When a Doctor’s Mistake Isn’t Medical Malpractice

Updated on March 29, 2021

By Leland D. Bengtson

Sometimes, doctors make mistakes that don’t qualify as medical malpractice. When a patient gets worse during treatment, people tend to suspect malpractice, but the following conditions might apply:

  • Untreatable condition
  • Patients who react differently to standard medical treatment
  • Doctor and staff acted with reasonable skill and care
  • Illnesses that are terminal, like metastasizing cancers. 

These circumstances alone don’t represent medical malpractice, but they could if other factors are involved — such as failing to inform the patients of the risks or possible negative outcomes. Some patients may grow sicker or die after treatment, but those outcomes don’t necessarily indicate malpractice. 

The Difficulties of Proving Medical Malpractice

It is difficult to prove medical malpractice because the burden of proof falls on the patient. The patient must prove that the doctor deviated from standard medical practice in some way, or the patient care services were inadequate. 

It takes a skilled attorney who specializes in medical malpractice to prove your case, and it helps to hire a malpractice lawyer with an impressive settlement rate. These cases are expensive to prove in court, and even when the case is proven, there may be long delays in litigation. 

Attorneys who can demonstrate ample knowledge of medical issues and strong courtroom skills also tend to get more settlement offers. 

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, clinic, doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional causes an injury to a patient because of a misdiagnosis, negligence, omission, poor health management decision, or errors made in patient aftercare. 

Proving medical malpractice must include the following:

  • The patient received care that wasn’t up to the standard of care established for treating the condition.
  • An injury was caused by negligence, medical omission, or nonstandard treatment.
  • It must be proven that one of the above factors caused an injury to the patient, which includes mental issues.
  • The patient must prove that the injury wouldn’t have occurred without the negligence, omission, or nonstandard treatment.
  • The injury must have caused serious injuries, medical expenses, or social consequences. 

Proof of damages includes loss of income, disability, debilitating pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, and extreme financial hardships. Proving these conditions in court takes lots of time, legal resources, and expenses for an uncertain outcome. That’s why most patients would rather settle their cases. 

The Shift to Team-based Medical Care 

Most hospitals and medical practices are shifting away from relying on one doctor to assigning a team of care specialists to every complex case. The higher risk of litigation and the costs of settling cases are shifting the nature of the treatment to a group effort. 

This team-based approach provides automatic access to second and third opinions, reviews of treatment strategy, and backup oversight to confirm that all boxes outlining standards of care were checked. 

Optimized Care Means Harder Malpractice Claims for Patients 

Adding to the difficulties of proving malpractice, team-based care uses multiple redundancies to drive optimal care and reduce the chances of medical malpractice. Members of the team review the work of other team members to spot errors of omission, risks of nonstandard treatments, and life-threatening negligence when it comes to patient care. 

These changes make it harder to prove medical malpractice. That’s why you need an attorney who’s well versed in prosecuting medical malpractice lawsuits. You would have the right to compensation if medical malpractice caused an injury that resulted in damages. For instance, a malpractice lawyer with a $500,000 settlement under their belt will know how to negotiate a fair injury settlement on your behalf. And if the case needs to go to trial, it will go to trial.

Leland D. Bengtson

As a journalist, Leland D. Bengtson dedicated most of his career to law reporting. He aims to draw in the public and make people more interested in the field. He is active on multiple platforms to increase his outreach to the public. Leland tirelessly covers all types of legal issues, but he has a personal preference for medical malpractice. This is mainly because he witnessed the implications of medical malpractice on a family member.

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