Doctor Errors, Bad Outcomes, and Medical Malpractice

Doctor Errors, Bad Outcomes, and Medical Malpractice

A bad outcome to a medical procedure is the last thing anyone plans on when going to the doctor.  After all, you go to the doctor to be healed. It is possible, however, that despite a doctor’s best efforts you won’t get better. If a doctor does the best job he or she can do and follows the standard of care (the rules for doctors), then a bad outcome is just that, a bad outcome. On the other hand, if the doctor fails to follow the standard of care and doctor errors lead to the bad outcome, that may be a case of medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice cases almost always result from a bad medical outcome, sometimes a serious injury or death. It can be easy to jump to the conclusion that a negative medical outcome is medical malpractice, and while there is definitely some overlap, they are not the same thing.  A negative outcome from any medical procedure, especially when it is unexpected, should be looked into to make sure that doctor errors or medical malpractice were not factors.

One of the most important considerations is whether the physician met the expected standard of care. The standard of care is a guideline for doctors.  It is what any doctor in a similar situation would be reasonably expected to know and do to help a patient. It can be difficult to understand how the standard of care is applied because it is not the same from one situation to the next.  However, there are some major factors that need to be considered:

  • What they have been trained to do, what type of medicine do they practice and/or specialize in?
  • What would a doctor with similar training and specialty have done?
  • Was the care being provided emergency or elective care?
  • What facilities and equipment were available at the time of care?

Once a doctor-patient relationship has been established, a doctor is responsible for meeting the standard of care. That doctor should give you the care and treatment that is consistent with what any other competent physician under the same or similar circumstances would give.  The treatments and method of diagnosis may differ, but the doctor must deliver the level of care that other physicians with similar skills, training and certification would most likely give if they had treated you under the same circumstances.

Sometimes, despite the fact that a doctor does everything right a patient may suffer an adverse event, injury, or negative medical outcome. Those are tragic cases, but they are not medical malpractice.  Good medical malpractice lawyers or law firms will help you understand the difference.  Their experience in medicine and the practice of medical malpractice law will help you understand what happened and if you have a case you can pursue.