When is a poor outcome considered medical malpractice?

When is a poor outcome considered medical malpractice?

Medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the United States, with reports indicating that 250,000 or more patients die each year from preventable medical errors, and hundreds of thousands more suffer injuries and catastrophic harm from medical negligence.  If you are injured, your condition worsens, or you endure other catastrophic suffering following medical treatment, how do you know whether this constitutes a poor outcome, or medical malpractice?

Several factors must be evaluated to determine whether an injury constitutes medical malpractice.  Speaking to an experienced San Diego medical malpractice attorney is important to gain an understanding into what comprises a medical malpractice lawsuit, and begin an investigation into your matter.  For example, the first step is to determine whether an doctor patient relationship exist – did you go to the hospital/ER or see a medical professional during a scheduled office visit?  Or did you base your treatment on a casual conversation with someone with a medical background?  The first step in establishing a medical malpractice claim is to show that a professional relationship was established between the patient and health care professional, such that the patient was owed a duty of care.

Showing the failure to meet this duty of care is the next step in a successful medical malpractice action.  The duty of care refers to the level of care expected by that professional, whether an obstetrical nurse, or heart surgeon.  This is almost always shown through expert testimony.  If the medical professional’s actions do not meet that level of care, it is called a breach.  Demonstrating that this breach has caused the patient harm, is the crux of a successful medical malpractice claim.  If the breach occurs, and the patient’s outcome is not affected, then it may be difficult to bring a successful medical malpractice claim.  Likewise, if the patient has a poor outcome, but the care received was within the standard of care, a claim for medical malpractice is weak.  The strongest medical malpractice claims are those where the medical professionals conduct breaches the standard of care, and catastrophic harm (i.e. loss of a limb, brain injury, cancer advancement) or death occurs. 

Because each situation is different, if you believe you may have suffered harm due to preventable medical malpractice, please contact the experienced San Diego medical malpractice lawyers at Bostwick & Peterson, LLP for an immediate consultation.


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