Medical malpractice seems at first pretty straightforward—if the doctor made a mistake, then you have a case, right? Not always.
Defining Medical Malpractice
First, let’s look at a definition for medical malpractice:
“An act, lack of action, or omission by a healthcare provider that deviates from accepted standards of practice which results in an injury to a patient”
It’s the “accepted standards of practice” that are a bit harder to define. Doctors can perform at the “accepted standards of practice” and tragedy can still occur. A doctor can still have patients whom they cannot cure, pregnant mothers who miscarry, and children born with defects no matter how perfectly they practice medicine.
But when doctors fall short of the “accepted standards of practice”—when their actions (or lack thereof) directly cause a patient to suffer from a curable disease, a pregnant mother to miscarry, or a child to be born with a birth injury—that is when medical malpractice has occurred.
Proving Medical Negligence and Causation
A skilled medical malpractice attorney has to prove both medical negligence and causation in order to win your medical malpractice case.
Medical negligence means that the doctor or healthcare professional deviated from those “accepted standards of practice.” What they did or didn’t do would, in any case, be seen as unacceptable.
Causation means proving that the doctor’s medical negligence caused your injury, pain, or suffering. Your attorney has to show that, if the doctor had met the “accepted standards of practice,” you would not be in as terrible of a medical condition as you currently are.
When It ISN’T Medical Malpractice:
A doctor may misdiagnose your cold symptoms for seasonal allergies. Surely if the doctor were performing at the “accepted standards of practice” and was more thorough in his diagnosis, he would see that you’re simply suffering from a cold. But if the doctor simply recommends you take an over-the-counter decongestant, you may start to feel better. Your doctor didn’t cause your condition to worsen, so there is no medical malpractice.
When It IS Medical Malpractice:
If you go to the doctor and he says you’re having period cramps when really you’re suffering from ovarian cancer and he neglects to take your pain seriously or order necessary X-rays or testing, your ovarian cancer will go undiagnosed and likely worsen. When you are finally diagnosed with ovarian cancer months later, your cancer will have progressed and worsened to a later stage than it was when your doctor originally dismissed your symptoms. If your doctor had performed at the “accepted standards of practice” and performed the necessary tests to rule out ovarian cancer, your cancer might have been caught earlier at a more curable stage. Your doctor’s medical negligence caused you to develop a later stage of ovarian cancer.
Help from an Indiana Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical malpractice is tricky to define. It takes an experienced medical malpractice attorney to be able to prove that your medical condition is the direct result of medical malpractice. If you or a loved one has suffered needlessly due to the negligence of a doctor, medical professional, or healthcare facility, you may have a medical malpractice case. Call Hensley Legal Group today for a free consultation.