When Are Medical Errors Legally Actionable? - Wrongful Death Doctor talk and patient medical working at offi

When Are Medical Errors Legally Actionable?

Medical Malpractice Lawyer

It isn’t always easy to know when an individual has grounds upon which to file a legal case. The law is so complex and it evolves constantly. And, in personal injury matters specifically, the nuances of a particular scenario almost always make or break an individual’s ability to pursue compensation successfully.

When it comes to matters of medical malpractice, there are several concerns that must be addressed before a case can be considered viable. In many ways, because of the “professional standards” element that must be addressed in medical malpractice matters, these cases arguably turn on context-related nuance more than any other type of personal injury case does.

What Exactly Is Medical Malpractice?

As an experienced medical malpractice lawyer – including those who practice at Ward & Ward Law Firm – can explain in greater detail, medical malpractice occurs (essentially) when a patient suffers harm due to a healthcare provider or facility’s negligence, recklessness, or intentionally dangerous actions/inactions. The reason why medical malpractice is more complex than other personal injury cases is that the issue of whether a healthcare provider’s approach was, indeed, legally actionable is a professional standards issue.

Broadly speaking, if another healthcare provider who is similarly trained/of a similar specialty would have provided a patient with an alternative approach to care if faced with the same circumstances and the patient suffers harm as a result of the provider’s substandard approach, their case is likely to be legally actionable.

In Plain English, Please

Say that an expectant mother has gone into labor. She heads to the hospital where a licensed OBGYN is assigned to her care. She is not hooked up to a fetal monitor, even though her medical history indicates that she is at high risk for complications. In time, the mother starts showing signs of distress. The OBGYN finally orders fetal monitoring. By then, it is too late. The fetus’s heart has stopped due to lack of oxygen caused by a positioning issue that the OBGYN never checked for.

If it is determined that OBGYNs facing similar circumstances would have checked for positioning concerns and ordered fetal monitoring, the physician in question will almost certainly be found to have committed egregious malpractice against the mother and her fetus.

Essentially, it is not enough that an actor is negligent for there to be grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Instead, the substandard professional care of a healthcare provider must have disregarded the kinds of care ordinarily called for by the profession and a victim must have suffered harm as a result in order for a medical malpractice claim to be legally actionable.

What if a Patient Isn’t Sure?

If patients aren’t sure of whether they have grounds upon which to file legal action, that’s both okay and understandable. It isn’t always obvious when a provider has committed malpractice, particularly because most people aren’t familiar with professional standards of care in every situation. By speaking with an experienced legal professional, a patient can gain a strong sense of their unique rights and options under the law.