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MAIN Arrow to Home Life Home Legal Guide Arrow to Personal Injury Personal Injury Arrow to Medical Malpractice Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is any action taken by a doctor or other medical professional - i.e., a nurse, physician's assistant, surgical team member, or EMT worker - that results in personal injury or wrongful death.

Even the simplest treatment by medical professionals may result in profound ill-effects, such as administering a medication that the patient may be highly allergic to, or a mistaken diagnosis of a condition that later turns out to have required immediate care. For this reason, medical professionals are required to purchase liability insurance.

The high cost of medical malpractice

To offset the costs of malpractice suits brought by the legal profession, malpractice insurance has only become more costly.

These costs, argue critics, are in turn passed onto the patient to compound the high price of modern health care. brought about by "ambulance chasers" (or lawyers too quick to file a malpractice suit on behalf of clients.) Meanwhile, others counter that medical professionals CAN and often DO make mistakes in treatment, so they must be held accountable for any injuries - or worse - that arise from their own negligence.

Examples of medical malpractice

Although by no means an exhaustive list, the following are examples of why medical malpractice suits are typically filed:

  • Negligently performed surgery

  • Negligently administered anesthesia

  • Negligently administered drugs or medications

  • Birth trauma

  • Brain injury

  • Paralysis

  • Delayed cancer diagnosis

  • Misdiagnosis

Going to trial

negligently administered drugs, one example of medical malpractice
Examples of medical malpractice
range from mistaken medications to botched surgery or misdiagnosis.

Like many tort cases medical malpractice trials involve the defendant (in this case, the health care provider) and the plaintiff - which may be the patient, or the administrator of a deceased patient's estate in the event of wrongful death.

Unlike typical tort cases, malpractice suits are some of the most arduous and time consuming of any and may involve not only the doctor or surgeon, but also charges brought against attending nurses and assistants or even the entire hospital.

The burden of proof lies squarely with the patient filing the suit and often involves a lengthy discovery process with requests for documents and depositions, followed by a possible long list of witnesses, including medical experts called to testify about standard care and medical practices before a court judge and jury.

If the evidence is compelling enough, both sides may decide to settle out of court for a sum decided upon by the opposing lawyers.

If the trial continues, the jury may decide for either party - both of whom may contest the findings and ask for a new trial that may drag on for additional months or years.

For this reason alone, it's wise to first consider if you have a strong enough case before going to trial, and to carefully investigate the professional expertise and credentials of a personal injury lawyer before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

More about medical malpractice around the Web:


Medical malpractice - Wikipedia - A definition of medical malpractice with an overview of U.S. law with facts & information on trial cases, current criticisms and controversies, related statistics, plus an extensive list of references and resources.

Examples of Medical Malpractice - When to sue in cases involving anesthesia, drug reaction, birth & delivery, heart surgery, misdiagnosis, and other typical examples.

Medical Malpractice Law and Litigation - Broad discussion on when a malpractice case may be necessary, the pros and cons of filing a suit, questions to ask a personal injury lawyer, with related resources.

Findlaw - Medical Malpractice - Detailed facts and information on malpractice law basics, an explanation of "actionable" cases, discussions on failed diagnoses and substandard care, malpractice tort reform, related FAQ and resources.

Medicine and Law - Medical Malpractice Topic Area - A virtual library of research and information including examples of strong malpractice cases, advice on direct exams of medical experts, trial errors to avoid, and related professional tips & advice for personal injury lawyers.


The information provided on these pages is intended as reference
only and does not constitute professional legal advice.

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