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Medical Negligence Definition
Medical malpractice refers to negligent acts committed by health care professionals in carrying out their duties to a patient.
An honest mistake on the part of a doctor or nurse, or a bad outcome for the patient does not alone constitute medical malpractice. In order for negligence to have occurred, the conduct of a health care professional must fall below the standard of a reasonably competent doctor or nurse through a failure to exercise the care and skill required of the profession.
In order to succeed in a claim for medical malpractice, it is also necessary to prove that the negligent conduct of a health care professional involved in a patient’s care actually caused the patient’s injury. This means proving that “but for” the negligent conduct of the doctor or nurse, the patient would not have suffered their injury.
Proving both aspects of a medical malpractice claim – negligence and causation – requires the expert opinions of physicians or nurses similarly qualified as those in question to establish that the conduct in question fell below the standard of care and that this breach of the standard caused the patient’s injury.
Damages are awarded in successful medical malpractice cases under three main categories: cost of care, lost income, and pain and suffering. The goal in awarding damages is to put the plaintiff in the position they would be had the injury not occurred, as far as money can.
Medical malpractice is a highly specialized area of law, and claims are complex and expensive to run. Most of the evidence required is obtained through the evidence of experts which makes up the primary cost of bringing a medical malpractice claim to court, and even a strong case is no guarantee of success. As a result, the opinion of lawyers skilled in this area should be sought early to determine if a claim has merit and should be pursued.
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