Doctors and medical professionals are responsible for the wellbeing of the patients in their care and have a duty to do no harm. Medical malpractice is a term used to describe instances where doctors and other healthcare professionals fail in this duty and inflict injuries on the people under their care. Medical malpractice takes many forms, and it’s vital for Philadelphia residents to know their rights should a doctor make an egregious or damaging error during the course of any treatment.
Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice cases vary widely, but they ultimately fall into one of three main categories:
- Delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose – Doctors must be able to accurately determine a patient’s health status and do so in a timely manner. Of course doctors are not expected to be perfect, and mistakes can and do happen. However, the determining factor in whether or not such an incident would count as medical malpractice is whether or not a similarly skilled professional would have taken the same action in the situation in question. A delayed or incorrect diagnosis can prolong patients’ suffering or even leave them susceptible to more severe conditions.
- Improper treatment – Doctors develop treatment plans that follow ongoing research concerning the medical conditions they treat. They are expected to follow accepted standards when it comes to administering care to patients. If a doctor treats a patient in a way that no other reasonable and competent doctor would, that doctor is guilty of medical malpractice.
- Failure to establish informed consent or failure to warn – Informed consent means that a patient has been fully informed about the risks of a prescribed treatment plan. If a doctor fails to warn a patient about a specific risk or a potential complication with an existing condition, that doctor is failing his or her duty to do no harm and is also effectively preventing the patient from being able to make an informed decision about his or her medical care.
- Gross negligence – In extreme cases, doctors make mistakes that even non-medically trained individuals would not. Although rare, gross negligence would apply to scenarios such as operating on the wrong side of the body, or reading an x-ray backward and amputating the wrong limb. Doctors found guilty of gross negligence often lose their licenses to practice medicine.
Establishing Malpractice and Winning Your Case
If you believe you have suffered due to medical malpractice, it is imperative to connect with an established, reliable, experienced medical malpractice Philadelphia attorney. To collect compensation for your damages, you must prove the doctor’s negligence. This process is similar to proving negligence in personal injury cases with a few exceptions:
- First, you must prove that a patient-doctor relationship existed. If you meet a doctor at a social gathering and take an offhanded comment as medical advice, the doctor could not be held liable for malpractice if you injure yourself. You must be able to prove that you visited with the doctor and received treatment in an official capacity.
- Next, you must establish that the doctor had a duty to act with reasonable care. This is the easiest step because doctors are expected to provide their patients with the best care possible and do no harm.
- Third, you must show the court how the doctor broke this duty to act with reasonable care. This can be a specific action, such as a surgical error, or inaction, such as a failure to diagnose or warn the patient of a known risk of a treatment plan.
- Finally, you must prove your damages were the direct result of the doctor’s actions (or inaction). You can only sue for the injuries and damages that directly resulted from your interactions with the defendant.
Medical malpractice cases can quickly spiral into complex affairs, so it’s important for Philadelphia residents to know where to turn in case such an event happens to them. At Anapol Weiss, our team focuses on maximizing our clients’ recovery. Reach out to our team to schedule a consultation about your medical malpractice case in Philadelphia and answer any questions you have about medical malpractice law in Pennsylvania.