Medical Malpractice Basics

The Basics of Medical Malpractice

Medical professionals carry an enormous amount of responsibility. Their actions and decisions can mean the difference between life and death. Because of this tremendous responsibility, medical professionals are held to a very high standard and must be held accountable for any poor decisions or miscalculated actions. Medical malpractice can be defined as negligent, unskilled, or improper treatment of a patient by health care provider resulting in the medical error, injury to the patient, or death.

Medical malpractice can involve a number of health care scenarios. According to Habush Habush & Rottier S.C., some of the most common medical malpractice cases involve birth injuries, wrongful death, missed or incorrect diagnosis, delay in treatment, emergency room errors, improper treatment, dental malpractice and nursing home neglect. A patient who believes they are a victim of medical malpractice must be able to prove that their health care provider violated the applicable standard of care, the patient suffered an injury, and that the injury was directly or indirectly caused by the poor medical care.

The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that poor medical care played a role in the deaths of about 180,000 patients in the year of 2010. However, the Journal of Patient Safety believes that this number is much higher. The Journal came out with a study in 2013 claiming that the number of deaths in a year resulting from medical malpractice was between 210,000 and 440,000. If these numbers are accurate, that would make medical malpractice the third-leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer.

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