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10 Things to Know about Malpractice Law



If you have suffered a medical injury as a result of doctor negligence, then you may have a legitimate medical malpractice claim on your hands. Before filing a medical lawsuit, however, you should have at least a basic understanding of malpractice law.

Number 1: Understanding Medical Negligence

Medical negligence is an essential part of malpractice law. To have a legitimate medical malpractice case, you need to be able to show that a health care provider's negligence caused your injuries.

However, just because a doctor commits an error, such as a misdiagnosis, does not mean medical negligence has occurred. Rather, the medical professional must breach what is known as a standard of care in order for his or her actions to constitute negligence.

Number 2: Understand the Standard of Care

A standard of care is the standard by which a medical professional is expected to treat a particular patient. This standard varies depending on a number of factors including the patient's age, the specific medical condition, and sometimes even the patient's geographic location.

If a medical professional violates this standard of care, then he or she may have committed negligence according to malpractice law.

Number 3: Understand Causation

Besides proving that the medical provider's actions were negligent, you must also prove that these actions are what caused your injury. This is what is known as causation, and it is an essential part of every medical malpractice case.

Number 4: You May Be Able to Sue the Hospital

If you have been injured by a hospital's negligent actions, then you may be able to sue for hospital malpractice.

A hospital may be considered negligent for a number of reasons including:

  • Losing patient records
  • Not adequately staffing the facility
  • Failing to ensure that staff is adequately trained and educated

Number 5: A Misdiagnosis Can Be a Cause of Action for Malpractice

A misdiagnosis does not automatically mean your doctor has committed malpractice. Malpractice only occurs if the doctor's actions breached the standard of care.

Number 6: The Timeframe to File a Malpractice Claim Varies

Medical malpractice law varies from state to state. This means that the statute of limitations (or time limit to file a lawsuit) for such cases also varies. However, patients generally have two years to file suit.

Number 7: Your Medical Records Are Private

Not just anyone can access your medical records. A federal law known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) ensures that your medical records are kept private from most parties.

Number 8: You Can Allow Your Lawyer Access to Your Medical Records

After you have found a medical malpractice attorney to represent you, you will probably want to grant him access to your private medical records.

Your attorney should have the proper release forms on file that you must sign in order to grant access to these records.

Number 9: You Should Request Several Types of Medical Records

Although the types of records you will need to request from your health care providers will vary depending on the specifics of your case, in general you will want to request the following types of records:

  • Test results and evaluations
  • X-Ray/MRI films and reports
  • Prescription records
  • Vaccination records
  • Billing statements and receipts
  • Hospital in-patient treatment records
  • Discharge records
  • Emergency room records
  • Therapy records

Number 10: Under Malpractice Law You Can Receive Several Types of Damages

If you can prove your malpractice claim, then you may be entitled to such damages-or money-as compensation for medical bills, compensation for lost wages due to your injuries, and pain and suffering. You may also be entitled to collect for future medical costs and lost wages.