Medical professionals like doctors have life-and-death decision-making authority over others. The doctor providing your care could save your life with a quick decision or could put your health at risk with a major mistake or oversight. You need the professionals providing your care to competently determine a diagnosis and administer the appropriate treatment in a safe manner.
While you want to trust your doctor, you also need to recognize that medical professionals are humans who have bad days, overlook important information and make mistakes when providing health care and diagnostic support to their patients. The bigger the mistake, the more likely it is to affect your health and cost you money.
Any medical mistake can have negative consequences for the patient involved, but only some medical mistakes give the affected parties the option of asking for compensation. When you can show that a doctor’s behavior was negligent, you may be able to ask for compensation based on medical malpractice. When does a simple medical mistake become an act of medical malpractice due to negligence?
What would another reasonable professional do?
To determine if a mistake is just an unfortunate accident or true malpractice, you need to explore what another professional with a similar education would do in the same situation. To do so, you will usually need to obtain copies of your medical records and make an appointment with a medical professional in the same field who doesn’t work for the same hospital or corporate practice.
The general approach of medical professionals in a similar situation will determine if you have grounds for a malpractice claim. If most medical professionals would agree that the doctor providing your care made the right decision given the information that they had or the unusual circumstances, then the mistake may not constitute negligence and therefore may not lead to a viable medical malpractice claim.
However, if other professionals in the same area of medicine agree that the physician providing your care didn’t order the right tests or reached a questionable conclusion given the circumstances, you may be able to file a medical malpractice insurance claim or possibly even a civil lawsuit. You could potentially receive a settlement from an insurance provider or even secure compensation for your medical expenses and injuries in civil court.
Understanding what constitutes medical malpractice can help you hold a doctor accountable after you receive substandard medical care.