Medical malpractice law steps in when a doctor or other medical practitioner has been accused of acting negligently during treatment of a medical condition. Legitimate medical malpractice can happen because of something the doctor did, or because he or she didn't take appropriate action. Medical malpractice may take a variety of forms.
The doctor in question may have delayed treatment of a medical condition that had already been diagnosed; he or she may have failed to provide the appropriate treatment for a specific medical condition; or the doctor may have failed to properly diagnose a medical condition. With differing state malpractice laws, the procedure and laws governing lawsuits will vary from one state to the next so it is important that both patient and doctor understand the laws of the specific state in which the doctor is practicing. However, if the doctor does make a mistake, but there is not medical harm or death as a result, the patient will not be eligible for compensation of damages.
Yet another segment of medical malpractice law has to do with the subject of informed consent. A patient must give informed consent to a medical procedure in order to have it done. This means that he or she knows all of the dangers and benefits of the procedure, and consents to any risks taken. When the informed consent is not properly obtained, the doctor can be said to have performed medical malpractice even if the patient is not actually harmed by the procedure. In addition, the changing environment of medical care makes malpractice law ever more important. Medicine has become a business of profit, and to this end, physicians are under greater and greater pressure to make fast diagnoses and to be as efficient as possible.
This opens the door for physician error. This evolving environment of the medical industry has presented issues with the relationship between patients and their doctors. They spend less and less time together which can potentially compromise the communication that is imperative to an accurate diagnosis. This includes the time required to obtain a thorough patient history and is detailed enough to effectively diagnose the problem.
In the rush to get one patient out so the doctor can move on to the next, the chances for misdiagnosis or failure to identify key symptoms increase. Medical malpractice law takes on an even greater role because it not only improves patient care, but also protects doctors who from erroneous or frivolous lawsuits. While medical malpractice law protects doctors and healthcare professionals from frivolous or unfounded lawsuits, they do still occur. While the actual numbers for frivolous lawsuits are unknown due to insurance companies choosing to settle claims out of court, it is estimated that anywhere from 25% to as much as 50% of medical malpractice lawsuits that are filed and are determined to be frivolous are still paid. This is one drawback to allowing claims to be settled out of court; there is no checks and balances system. This action has led some doctors to counter sue patients whom they believe to have filed an unfounded or frivolous lawsuit.
It is very important that doctors carry medical malpractice insurance in order to protect themselves from lawsuits, regardless of whether the suit is valid or not. Even the most vigilant of doctors can have medical malpractice claims filed against them resulting in lawsuits. Doctors who have been sued should immediately contact their insurance company. They have an arsenal of resources to help fight medical malpractice lawsuits should they be found to be invalid. There is some controversy surrounding medical malpractice. Some allege that it is ineffective because patients who have been injured by malpractice as well as physicians who are innocent of the claims can be victimized.
It is widely regarded by experts that a new system that is more efficient and fair should be put in place as opposed to the current scenario of attorneys on both sides battling it out and all profiting regardless of the outcome. Both the patient's and the doctor's rights need to be taking into consideration and it should be a priority. The current system simply does not work. With one attorney vying against another with the simple goal to "win," the focus is shifted from what is fair and this is often cited as the problem with the medical malpractice system.
Perhaps it is time for a change.
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