While physicians are generally trained and compassionate, mistakes can always be made. Even the most renowned and respected doctors are imperfect and have the capacity for error. According to a recent John Hopkins study, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US. These account for 210,000-400,000 preventable deaths every year. While most of these do not qualify as malpractice, the numbers are undeniably concerning. That’s why Raynes | Erickson strives to impact the quality of locally provided health care through litigation.
While medical errors are regarded as mistakes made in good faith, instances of malpractice should be met with legal consequences and compensation for the injured patient. In understanding the difference between the two terms, we can see when an error becomes a case of malpractice.
What is a medical error?
According to the library of medicine, a medical error is a mistake or accident that is not committed in negligence. It may or may not result in the patient’s harm. However, in either case, the healthcare provider will not be held liable in the absence of negligence.
What is medical malpractice?
A cause of action for medical malpractice will always be centered on the question of negligence. This is defined as a physician’s failure to exercise reasonable care for their patient, or to practice medicine consistent with the community standards set by other similar physicians. Negligent medical care is considered to have fallen short of or breached the community standard of care while resulting in injury.
The following are the two necessary factual elements that differentiate a medical error from medical malpractice:
- The healthcare professional must have violated the standard of care. This can be defined as how a doctor of a similar skill level would have acted in similar circumstances. Determining this standard almost always requires the careful consideration of an attorney and at least one physician.
- The patient must have been harmed as a result of the physician’s negligent actions. This is a required element – in cases in which a doctor acted negligently, but the patient was not injured, there is no cause of action for medical malpractice.
At Raynes | Erickson, our team of knowledgeable and experienced medical lawyers advocates for patients in cases of medical negligence. In so doing, we strive to improve the quality and safety of our local healthcare community by pursuing legal action against substandard medical providers and hospitals. If you or a loved one has suffered injury as a result of medical malpractice, do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to provide medical-legal counsel and offer free consultations. Contact us today to benefit from our expertise and legal advice. Do not wait; there are deadlines for filing medical malpractice cases in California, an attorney is waiting to advise you on the statute of limitations for your case.