What can be Classified as Medical Malpractice?

By on September 3, 2012

Most of us go to the doctor when we are feeling unwell expecting that we will not only be treated for any current medical problems, but will also be provided with information and screening to assist in the prevention of developing others.   Medical practitioners are highly skilled professionals and they generally enjoy our respect and trust.  We allow them to do things to our bodies that we would never allow anyone in the general public to do in the belief that the treatments they offer us will not harm us.

The Inevitable Questions

When the unthinkable happens and the advice we are given is incorrect or the therapies offered to us create more, sometimes even more serious problems, we are left with many questions.  We begin to question why it has happened, what caused it to happen and who is to blame for the problems that have developed.  Inevitably, the question we will start to ask is “was it something that my doctor, physiotherapist or other health professional did that was wrong?”

Providing the Evidence

Proving medical malpractice is never easy.  The evidence that can be used to prove that a health professional has in some way harmed or injured a patient is specific.  Approaching a malpractice-experienced lawyer to assist with the legal requirements is essential.  If you are considering bringing a lawsuit against someone for medical malpractice you will be required to prove the doctor or other health practitioner did something or did not do something that directly led to the injury or problem you are now suffering from.  Laws vary throughout the world with different countries understanding malpractice in their own ways and applying the laws differently in their legal systems.  What is seen as malpractice in England for example may not be considered malpractice in Australia.

Reading information on the Internet or accessing information in any other way cannot usually be used to prove malpractice.  The doctor, nurse or other professional may have offered different advice if they were aware of any other underlying problems that could have indirectly led to the consequences of incorrect information or treatment they may have suggested generically online.  It will also be difficult to prove negligence if it is possible that a pre-existing condition could have contributed to the problem that has developed.  There are many illnesses or conditions that can happen as a side effect of a primary illness and if you develop any of these conditions, it will be difficult to prove that it was caused by something your health professional did or did not do.

Expert Witnesses Testimony

The actions of the health professional must be proven negligent when compared to what another similarly qualified practitioner would have done in similar circumstances.  To prove this negligence, or malpractice, will usually require the testimony of one or more expert witnesses (usually peers of the health professional involved) who can provide solid evidence that the injury or problem was the direct result of the action or inaction of the health professional.   It can be an error of omission, (for example the practitioner forgot to take symptoms into consideration and this led to an incorrect diagnosis or prescription of a medication), or it could be directly related to treatment given or the aftercare provided following treatment.

In proving malpractice, you must also have had a formal relationship with the health professional involved.  You must have made an appointment to see them and any advice they gave you, treatment they prescribed or interventions they performed must have been within the context of that relationship.

Compensation is Your Right

Whilst all this may seem a little overwhelming, remember that you are within your rights to receive compensation for injuries caused by a doctor or other professional and whilst you will need to provide a rock solid case against the health professional, if you are facing chronic problems resulting from the malpractice, it is worth seeking compensation to make your life easier in the future.

Medical negligence is not something that should be ignored so if you feel you have been unfairly treated get in touch with a lawyer today to see where you stand.

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