What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider—a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, hospital or hospital worker—whose performance of duties departs from a standard of practice of those with similar training and experience, resulting in harm to a patient or patients.
What do I do if I think I have a medical malpractice claim?
Talk to a lawyer who specializes in such work. Tell the attorney exactly what happened to you, from the first time you visited your doctor through your last contact with him or her. What were the circumstances surrounding your illness or injury? How did your doctor treat it? What did your doctor tell you about your treatment? Did you follow your doctor's instructions? What happened to you? Answers to these and other relevant questions become important if you think your doctor may have committed malpractice. Like other personal injury claims, the case will either be settled or go to trial, usually before a jury.
How does a jury determine if a doctor's actions were within the standards of good medical practice?
A jury will consider testimony by experts—usually other doctors, who will testify whether they believe your physician's actions followed standard medical practice or fell below the accepted standard of care. In deciding whether your heart surgeon was negligent, for example, a jury will be told to rely on expert testimony to determine what a competent heart surgeon would have done under the same or similar circumstances. A specialist, like a heart surgeon, is held to a higher standard of care—that of a specialist—than would be expected of a nonspecialist.
What if I'm just not satisfied with the results of my surgery? Do I have a malpractice case?
In general, there are no guarantees of medical results. You would have to show an injury or damages that resulted from the doctor's deviation from the appropriate standard of care for your condition.