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You might have come across the term, “medical malpractice” at one point. Usually, it involves a hospital mishap, such as a wrong procedure done on a patient, leading to more injuries. There are horrifying stories of medical items or even tools left inside the patient post-surgery, causing infection and much pain and suffering. Some accounts relay wrong treatments conducted on patients, leading to more illnesses. But these stories are not just urban legends. Medical malpractice is very much a real incident, and it happens a lot in the United States, as any Houston medical malpractice lawyer would tell you.

Just how frequent? We’re looking at thousands of cases annually. A study from Medical News Today reveals that there are roughly 15,000 to 19,000 reported medical malpractice cases filed against healthcare professionals every year. That seems too high of a number for innocent individuals suffering more injuries after going to the doctor. The worst cases even lead to permanent disability and other catastrophic injuries, or even wrongful death.


Medical Malpractice: What is it really?


But what is medical malpractice? Does a simple mistake automatically make an incident a medical malpractice case? While it is true that medical malpractice could involve errors made by a doctor or other healthcare professional, it is not as simple as that.

Medical malpractice involves a doctor’s failure to meet the standard of care that any reasonable physician who has the same training and experience would do in a given situation. That failure to meet the standard of care could involve a lot of things. It could either be misdiagnosing a patient. Or giving the wrong treatment to the patient, and erroneously performing a medical procedure on a patient. And it could also be neglecting to treat the patient at all. If any of these actions cause the patient to suffer more injuries (such as getting more sick or even permanently disabled) or even lead to the patient’s wrongful death. Then you might have a medical malpractice case.

No doubt, being a victim of medical malpractice not only results in immense physical pain. But it also includes the burden of shouldering huge financial expenses as well. After all, you would need to receive treatment to reverse the negative effects of the incorrect procedure, diagnosis, or medication. This could mean more lost days at work. And having lost wages while you have mounting medical bills could put a lot of strain on your mental and emotional well-being.


Challenging Medical Malpractice Cases


Medical malpractice cases can be challenging, which is why you need the help of an established medical malpractice attorney to represent your case. A medical malpractice lawyer has extensive knowledge of the legal elements needed to support your claims. Your attorney is also well-versed in the requirements and other procedures that are related to your case. In addition, your medical malpractice attorney knows a wide range of experts who could testify on your behalf. Expert testimonies are very important in a medical malpractice case, due to the technical nature of the incident.

At the same time, the hospital has a legal team at its disposal, whose goal is to invalidate the victim’s claims. This is where hiring the best medical malpractice lawyer comes into play. Do not add to your emotional distress by worrying about your case. Let an experienced professional handle and win your medical malpractice case for you. So you can attain justice and get properly compensated for your trouble.



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Atty. Roxell Richards, personal injury attorney from Houston, TX

Certainly, going through the experience of medical malpractice is indeed a traumatic event. Also, aside from dealing with the trauma, you need to face realities such as physically recovering from any injuries or afflictions caused by the malpractice. And then, you also have to deal with real-world problems. For example, paying for the bills that are stacking up–whether it’s for your medical treatments or repairs.


But in reality, not everyone has enough money to be able to deal with the effects of medical malpractice. And this is without processing their claims with their insurance company. Also, another sad fact of the reality is that dealing with insurance companies can be a burden, as well. In fact, the process of reimbursing victims for their losses with your insurance can be tedious with complications.


Also, a great help with all these complications is hiring a good and experienced medical malpractice attorney. And you may think you don’t need one because you don’t expect to go to court, but representing you in court is not the only thing a medical malpractice attorney can do for you.

Furthermore, one of the major actions your medical malpractice attorney can do is negotiate with the insurance company. And whether it’s having discussions with your or the other driver’s insurance company, having someone knowledgeable about the medical malpractice law can help you get the right compensation for you. Also, having someone you can rely on to discuss legal matters lessens the additional pressure. And this also minimizes the anxiety of having to deal with matters you are not familiar with.


Nonetheless, as an attorney, he or she can represent you in court, should your medical malpractice case escalate to that. But, before that even happens, it’s better that you already hire a personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can help you with paperwork, negotiations, and court appearances.

What is medical malpractice?


Before we delve into the definition of medical malpractice per se, let us take a look first at how the idea of malpractice is framed by the law.

