Medical malpractice laws are fairly straightforward. There are a few variations from state to state. If you are unsure as to what constitutes medical malpractice, or if there are any unusual laws in your state, the following should help.
The Basic Tenets of Medical Malpractice Suits
More often than not, you have a medical malpractice suit if you can prove that your doctor or surgeon caused you more pain, suffering, or injury under his/her care. The doctrine extends to all licensed health care providers who do know (or should know) what they are doing and that what they are doing may cause greater harm. Negligence is the base complaint of medical malpractice, but there are cases where accidental harm was caused and then ruled as medical malpractice.
Essentially, if the medical professional:
- Was unprofessional in his/her conduct (e.g., operated while under the influence of drugs or alcohol)
- Was unprofessional in his/her commentary (e.g., commenting rudely or inappropriately about a patient when the patient was in the room and in a vulnerable state)
- Caused loss of use of a limb or part of the body by slicing through nerves and body tissues carelessly
- Fractured the spine, skull, or neck during treatment, thus leaving you paralyzed or brain-damaged when you were not before
- Left surgical instruments or personal items (e.g., rings, jewelry, etc.) inside you, thus causing serious and life-threatening infections
- Gave care that was substandard or not up to your expectations
Then you have a malpractice case.
Variations in Other States
Other states, like New York and California, also carry medical malpractice over to midwives and home births, signing informed consent forms but then coercing or threatening you into treatments you would not normally agree to, and having several medical interns probe your genitals in a medical training hospital or clinic.
These situations also violate your rights to privacy and the standard of professional care you would expect. Since you do not expect to see (or feel) the hands or fingers of several doctors on you or the failure of a midwife to deliver a healthy baby, you can sue for these situations too.
Medical malpractice attorney services exist in every major city and state, and there is at least one lawyer practicing this branch of law in every county. It is important that you seek legal help right away if your case meets any of the above criteria. If other violations of your body or health have occurred, you should definitely seek legal help as any evidence that could be collected may disappear.