What is Medical Malpractice? | Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Medical Malpractice?


Medical malpractice is an act, lack of action, or omission by a health care provider that deviates from accepted standards of practice which results in an injury to a patient. In other words, improper care or treatment by a physician, surgeon, or other healthcare provider can amount to medical malpractice.

“Accepted Standards of Practice”

In order for your medical malpractice lawsuit to succeed, you must be able to prove that the medical practitioner or facility failed to act in a manner in which a reasonably skilled or knowledgeable healthcare professional would.

Many procedures carry with them certain risks. If you undergo a surgery in which one of the knowable risks is that you may lose the function of your arm and you do in fact lose the function of your arm, that doesn’t mean the doctor has committed medical malpractice.

However, if you undergo a surgery with the risk of losing the function of your arm and you instead end up paralyzed from the waist down, that clearly was not one of knowable risks, and it may be determined that your physician deviated from the accepted standards of practice.


Not only do you have to prove that your physician deviated from the accepted standards of practice, but you must also prove that your injuries were directly caused by that deviation.

Suppose you undergo a surgery and the surgeons leave an instrument in your abdominal cavity. Before you’re discharged from the hospital, someone realizes what has happened, and you are rushed to an additional surgery to remove the device. If you didn’t suffer any injuries from the instrument being left in your body, you may not have a clear path toward a winning medical malpractice case.

But what if no one catches the mistake? What if you are discharged from the hospital and continue living your life for six months with painful abdominal problems until another physician realizes what has happened? In that case, you have sustained various injuries over the past six months that were directly caused by the instrument left in your abdominal cavity. This is more likely to be a medical malpractice case.

Who Can Be Held Responsible for Medical Malpractice?

Your attorney will have to determine whom to hold responsible for your case of medical malpractice. This may or may not be your physician. In fact, medical malpractice lawsuits may be filed against:

  • Nurses
  • Obstetricians
  • Midwifes
  • Caregivers
  • Medical facilities
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Medical device manufacturers
  • Physicians