Cornell Law defines malpractice as a behavior that was committed by a professional who failed to give the proper treatment to his or her client. And this failure to meet existing standards of the professional’s responsibility toward the client has led to negative results. Because of that, the client sustains personal injuries.

And going by the definition mentioned above, medical malpractice occurs when medical professionals fail to properly perform their duties towards their patients. As a result, the patient receives injuries.


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What is considered medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice can be further divided into two categories. And the first one is an act by a medical professional that fails to meet existing standards of care for patients. While the second one is a lack of behavior that meets existing standards of care.

And so, let us take a look at two examples to illustrate the two. For example, suppose that you walk into a hospital to get treatment for persistent stomach pain. And then you consult with a doctor, who recommends that you take a particular set of pills as medication. Indeed, you take the prescription pills as prescribed.

But after a week, you notice that the pain is not gone. And instead, you notice additional symptoms, such as persistent chest palpitations, headache, and fatigue. Therefore, you go back to the hospital and see a different doctor. And it turns out that the previous doctor you saw gave you the wrong diagnosis and medication. This is an example of this kind of malpractice. And that’s when a medical professional acts and fails to meet the existing standard of treatment.

And now, let’s take a look at another example. But this time, you go to the hospital to get treatment for stomach pain. Also, your doctor runs some tests. Afterward, the doctor tells you that you are fine. And that stomach pain is a fairly common ailment that you just have to deal with. Finally, you have been prescribed some painkillers and sent them home.

But a couple of months later, you go back to the hospital because the stomach pain remains. In fact, it has gotten worse. And it turns out that you had stomach cancer, which easily reveals your lab test results. But the doctor you went to for stomach pain was aware of this. And yet refuses to give the proper care and treatment that you deserve as a patient. In summary, this is an example of medical malpractice. But this time, there was an act of omission: the medical professional did not give you proper treatment. And this is even when existing standards of care demand that you get one.

What constitutes medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice cases involve either medical professionals who were either acting wrongfully or failing to properly act (ignoring a patient or not giving treatment despite existing medical standards) at all towards their patient.

And these failures constitute medical errors. In fact, Medical News Today outlines these errors into several categories.

Also, medical errors can present themselves in a variety of ways. And one type of error could be giving the wrong diagnosis to a patient. For example, if a victim of a car accident suffering from whiplash injuries was not properly diagnosed for whiplash. And then further suffered injuries as a result, then that patient could file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Also, another type of medical error would be prescribing the wrong medication or giving the incorrect dosage to a patient. For example, if a victim of a dog bite received the wrong vaccine dosage for anti-rabies treatment. And another example would be if a child injury victim is given medication that is meant for adults and not for children.

Another example of a medical error would be failing to order the correct laboratory tests to confirm a patient’s diagnosis. Also, failing to properly act on the laboratory test results. And this was illustrated in the second scenario that we cited wherein the lab test results of the patient revealed that the person has cancer. In fact, this information was readily available to the doctor. But did not disclose the ailment to the patient and did not recommend treatment options as well.

Also, there are medical errors in surgical issues. And these could include failure to conduct the correct surgical procedure on the patient, operating on the wrong body organ, or negligently leaving things inside the patient’s body. For example, a victim of a construction accident receives an incorrect surgical procedure. As a result, the victim is unable to work because of the injuries and that person could sue for medical malpractice.

All of these medical errors lead to pain or further complications, causing the patient physical and personal injuries. As such, these errors could also be considered as medical malpractice.

How common is medical malpractice?

Stories about medical malpractice seem downright horrifying. You might even wonder if these things actually happen when we are already living in the 21st century. Sadly, medical malpractice does exist. In fact, it might be even more common than you think.

A John Hopkins study conducted in 2016 reports that medical malpractice is the “third leading cause of death” in the United States of America. According to the said research, more than 250,000 fatalities are from medical malpractice each year. The number of these wrongful deaths is way much higher than those who pass away from respiratory disease. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention ranks the illness as the third cause of death in the U.S., but the John Hopkins study reveals medical malpractice could be much deadlier.

How does medical malpractice differ from negligence?

Medical malpractice is actually a type of negligence provided by the law. Negligence is a failure to adhere to a standard of care. And this is by which a reasonable person with the same training and profession should properly act when facing the same situation.

