Hospital and Medical Malpractice

by admin on August 26, 2010

Hospital malpractice is defined as “Any physical injury to a patient, negligence or malpractice that takes place in a hospital. Hospital malpractice can be the result of the negligence of any physician, pharmacists, hospital staff member, nurses, and hospital technicians.” Medical malpractice is as a similar term, in that it is defined as “Improper, unskilled, or negligent treatment of a patient by a physician, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care professional.” One takes place in a hospital, and the other is based on the negligence itself.

Accusations of malpractice have been controversial and a growing issue since the 1970s. Physicians feel there are too many malpractice suits being litigated, and in that, have urged legal reforms to curb large damage awards. Tort attorneys have argued that negligence suits are an effective way of compensating victims of negligence, as well as policing the medical profession.

How does one prove they have been a victim of medical malpractice? To have a case, one must prove four elements: (1) a duty of care was owed by the physician; (2) the physician violated the applicable standard of care; (3) the person suffered a compensable injury; and (4) the injury was caused, or proximately caused, by the substandard conduct. The burden of proving these elements is on the plaintiff in a malpractice lawsuit.

The same elements are applied for hospital malpractice. One has to prove that the hospital staff engaged in incorrect or negligent treatment which in turn caused suffering or emotional, physical or financial harm as a result. For this specific type of malpractice to occur, the care provided by a hospital staff member has to be proven that it was not within the reasonable standards of other professionals practicing in the same manner.  

Hospital malpractice generally  includes these elements:

Mistaken Diagnosis:  When a diagnosis is wrongfully determined it may prolong the time to necessary treatment for the correct diagnosis. Additional physical harm may also occur because of faulty recommendations for an incorrect diagnosis. This could create more pain, suffering, or emotional distress.

Failure to Treat a Patient:  All patients must be treated in a timely and a professionally correct manner upon entering a physician or hospital environment if a hospital fails to treat a patient, they could be held liable in the court of law.

Improper Use of Medical Equipment:  If medical equipment is used incorrectly by any staff or personnel employed within a hospital, this could be cause of hospital malpractice.  If the improper use further injures a patient, or does not correct the problem as per the staff’s belief, additional medical injury could occur as a result.

Over ninety thousand patients die each year due to medical error and/or hospital malpractice.  In 2001, The Bureau of Justice Statistics published a  report that cited 1,156 medical malpractice suits were litigated in the 75 most populous counties. Nine out of ten of the cases involved a patient who was permanently disabled or had died as a result of negligent medical care. And yet, the win rate in medical malpractice cases was 27%, significantly lower than the 52% average in tort cases. However, the median damage award of $425,000 was much higher than the average tort award of $27,000. It is important to note that these are only the cases that went to trial, and does not include cases settled out of court.

Not every failure of treatment or of a procedure is malpractice. Often doctors and hospital staff can prove that they did everything they could for a patient and that the patient still suffered pain or died.

About the Author:
Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides a <a rel=”nofollow” onclick=”javascript:_gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’, ‘/outgoing/article_exit_link’]);” target=”_blank” href=””>lawsuit funding </a>to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit:
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