If you have recently suffered physical harm – either injury or illness – that could have possibly been caused, aggravated or escalated by inadequate patient care, you may be a victim of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when individual healthcare providers and/or facilities fail to respond to a patient’s situation in ways that reasonably competent providers facing similar circumstances would.
You may have – understandably – had to read that last sentence a few times. There is no question that this area of law is complex and that it is very situation-specific. With the exception of so-called “never events” – which are so egregious that it is immediately obvious that they never should have happened – identifying medical malpractice is often very difficult.
Physicians and other healthcare professionals are understandably concerned about liability. Therefore, they don’t always admit when a problem occurs. Additionally, many providers aren’t even aware that something is amiss until a patient begins to suffer consequences as a result of subpar care.
It isn’t always easy to know whether a complication, the development of an infection, the aggravation of a condition or the development of new or escalating symptoms could have been prevented had a patient’s care team only taken better care of them. With that being said, the staggering rate of medical errors and other forms of medical negligence that occur in the U.S. every year should serve as a frame of reference when a patient is questioning whether they are a victim of malpractice.
Understanding that medical malpractice occurs on a regular basis – often resulting in serious and even catastrophic consequences – can empower patients to think critically about their care. When it seems as if harm can conceivably be traced back to a provider’s approach to patient care, it is certainly possible that actionable medical malpractice has occurred.