Medical malpractice

Medical malpractice is a wide legal category that includes any injury that occurs to a patient because of the negligence or carelessness of a doctor, nurse, psychologist or any other medical professional. Any medical professional who provides inadequate health care and/or fails to perform his or her duties according to appropriate medical practices or standards of care in the medical community, commits medical malpractice. Medical malpractice injuries can take many forms, including the misdiagnosis of disease or condition, failure to notify the patient of inherent risk with a certain procedure or drug, prescribing the wrong drug or dosage, or negligently performing a procedure.

Nurses, surgeons, physicians, pharmacists, health care technicians, hospitals, managed care organizations such as Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) all may be held liable for any personal injuries involving medical malpractice.

When negligence results in injury, a medical malpractice cases may be brought against the hospital, clinic or any entity or person with whom there is a medical care provider/patient relationship. Legal actions can be taken for compensation when medical malpractice occurs. Patients take legal action in cases where the doctor’s actions deviate from general accepted standards of practice. Other legal actions are taken because of improper hospital care or inadequate training, such as problems with medications or sanitation. Also, patient may take legal action against the state, local or federal agencies that operate hospital facilities.

Medical malpractice is determined by laws and these laws are designed to protect the patients’ right to seek compensation if they are injured as result of negligence. However, some medical malpractice lawsuits are often complex and costly to win. Medical malpractice actions are tremendously difficult to pursue. The insurance companies have to pay out claims on behalf of the physicians and other medical professionals or the medical care facilities they represent and they aggressively defend the clients and institutions they cover from legal claims.

Roughly three percent of all hospital patients are victims of medical mistakes. According to a 1999 U.S. Healthcare Industry Survey, it is estimated that around 44,000 to 98,000 patients die each year because of medical errors. Of that number, 7,000 patients die because of prescription errors or drug dispensing errors. A 2006 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine stated that claims without evidence of error “are not uncommon, but most, about seventy-two percent are denied compensation. The majority of the expenditure, about fifty-four percent, is applied toward the legal action taken because of the error. The operating costs of malpractice litigation are very expensive. Physicians examined the records of 1452 closed malpractice claims. Ninety-seven percent were linked with medical injury, of those seventy-three percent got compensation.

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