Medical malpractice refers to any case where a doctor or other medical professional engages in negligent or reckless conduct that results in harm to a patient. This harm can be a result of something they did to the patient, such as performing the wrong surgery on a patient, or it can be a result of carelessness, such as misdiagnosing or failing to diagnose an ailment in a timely fashion. Here are a few common issues that arise in medical malpractice cases.
Did they really do anything wrong?
There is a difference between making a mistake and being negligent or reckless. That’s why, when a malpractice case is brought, the conduct of the medical professional (or professionals) will be compared to what is known as the “reasonable person” standard. In other words, would a reasonable person in that situation, with the same training and experience, have engaged in the same conduct? If not, the medical professional(s) may be in legal jeopardy.
Whose fault is it?
These days, medical practice doesn’t involve just one doctor treating a patient. Doctor’s offices often have nurses or nurse practitioners, secretaries, and even laboratory technicians on staff. Hospitals may have entire teams of doctors and their staffs handling their more complex cases. While this is a necessity of modern medicine, it does mean that simply figuring out who, if anyone, acted negligently in a medical malpractice case can be quite difficult.
How much harm was done?
The problem with determining harm in medical malpractice cases is that, most of the time, people who go to the doctor are already in ill health. This particularly becomes an issue with chronic conditions or ones whose harm occurs over a prolonged period, like multiple sclerosis, ALS or cancer. Again, the question often comes down to whether the medical professional acted in a reasonable and responsible way, and whether the medical professional knew, or should have known, that something was amiss.
How much is the patient owed?
Even once you’ve determined how much harm the medical professional did, determining how much they owe can be a battle in and of itself. For example, if a doctor fails to diagnose a cancer early on, when it has a 65% chance of survival, and as a result the patient only gets diagnosed when it has advanced to a stage with a 35% chance of survival, what is the doctor responsible for? It’s a complicated question that can vary from case to case, and is often one of the major sticking points in a malpractice case, even when the other facts are generally agreed upon.
If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, you’ll need skilled legal representation to assist you. The lawyers at Levine and Slavit, PLLC are experienced in representing New York City and Long Island residents in medical malpractice and wrongful death matters. To schedule a free consultation, contact our New York City medical malpractice lawyers at (212) 687-2777 or for our Long Island lawyers call (516) 294-8282