Doctors and other medical professionals are generally competent, skilled and compassionate professionals. They spend years pursuing a rigorous education so that they can care for others. The public typically has a lot of respect for members of the medical profession, and many people are afraid to question something that their physician says.
Unfortunately, because doctors are human, they can make mistakes when caring for others. So can medical support staff, hospitals and doctors’ offices. Understanding what constitutes medical malpractice can help you identify it when it happens to you or possibly even avoid it.
Medical malpractice is care that deviates from best practices
Not every bad medical outcome is the result of medical malpractice. Doctors and other medical professionals often invest hours in diagnosing and treating patients, only to have that treatment fail.
Provided that another reasonably competent medical professional with a similar background would reach the same diagnosis and pursue the same course of treatment, malpractice likely did not occur. However, when a medical professional’s actions deviate from what is acceptable or appropriate according to other professionals in the industry, that could constitute medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice falls into multiple distinct categories
There isn’t just one type of medical malpractice, but several classifications. Medication mistakes could occur when a hospital administers a drug to someone or when a pharmacy dispenses a new prescription.
Surgical errors occur during an operation and can have life-altering consequences. Failure to diagnose involves a physician jumping to conclusions or otherwise not following proper diagnostic protocol and therefore not reaching the proper diagnosis, or misdiagnosing someone and performing unnecessary treatment. Birth injuries are another category of common medical malpractice issues.
Malpractice could involve mistakes, negligence or even wrongful acts, like replacing one medication with another so that the nurse can steal it for personal use. Looking at your medical records or getting a second opinion is often the first step toward determining whether you experienced medical malpractice.