What is Medical Malpractice?

As a medical professional, the last thing you want is to face a medical malpractice claim. Doctors are trustworthy figures, so when they break that trust, it’s a big deal. Whether you made a simple mistake, or you are wrongly accused, your specific case may not qualify for malpractice. However, you must hire an experienced attorney who will help you combat medical malpractice claims, as they can have a significant impact on your practice and your livelihood. If you are being accused of medical malpractice, here are some of the questions you may have: 

What constitutes medical malpractice?

The main qualification for a medical malpractice claim is whether you, a physician, neglected the standard of care, and your patient was injured or their condition worsened as a result. Generally, the combination of failing to conform to the accepted standards of practice and breaching your duty of care is enough for a patient to have an arguable medical malpractice claim. Some examples of medical malpractice include, but are not limited to:

  • Misreading or ignoring laboratory results
  • Failure to recognize symptoms
  • Failure to order proper testing
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Surgical errors or wrong-site surgery
  • Unnecessary surgery
  • Premature discharge
  • Disregarding or not accepting appropriate patient history
  • Improper medication or dosage
  • Hospital infections
  • Delayed diagnosis

How can I defend myself from medical malpractice claims?

Fortunately, if you are faced with a medical malpractice lawsuit, there are several potential routes you may take to defend yourself. Disproving negligence is always the best way to win your case, however, there are a few other defenses to medical malpractice claims as well, such as:

  • Respectable Minority Principle: Essentially, this principle protects doctors who are under scrutiny for simply doing their job–helping the sick. If you were treating a patient who was very ill and you believed it was time for a more radical or drastic form of treatment and they were injured, you may open yourself up to a medical malpractice claim. However, if a “respectable minority” of medical professionals supports your decision, you may have a valid defense. Keep in mind that it is your duty to inform patients of potential dangers before beginning such treatments. 
  • Contributory Negligence: If you can prove that your patient would not have sustained the injury in question if it weren’t for a negligent act on their part, you may disprove their medical malpractice claim.
  • Good Samaritan Laws: If you are a doctor and try to save someone in an emergency, you are generally protected from civil liability if the party is injured in the process.
  • Statute of Limitations: In New York, patients generally have 3 years to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. If your patient discovered their injury at any point after the statute of limitations has since run, the case may get dismissed.

Contact our New York City firm

When a medical professional is accused of misconduct, they must retain strong legal representation. If you require a medical law attorney for your legal matters, call Paul E. Walker, an experienced New York City OPMC & OPD Lawyer. Please contact the Walker Medical Law firm to set up a free initial consultation.