When patients go to their doctors for advice or enter the hospital for an operation, they expect to receive the best care possible under the guidelines of medical practice and state laws. Sometimes, the accepted standards of practice are ignored and a health care provider may commit medical malpractice, which often leads to injury and other irreversible consequences. Overall, medical malpractice involves the negligence on the part of professional medical staff.
The issue of medical malpractice is so important in the eyes of the public and government that the United States has developed specific medical malpractice laws to deal with this concern. In order to take suspected medical malpractice case before a court of law, a medical provider must have done something they weren’t supposed to do or failed to complete an act they should have performed.
Medical malpractice suits arise when failed medical services result in detrimental injury, decreased chances of recovery, and in the worst cases – death. When a professional in the health care business commits negligence, it is up to the patient to make it known and confirmed. This is often accomplished by taking the issue to court. In the end, a guilty medical care provider will be held accountable for all of the injury or damages their actions (or lack thereof) have caused.
Since medical malpractice is a severe issue, there are certain restrictions imposed that also protects doctors, surgeons, and hospitals from misuse of the judicial system. Varying on a state-to-state basis, a range of strict time limitations are upheld, which prevents the pursuit of certain lawsuits. Whichever state the medical malpractice is said to have taken place is where the injured party must abide by state time limitations. Therefore, if a patient living in Wisconsin received ill treatment in New Jersey, their medical malpractice suit must reflect the regulations set by the state of New Jersey.
While there are state limitations regarding medical malpractice, there are also exceptions to the rule. For instance, the normal time limits for placing a malpractice claim in New York is within two and a half years of the offending act. However, if the malpractice caused injury to a child, New York State provides ten years to bring a case to court. An additional clause states that once a child reaches the age of 20 and a half years of age, they may not bring forward a medical malpractice suit to court. Another exception to the limitation rule is the uncovering of medical instruments left within the body after an operation, where a patient has up to one year after its discovery to make a claim.
In a medical malpractice claim, the involved parties include a plaintiff (the patient) and the defendant (health care provider). Under law, the defendant may include physicians, dentists, nurses, therapists, hospitals, clinics, and other managed health care facilities.
A plaintiff is responsible for proving a variety of case details in order to succeed in their medical malpractice claim. This includes: a duty was owed (care or treatment), a duty was breached (failure to adhere to standards of care), the breach caused injury, and damages came as a result. One of the most important things to prove in a medical malpractice case is that damages occurred during failed medical care. Without damages, a medical malpractice claim has no basis even if a medical provider was indeed negligent in their actions.