What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice?

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the United States, following only heart disease and cancer. In 2012, more than $3 billion, averaging one payout every 43 minutes, was spent on medical malpractice payouts. Despite those alarming statistics, not every negative outcome after treatment qualifies for medical malpractice. It is crucial to understand when you may be the victim of medical malpractice and when you may not, injury attorneys Las Vegas explain.


Failure to Follow the Medical Standard of Care

One of the first standards for proving medical malpractice, according to personal injury attorneys Las Vegas residents trust, is that a medical professional did not follow a medical standard of care. Medical providers are not perfect, and they can make mistakes. When the mistake is made because the provider did not follow a medical standard of care, which means they did not act as another medical professional with similar training would have acted, you may be the victim of medical malpractice. For example, if a doctor failed to diagnose a harmful condition, failed to warn you of the risks of a particular treatment, or made unacceptable errors during treatment, they may be guilty of medical malpractice.


Acting Recklessly

Although it is uncommon, your healthcare provider may have acted recklessly. A doctor who performs surgery while under the influence of drugs or alcohol would be considered reckless, injury attorneys Las Vegas say. A nurse could administer a lethal dose of medication because they misread the doctor’s orders. To prove that a medical provider was reckless, you need to show that the error was beyond the medical standard of care. For instance, if the nurse administered the lethal dose of medication because the doctor wrote the incorrect information on the chart, the nurse did not act recklessly.


The Four D’s of Medical Malpractice

Injury attorneys Las Vegas explain that to prove medical malpractice, there are “four D’s” that must be met. These include:

  • Duty
  • Dereliction
  • Damages
  • Direct Cause

Each of these four elements must be proven for an injury to be considered medical malpractice. Duty means that the medical professional must follow specific protocols and be competent in the care of a patient. If a doctor feels they cannot address a medical problem, they have to refer the patient to a specialist. The deviation is when the healthcare provider deviates from that duty of care. Prescribing incorrect information, misdiagnosing, or diagnosing an illness beyond treatment are all examples dereliction. Next, you must have suffered damages as a result of the dereliction of duty. The dereliction of duty must have caused damage to the patient, whether it was a serious side effect, an additional medical condition caused by a late diagnosis, or the inability to cure an illness because it was diagnosed too late. Finally, the damages must have been directly caused by the actions of the healthcare provider.

If you or a loved one have been injured and you feel that the injury was related to medical malpractice, contact the personal injury attorneys Las Vegas, The Schnitzer Law Firm. You can arrange for a no-obligation appointment by calling 702-960-4050, emailing contact@theschnitzerlawfirm.com, or fill out the secure online form.