What is Medical Malpractice?

What is medical malpractice

Medical malpractice arises when a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or nurse, inflicts harm on a patient due to negligence or omission. This can result from diagnosis, treatment, aftercare, or health management errors. Patients need to understand what constitutes medical malpractice to protect their rights.

For many, the medical world can be complicated and overwhelming. We trust healthcare providers with our well-being, expecting them to follow the highest standards. However, sometimes things go wrong. When medical care fails and harms rather than heals, it may be a case of medical malpractice. At Conboy Law, we know how common medical malpractice is in the United States. If a healthcare provider has failed to follow medical standards, we may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit for you.

Learn more about medical malpractice cases and malpractice insurance below. Then, give us a call to schedule a free consultation. We would be honored to review your medical malpractice case.

Importance of Understanding Medical Malpractice

Awareness about medical malpractice is essential for all patients. It helps individuals recognize when they might be victims and equips them with knowledge to seek legal recourse. Being informed empowers patients, ensuring they don’t suffer silently when wronged.

Furthermore, understanding medical malpractice can also lead to prevention. When healthcare professionals know that patients know their rights, they may be more meticulous in their practice. The ultimate goal is not just to seek compensation but to elevate the standard of care in the medical field through professional liability.

Common Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Common medical malpractice lawsuits

Several scenarios can lead to medical malpractice lawsuits. These situations stem from a breach of trust and standard of care between the patient and the healthcare provider. Understanding these can help in recognizing and addressing them promptly. The patient must show a variety of pieces of evidence to prove their case.

Surgical Errors

Surgical procedures are complex, but patients trust surgeons for a successful outcome. Unfortunately, sometimes errors occur, such as operating on the wrong site or leaving surgical instruments inside a patient. Such mistakes can lead to severe complications, extended recovery, or additional surgeries. Medical records are crucial for this type of case.

However, not all unsatisfactory outcomes in a medical procedure are due to malpractice. Injury or death alone does not lead to medical malpractice. It’s crucial to differentiate between inherent surgical risks and negligence. When the error is avoidable and stems from a lapse in the standard of care, it could be malpractice.

Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis

Accurate diagnosis is a must for effective treatment. A failure to diagnose can lead to unnecessary treatments or worsen the existing condition. Delayed diagnosis, on the other hand, can result in the progression of an ailment, reducing treatment effectiveness. This is one of the most common medical errors.

In such cases, the key question is whether another competent doctor would have made a different diagnosis with the same information. If the answer is yes, it might be a case of malpractice.

Medication Errors

Medication can heal, but when wrongly prescribed, it can harm. Errors can range from prescribing the wrong drug or dosage to failing to spot potential drug interactions. Such mistakes can lead to severe health repercussions or exacerbate the current condition.

For a medication error to be classified as malpractice, the error must result from a deviation from the standard of care. It’s not just about an unwanted side effect but about negligence in prescribing or administering the drug.

Birth Injuries

Medical negligence can turn childbirth into a tragedy. Birth injuries might result from delayed cesarean sections, misuse of forceps, or failure to monitor fetal distress. Such injuries can have lifelong consequences, both for the child and the family.

It’s essential to distinguish between birth injuries and birth defects. While defects are often unavoidable and linked to genetics, injuries are preventable and usually arise from medical negligence during birth.

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia makes surgeries possible, numbing pain during procedures. However, errors in its administration can result in severe complications, from brain damage to death. Mistakes might include giving too much anesthesia, not monitoring the patient, or failing to identify potential complications.

Anesthesia errors, though less common than other malpractices, can be catastrophic. They demand immediate attention and often lead to long-term consequences for the patient.

Requirements for Medical Malpractice Claims

Requirements for medical malpractice claims

To successfully file a medical malpractice claim, certain conditions must be met. These criteria ensure that genuine cases get the attention they deserve and help filter out unfounded claims.

Doctor-Patient Relationship

For a malpractice claim, a clear doctor-patient relationship must exist. This means the doctor agreed to see and treat you, and you agreed to be seen and treated. Without this established relationship, one cannot claim malpractice.

However, the relationship isn’t just about formalities. It emphasizes the trust and duty of care the doctor owes the patient. In this relationship, the doctor commits to providing a certain standard of care, which, if breached, can lead to malpractice claims.

