Understanding Medical Malpractice

As with people in any profession, medical practitioners are human. They are prone to overlook things and make mistakes. The difference, however, between medical professionals and most other workers is that mistakes in a medical environment generally have much more significant consequences—up to and including death. Certainly, an error by a construction worker or a cook could result in serious injuries or death, but doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals exist for the purpose of providing health care. We specifically entrust our health to the judgment and actions of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, meaning there tends to be a higher risk of a detrimental mistake occurring.
Malpractice is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a dereliction of professional duty or a failure to exercise an ordinary degree of professional skill or learning by one rendering professional services which results in injury, loss, or damage.” When this type of professional negligence occurs in a medical setting, it is generally a cause of action for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Medical malpractice can manifest in many forms, including, but not limited to:

  • Misdiagnoses
  • Delayed diagnoses
  • Failure to warn patient of known risks
  • Improper treatment
  • Negligent prenatal care
  • Negligence during childbirth
  • Medication errors (incorrect dosages, improper administration of medication, etc)
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Surgical errors

The key to understanding whether a medical practitioner’s actions constitute malpractice is, generally speaking, determining whether or not the individual was negligent in their actions. You cannot pursue a medical malpractice claim based on displeasure with the service and treatment you were provided, or simply because the outcome of your treatment was not satisfactory.
The practitioner must have failed in some manner to be “reasonably skillful and careful” in their treatment of you, which resulted in a negative outcome or some sort of harm that otherwise would not have resulted if a more competent physician had been treating you.
In order to demonstrate medical negligence, you will also have to prove that a some form of doctor-patient relationship existed, that specific damages occurred, and that the negligence of the medical practitioner was in fact the cause of the damages. In many medical malpractice cases, since oftentimes the plaintiffs were already sick or injured, it can be difficult to tell whether the actions of the defendant were actually to blame for the resulting damages or if the damages would have occurred either way.
Claims of malpractice also have strict statutes of limitations, meaning you must move quickly to take legal action if you believe you have been the victim of medical malpractice. The state of Michigan has a two year statute of limitations following the negligent treatment or action. However, in cases where the damages or injuries resulting from the physician’s negligence do not manifest for longer than two years, the patient will have six months from the time the injury is discovered to bring a lawsuit.
If you do file and win a medical malpractice lawsuit in Michigan, you may be entitled to financial restitution. Firstly, you may receive compensatory damages for the tangible costs associated with the medical treatment and resulting injuries, including things like medical bills and lost wages resulting from an inability to work. You may also collect non-economic damages meant to compensate you for intangible losses like pain and suffering. Michigan does not allow for punitive damages against a defendant in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
If you or a loved one believe you have been the victim of medical negligence on the part of a medical practitioner that resulted in injuries or some other harm, please contact Attorney Kellie Howard-Goudy of the law office of Carla D. Aikens, P.C. right away and let us fight to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in your medical malpractice case.

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