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Personal injury: What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice cases are those brought against a health care professional — and sometimes a health care facility — in which the plaintiff claims that the defendant was negligent in some way. Despite what some Maryland residents may think, not every accident or mistake that happens in a hospital or doctor's office is grounds for a medical malpractice suit. Understanding what elements must be present for a claim to be brought against a defendant can help victims be better prepared going into any litigation.

The first thing that must be present in any medical malpractice case is that the accident or mistake that occurred must have been due to a preventable error. Health care workers sometimes have to make snap judgments on the information they have at the time. Sometimes, those decisions are the wrong ones, but if it was not preventable or a breach in duty of care, it may not be grounds for a malpractice suit.

The other main component of a medical malpractice claim is that the breach of duty must have caused some type of harm. This can be difficult to show in complicated medical cases. Often times, these patients are dealing with multiple issues, and it can be challenging to prove that one complication was directly due to a physician error and was not just part of the progression of the illness or disease.

If these two elements are present, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be a valid option. Discussing the individual case with a personal injury attorney who deals with medical malpractice cases is always the first step to getting a better understanding of your case and what options may be available.

Source: FindLaw, "Medical Malpractice Overview" Jan. 10, 2015

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