Negligence Resulting in Injury

It’s not enough for a patient to be unhappy with treatment or results. For a claim, the doctor must have been negligent in connection to the diagnosis or treatment. Further, this negligence must directly result in harm or injury to the patient.

It’s a crucial distinction. Medicine isn’t an exact science, and not all outcomes are predictable. But if harm results directly from negligence, it forms the basis for a claim.

Legal Elements of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice has specific legal elements that must be proven for a successful claim. Understanding these can help victims determine the strength and validity of their case.

Duty of Care

  1. Explanation of the Duty of Care
    Medical professionals have a duty of care to show to their patients. This means they’re expected to provide treatment in line with the medical community’s standards.
  2. Role of Healthcare Professionals
    Healthcare professionals, whether doctors, nurses, or therapists, are bound by this duty. They’re expected to act in a manner that other reasonably competent professionals in the same field would, under similar circumstances.

Breach of Duty

  1. What Constitutes a Breach of Duty
    A breach occurs when a medical professional fails to adhere to all accepted standards of care, resulting in negligence.
  2. Standard of Care
    The standard of care varies by the specific medical field and is based on what a reasonably competent professional would do. It serves as a benchmark against which the accused professional’s actions are measured.


  1. Establishing a Causal Connection
    It’s not enough to prove negligence; one must show that this negligence directly caused harm. Without this direct link, there’s no valid claim.
  2. Types of Causation (Direct, Proximate)
    Direct causation means the negligence directly led to the injury. Proximate causation involves situations where the injury resulted from a series of events triggered by the negligence.


  1. Types of Damages (Compensatory, Punitive)
    Compensatory damages intend to compensate the victim for losses like medical bills and lost wages. Punitive damages are rarer, designed to punish the negligent party for particularly reckless behavior.
  2. Calculating Damages
    Damages are calculated based on the gravity of injury, medical expenses, lost income, and other tangible and intangible losses. It’s often a complex process requiring expert input.

Legal Aspects of Medical Malpractice

Legal aspects of medical malpractice

A. Informed Consent

Patients have a right to be informed about procedures, potential risks, and alternatives. Without this information, any procedures can be considered a violation, even if performed flawlessly.

B. Statute of Limitations

There’s a limited timeframe within which one can file a malpractice claim. This varies by region but is essential to adhere to; otherwise, even valid claims might get dismissed. In Illinois, the statute of limitations is normally two years but can vary based on a number of factors. This is particularly true if a minor is involved.

C. Expert Witnesses

Given the technical nature of medical malpractice, expert witnesses often play a crucial role. They help establish the standard of care and whether there was a breach.

D. Role of Attorneys

Malpractice cases are complex. Attorneys navigate the legal maze and ensure victims get the compensation they deserve.

E. Settlements vs. Trials

A large number of medical malpractice cases are settled outside of court. However, if both parties can’t agree, the case might proceed to trial.

What Your Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Do for You

Navigating a medical malpractice claim can be daunting, but a specialized lawyer can be invaluable. They can:

  • Guide Through Legal Complexities
    Medical malpractice claims involve intricate laws and procedures. A lawyer ensures you understand these and adhere to all necessary protocols.
  • Build a Strong Case
    From gathering evidence to liaising with expert witnesses, an attorney strengthens your claim, ensuring all essential elements are addressed.
  • Negotiate on Your Behalf
    Insurance companies often aim to minimize payouts. A lawyer ensures you’re not shortchanged and that negotiations are in your best interest.
  • Advocate for You in Court
    If your case goes to trial, an attorney ensures your story gets heard, presenting it compellingly to seek justice.
  • Secure the Best Possible Outcome
    Whether through settlements or court verdicts, the ultimate aim is to get the best possible outcome for you, ensuring all evident and potential damages are addressed.

In essence, while the journey might be tough, with the right legal representation, you’re not alone. An attorney becomes your advocate, voice, and guide, ensuring your rights remain at the forefront.

Seek Legal Assistance With Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Conboy Law | Call Us Today!

Seek legal assistance with our medical malpractice lawyers at Conboy Law

At Conboy Law, our experienced team is dedicated to ensuring victims get the justice they deserve. We know the details and legal rules of medical malpractice claims. We can lean on that experience to guide you every step of the way.Don’t face this challenge alone. We’ll navigate the complexities with our expertise and commitment, aiming for the best possible outcome. Reach out to us today, and let’s embark on this journey toward justice and healing together.

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