporate injuries resulting from negligence that have lasting consequences.
Negligence involves four legal elements that plaintiffs must prove:
- Professional duty owed to the patient
- Breach of that duty
- The injury caused the breach
- Resulting damages
Acts of omission when professionals did not take any action can also be considered negligence.
Medical malpractice examples
The following errors and incidents can lead to medical malpractice lawsuits:
- Unnecessary or incorrect surgery
- Failure to obtain informed consent
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
- Failure to order appropriate tests or correctly interpret results
- Wrong dosage or wrong medication
- Instrument left inside a person after surgery
- Potentially fatal infections acquired in the hospital
- Pressure ulcers or bedsores
What’s involved in the medical malpractice process?
Essentially, medical malpractice involves personal injuries suffered at the hands of healthcare professionals. These cases are often complex and involve a lot of paperwork, including medical records and other documents, depositions and interrogatories. Both plaintiffs and defendants may enlist the aid of independent medical experts to prove their case.
Plaintiffs can seek compensation for the injuries sustained by medical errors. Courts can award two types of damages: compensatory and unitive. Compensatory damages involve lost earnings, life care expenses and medical expenses by assessing past and future losses. Punitive damages aren’t always awarded and are considered a form of punishment. The court will only award punitive damages if the defendants are found guilty of malicious or willful misconduct.