What is medical malpractice and what are your rights if you are the victim
of malpractice ? Today's blog post discusses what medical malpractice
is, what to look for and what you can do about it.
Medical malpractice is defined in New York as the negligence of a doctor
where there is a failure of the doctor to use reasonable care under the
circumstances. The doctor must have done something or failed to do something
that a reasonably prudent doctor would not have done or would do under
the circumstances. Malpractice is a deviation or departure from accepted
practice. We, as attorneys, look for the standard of practice in your
area of medicine and in your area of the state or country and how the
doctor's deviation from that standard injured you.
Any medical professional who treats a patient is required to have a reasonable
degree of knowledge and skill of an average medical professional who performs
the treatment on you. The doctor who treats you must provide medical treatment
that is at or above the average standard of care for the medical community
in which the doctor practices. There are certainly differences of doctors'
abilities and they are not required to have extraordinary knowledge and/or
ability. A doctor has to keep reasonably informed of new developments
in his or her field of expertise. Your doctor must also use his or her
best judgment. Doctors cannot guarantee good results and the fact that
there has been a bad result in your medical treatment does not mean that
a doctor committed malpractice and is, as a result, liable for malpractice.
If your doctor is negligent, that is, lacks the skill or knowledge required
of him or her in providing medical services, fails to use reasonable care
in providing services, or fails to exercise his or her best judgment AND
his or her failure is a substantial factor in causing harm to you, then
the doctor may be held liable. Being held liable means that the doctor
is ordered to pay you compensation for your injuries.
What does all of this mean ? Doctors are human and they make mistakes just
like everyone else in the world. They have good days and bad days. Some
doctors are more capable than others. Some doctors stay informed of new
developments in medicine and some do not. In all, the medical community
has a minimum standard of care for nearly every procedure that exists.
What is a standard of care ? A standard of care is what the medical community
believes, as a whole, should be done under a particular set of facts.
For example, how long should a pregnant mother be in labor before an obstetrician
must decide to perform a ceasarian section. Another example would be when
should an orthopedist decide to perform surgery and insert plates and
screws into a bone to repair a fracture. Doctors make these decisions
about your medical care after consultation with you, but most of the public
simply has no idea when these things should be done. Ask your neighbor
if they know when to perform a ceasarian section or when to perform an
open reduction with an internal fixation. I will bet that your neighbor,
unless he or she is an obstetrician or an orthopedist, is not going to
know when these procedures should be performed. As a result, doctors must
know the minimum standards of care and should comply with them. If they
do not and you are hurt because of their negligence, you are entitled
to be compensated for pain and suffering along with many other types of damages.
What if there is a problem with birth of a child ? What if there is an
infection with the surgery to repair a broken ankle ? Well, every complication
does not mean that a medical professional committed malpractice. What
we look at is the standard of care, such as how long was a mother in labor
prior to the doctor deciding to perform a ceasarian section. Infections,
for example, are a risk in any surgical procedure and really the onset
of an infection is rarely going to be something that the medical community
will consider malpractice. Now if an infection is caused because there
is a foreign object left inside your body at the location of your surgery,
that is a completely different story and that situation is almost always
going to be considered malpractice.
How do we evaluate your case and decide whether malpractice has been committed
? First, we discuss the matter with you. Our clients occasionally have
a doctor or other medical professional tell them that the prior procedure
was botched and they should speak to an attorney. While this does not
happen all the time and I find that doctors do not like to throw their
colleagues under the bus, occasionally they have no choice but to tell
the truth and let their patient know that they have been the victim of
malpractice. If we do not have this information available, we collect
your medical records, review them, conduct our own research, have the
records reviewed by medical professionals and get the opinion of competent
doctors on what took place with you medically. We are not out to file
suit against doctors just because its how we like to spend our days in
the office. We look for and spend our time on legitimate cases where people
have been the victims of professional negligence who either should not
be practicing or were having a really bad day. It happens. We all have
insurance for a reason and this is yet another example of why people have
With all of this in mind, take a look back at the course of your medical
treatment. If you believe that your treatment and recovery has not gone
as well as it should have and there are questionable things that your
doctor has said or done, give me a call for a free consultation. We evaluate
cases for free and meet with clients free of charge. We take our representation
of our client's seriously. We advocate for the rights of victims that
have been injured by other people's negligence. We do everything possible
to make you and your family whole again and we fight for you.
If you suspect that you have been the victim of malpractice, call for a
free consultation today. Michael R. Varble & Associates, P.C., we'll
fight for you !