Medical malpractice happens when a doctor or other healthcare professional causes a serious injury or otherwise causes harm to a patient through negligence. This negligence may happen at any point during the course of treatment. In order for a claim to be considered as medical malpractice, the following characteristics should be met:
The standard of care must be violated.
The law generally recognizes that certain medical standards exist and that these standards will be met by reasonably competent healthcare professionals. A patient has the right to expect that these standards will be met and that care delivered will be consistent with them. If the standard of care has not been met, it may be possible to establish negligence.
The negligence must cause an injury.
A simple violation of the standard of care isn't enough to consider a claim as medical malpractice. The patient must also prove an injury has occurred, and that this injury would not have occurred in the absence of said negligence. Unfavorable outcomes alone do not count. If the negligence did not cause the injury, no case may be established.
Significant damages must result from the injury.
Medical malpractice is extremely expensive because claims often involve the presence of expert medical testimony and several hours of depositions. To prove a case is viable, the patient needs to show that significant damages have resulted from the injury; if the damages are small, it may be too expensive to pursue a case. The injury should be shown to have resulted in disability, loss of income, unusual pain or suffering, and/or significant past or future medical bills.