Administrators often ask: "What is Medical Malpractice?" Even more, MDs always carry medical malpractice insurance, but their staff may misunderstand it.
Understanding "medmal" can help staff avoid falling in the trap. Also, it eases insurance coverage decisions. Here's what it's all about.
All About Medmal
Healthcare professionals sometimes cause injury to patients, through neglect or oversight. When that happens, negligence makes them susceptible to lawsuits. Medical doctors, hence, can suffer grave consequences by erring.
Examples of Negligence in Healthcare
Negligence can take many forms. Here are some examples of medical negligence that might lead to a lawsuit:
Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis
Misreading or ignoring laboratory results
Surgical errors or wrong-site surgery
Improper medication, dosage, or treatment
Poor follow-up or aftercare
Disregarding or misreporting patient history
Failure to order proper testing
Not recognizing symptoms
Retaining patients needing higher-level trauma care
Significant Injurious Negligence = Medmal
Only beyond certain thresholds may patients challenge professional accountability for medmal.
Standard of Care Negligence
First, clinics and their employees use accepted medical treatments to mitigate health issues. Diagnoses and treatments must not violate this standard of care. Established by medical professionals, violation of the standard is negligence.
But, practices sometimes fail to meet the standard of care. When this happens, a patient may claim negligence.
Negligence Caused Injury to the Patient
Second, not all negligence results in injury to patients. Often, an accusing patient cannot prove injury by an institution or its staff. Only for demonstrable injuries, thus, can a patient file a lawsuit.
Negligence Resulted in Significant Damage
Both medics and patients must understand the economic consequences of medmal. First, these cases generally need expensive expert and forensic testimony. Added to legal documentation and processes fees, cost rules out minor claims.
"Ongoing expenses to prepare and mount a medical malpractice case average around $20,000-$50,000, but in complicated situations ... can be $50,000-$100,000 and up."
Thus, qualified claims only arise from substantial injuries. Only proven significant disability, income loss, pain, suffering, hardship, or medical bills hold up in court. So, even the possibility of facing the smallest allowable means that insurance neglect is not an option.
Who Can Patients Hold Accountable for Medmal?
Patients also sue clinics, hospitals, urgent care centers, and medical practices and institutions. So, healthcare professionals and corporations both stand at risk for claims.
Medical Doctors & Medmal
Physicians, dentists, and other types of MDs get hit with medmal claims. These professions all involve diagnosing, preventing, or treating diseases or disorders. So, it stands to reason that insurance brokers carry medical malpractice insurance specifically to fit their needs.
As an example, an MD might fail to diagnose skin cancer. Of course, any medical doctor would observe advanced and extensive cancer. The doctor who thus failed to diagnose it committed medmal. So, the patient could seek economic and non-economic damages through a lawsuit.
Patients in some states can sue a nurse for nursing malpractice, a type of medmal. Elsewhere, the standard of practice liability, instead, falls on doctors and institutions.
Nurses interface each MD to her patients. Failure to perform nursing duties can provoke a medmal risk. So, administering incorrect medicine can constitute nursing malpractice. Inaction in the face of patient needs constitutes neglect too.
Pharmacists also lay wide open to high risk legal medical errors. Pharmacy practice errors include failure to ...
correctly fill a prescription
verify medication safety with the prescribing doctor
detect and mitigate potentially:
harmful drug interactions
drug appropriateness to patient medical history
warn a patient of possible side effects
Negligence in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Facilities
Negligent institutional policy or procedural execution exposes healthcare businesses to corporate errors. Although, some states do not hold nurses and medical technicians accountable for negligence. In any healthcare facility, incompetent staff members pose serious institutional legal liability risk.
Not all Healthcare Negligence Constitutes Medical Malpractice
Non-medical personal injury can occur in clinics, care centers, and other medical practices. These claims, though, constitute a very different type of violation.
Food poisoning from a hospital cafeteria, for example, falls under general liability claims. So, the law does not mark them as medical malpractice material. Injuries incurred from unsafe walkways or parking lots fit in this category too.
Learning More About Medical Malpractice
Obviously, the potential costs of malpractice defense make medmal insurance a must. A well-fitted policy, though, can strike a balance between risks and premium price. A trustworthy insurance broker can leverage competing policy options and cover your practice.