By this definition, medical malpractice falls under the umbrella of negligence. As it refers to a medical professional’s action or lack of action that fails to meet existing standards of care. Medical negligence stems from a professional’s breach of duty to adhere to existing standards of care. And this led to a patient sustaining injuries as a result.

Is medical malpractice a criminal act?

Medical malpractice is a tort, which means a wrong has been committed, leading to injury. A tort is under civil law, and the court serves as a venue to recognize the wrong behavior committed and to redress the wrongdoing by awarding compensation for the injuries received by the plaintiff.

Civil law differs from criminal law in this sense, as the latter involves a breach of existing laws.

Medical malpractice is not a criminal act. However, if the medical professional’s actions lead to wrongful death, then file a separate criminal lawsuit for manslaughter.

How to prove medical malpractice?

Negligence involves four elements, and medical malpractice is based on the same grounds as well.

The first element is the establishment of the medical professional’s duty to give the patient the best care and treatment possible. This responsibility is professionally established, meaning it comes into a play when a patient goes to a doctor for medical services.

Entering into this relationship also means that the doctor acknowledges his or her responsibility for duty of care to the patient. Thus, it is important that the plaintiff has proof of the doctor-patient relationship to establish this first element.



Listen now to get commonly asked medical malpractice questions!


Listen now to get commonly asked medical malpractice questions!

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What does standard of care mean?

The second element for establishing negligence is the breach of this standard of care that the medical professional owes the patient. Standard of care means that the medical professional should give proper treatment and care to the patient. Standard of care is based on how a reasonable medical professional with the same training and profession should properly respond in the same situation. Breaching the duty of care if this standard of care was not met.

The third element is establishing causation. The plaintiff has to prove that the breach of duty of care was directly the cause of the injuries. Medical malpractice lawyers would gather expert witness statements, medical records, and other related evidence as proof.

What happens if I did not suffer injuries as a result of medical error?

The fourth element of a medical malpractice claim acknowledges the existence of damages that the law should address.

The calculation of damages is usually monetary. These calculations take into account lost days of work from the injury, hospital fees, and other medical bills. As well as other costs that the patient had to unwillingly take on as a result of the personal injuries from medical malpractice.

This final element is of key importance in a medical malpractice lawsuit. If establishing damages is not possible, then the court would not be able to find sufficient cause for action. For example, if a victim of a drunk driving accident receives the incorrect treatment at the hospital but unexpectedly heals from all the injuries. If so then awarding of compensation might not be possible. And this is due to the non-existence of damages.

What is the statute of limitations on medical malpractice?

The statute of limitations refers to the period by which the plaintiff (for example, the victim or injured party) can file a lawsuit.

According to the United States National Institutes of Health, medical malpractice lawsuits are commonly heard at the state level and not the federal government. Given this, states may have different procedures or statutes of limitations when it comes to filing medical malpractice cases.

For example, in Texas, state law provides that individuals cannot file a medical malpractice lawsuit if the injuries were from medical negligence which was more than ten years ago.

How to sue for medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice lawsuit begins with the filing of pleadings. These are legal documents that relay the wrong behavior done by a medical professional. Causing the plaintiff to sustain injuries as a result. The pleadings also contain a demand for compensation.

In some states, the physical delivery of the pleadings to the defendant (the medical practitioner who was negligent, in this case) triggers the beginning of the legal process.

Filing of medical malpractice is done at the state trial court. There are some rare cases that go to the federal level. If the judge deems the medical malpractice case is to be heard in court, the case goes to trial.

What happens in a medical malpractice trial?

Before the trial, a long period of information sharing between the plaintiff (the person filing the lawsuit, which in medical malpractice cases is the victim sustaining injuries) and the defendant. There will be an exchange of medical records and other such documents that are pertinent to the case between the two parties. There might be a request for deposition testimonies at this point.

Without reaching a settlement, the case goes to trial. And then the plaintiff has the burden of convincing the jury of the damages from medical malpractice. This means establishing proof of negligence by the medical professional.

How to find a medical malpractice attorney?

Are you or your family members a victim of medical malpractice? If so, you need to get help from a law firm with experienced medical malpractice attorneys.

Are you in the Houston area? Need a malpractice lawyer in Houston? Looking for the best Houston medical malpractice attorneys?

Roxell Richards Injury Law firm will help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us now for a free consultation. Get in touch with us at our local phone number (713) 974-0388 or through our toll-free hotline at 1-855-GOT-INJURED.

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