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Medical Malpractice vs. Substandard Treatment — What’s the Difference?

 |   |  Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury, Wrongful Death

Approximately 225,000 patients die annually due to medical malpractice, leaving behind devastated loved ones and unfulfilled financial obligations. This negligence has become the third leading cause of death in the United States, and unfortunately, only an underwhelming 2% of those affected will seek just compensation by filing a medical malpractice claim.

A board-certified medical malpractice attorney is one of the best resources available to victims, so if you or a family member has been negatively affected by the carelessness of a healthcare provider, enlist the help of a legal advocate. They can help relieve you of the financial burden of illness or death, as you may be entitled to damages through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Do I have a medical malpractice case?

Before you take action against a hospital or doctor, however, it’s important to determine whether an injury or death was actually the result of medical malpractice. Below, you will find useful information that will help you know if you have a strong enough case to pursue compensation.

Defining Medical Malpractice

What Medical Malpractice Is

The purpose of a medical malpractice lawsuit is to protect the rights of patients when their care falls short of industry standards. Simply put, medical malpractice happens whenever a hospital staff member, a physician, or another medical professional injures a patient or worsens his or her condition through negligence in diagnosis, treatment, surgery, or post-operative care.

Some examples of medical malpractice include unnecessary surgery, misinterpretation of laboratory results, dismissal of patient symptoms (and subsequent failure to order tests), mistakes during surgery or operating on the wrong area, failure to review or consider a patient’s medical history, wrongful medication or incorrect dosage, and misdiagnosis.

In order for your case to be considered medical malpractice under the law, however, your case must establish negligence or recklessness and prove that:

  • Your doctor has provided substandard care: Under the law, healthcare professionals are expected to uphold a set of medical standards and to consistently provide care that meets or exceeds these standards. Negligence may be established whenever a trusted medical professional delivers care that is subpar.
  • Your injury is directly connected to the negligence of a doctor: Although it is critical to establish that your doctor violated your care standards, you must also prove that your injury would not have happened if the doctor had not been negligent. An injury without negligence is not considered medical malpractice.
  • Your injury has resulted in a significant financial burden: As with any other type of litigation, you should determine whether or not your financial losses are substantial enough to make a viable case. You will need to prove that your injury has resulted in a loss of income, suffering, hefty medical bills, or a disability.

What Medical Malpractice Isn’t

A medical malpractice lawsuit cannot be used to retaliate against a doctor for having poor bedside manner, for their failure to treat an untreatable (terminal) illness, or for the lack of response to a treatment. In order to have a case, you must be able to prove that your doctor has put you at risk or has caused substantial harm to your physical health.

Although a doctor will be held legally responsible for the misdiagnoses and wrongful treatments that resulted in the progression of the illness or death, they cannot be held liable for malpractice simply because the patient’s condition deteriorated over the course of treatment — if they upheld the proper protocol and standards and acted with wise judgment and skill.

This is because it is not guaranteed that a patient will benefit from every treatment their doctor recommends to them. Physicians use the process of deduction to rule out all possible conditions and treatments until they arrive at the right diagnosis and find a treatment that works. This is not considered medical malpractice, even if a patient’s health declines in the process.

Medical malpractice is also unrelated to untreatable illnesses, such as terminal cancer and AIDS. Laws surrounding malpractice are not in place to compensate for unfavorable health outcomes; rather, they ensure that healthcare practitioners abide by the acceptable standards of care and that those who do not receive this high-quality care receive compensation.

How an Attorney Can Help

If you are suffering from the effects of medical malpractice, contact an attorney immediately. Your case will have the best chance of success if you act promptly. A medical malpractice lawyer will provide you with reliable legal advice on achieving a favorable outcome for your situation and will help you obtain the proof you need to establish negligence.

Filing Your Medical Malpractice Claim

Get the compensation you deserve so that you can move forward with your life. Our qualified legal team at Shook & Stone is available to help you file your medical malpractice claim. With years of experience under our belts, you can trust that our firm has the knowledge and expertise to help you build a strong case and put this hardship behind you.

Contact Shook & Stone today or call us at (888) 662-2013 for a free initial consultation and to learn how our attorneys can help you with your case.