Medical Risks vs. Malpractice: What Is the Difference?
You often hear of tragic medical outcomes that may leave the patient seriously injured or even take their life. While medical treatments have made incredible advancements, there are always possible complications or risks with many procedures. When a patient has a poor outcome from a medical treatment, it is not always due to errors. Certain risks do come with most medical procedures, which is why not all poor outcomes are medical malpractice claims.
When you hear of medical malpractice lawsuits, they are often headline-worthy. Surgical errors, nursing home neglect and prescription errors can land on the news, especially when they result in death or serious harm. However, just because someone is injured or has a poor result from a medical treatment, does not mean that they can sue for medical malpractice. There is a distinct difference between medical risks/complications and medical malpractice.
Surgery, medications and most medical treatments can come with risks. When you receive a prescription from your doctor or even take over-the-counter medications, there is usually a long list of possible side effects on the label or accompanying paperwork. The same is true for most medical procedures – patients should be made aware of any possible complications or risks with a treatment to make an informed decision.
Most people understand that surgery comes with risks. Anyone can have an adverse reaction to anesthesia, and there are always risks associated with any surgery. Surgeons, doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists and other medical professionals have a responsibility to minimize risks, but not all complications can be avoided. Even when a patient is seriously harmed or loses their life, it is not always due to any error on the part of the medical team.
The definition of medical malpractice from a legal and liability standpoint revolves around negligence of a medical professional. While there are medical risk factors with most treatments, these should be reduced, not increased, by the medical professional. Doctors, dentists, nurses and other medical professionals are expected to adhere to specific standards of care for their patient. If a patient is harmed due to negligent, improper or unskilled medical care, this could be a claim for medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice is one of the more complex areas of personal liability law. It must be proven that a patient was harmed due to medical negligence, which can be very difficult after the fact. There are also gray areas where negligence and medical errors overlap medical risks – if a medical error increased the risk of harm, it may still be malpractice, even if the risk was acknowledged by the patient.
When to Call a Medical Malpractice Attorney
It can be devastating to lose a loved one who was under the care of a medical professional, or to have long-term consequences from a medical treatment gone wrong. It can be difficult to know whether harm occurred due to routine medical risks or because of a medical error. It is unlikely that a medical professional will admit they made an error and caused a death or injury – that is why you need to discuss your case with a seasoned personal injury attorney.
If you have experienced an injury or lost a loved one due to a medical procedure or under any type of medical care, contact our team at the Law Office of Dwayne L. Brown. We have offices in Montgomery, AL and Atlanta, GA for your convenience. Our legal team will listen to your story and offer advice on whether you may have a medical practice claim. The consultation is free and you will never pay a dime to us unless we pursue and win your case.
Posted on Behalf of Law Office of Dwayne L. Brown
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