Medical Malpractice FAQs

Medical malpractice insurance policies pay out in the event that someone working for a medical facility is responsible for the death or injury of a patient. Learning more about malpractice and finding answers to some commonly asked questions can help you decide if you have a case against a medical worker or facility.

Definition of Medical Malpractice

Doctors vow to do no harm before working with patients. A medical malpractice case is a case where a patient proves that a doctor did harm to him or her. Some examples of malpractice include:

•A worker gives a patient a lower dose of anesthesia that leaves the patient alert and awakes during surgery
•A nurse injuries a patient after leaving the bed rails down, and the patient rolls off the bed
•A dentist accidentally breaks or chips a tooth while performing a tooth extraction
•A doctor prescribes a medication that interacts with another prescribe drug and sends a patient to the hospital
•A doctor gives a patient the wrong diagnosis without running tests or looking at symptoms

Is There a Statue of Limitations?

Medical malpractice cases do have a state of limitations, but the statute of limitations varies among countries. Some states will only let patients file a suit within six months of the incident occurring, and other countries will give patients up to two years. Legal experts recommend that patients begin speaking with attorneys within a few days or weeks of suffering from an incident involving a doctor or other medical professional.

Who is Responsible for Malpractice?

Many people tend to think that doctors are the only ones held responsible in medical malpractice cases, but these cases can involve any health care professionals. A patient who falls into a coma after surgery due to a high level of anesthesia can file against the person who administered that drug. Those who had oral problems after a dental procedure can file against the dentist, his or her office or any assistants working on the case. Attorneys may also suggest that the suit includes the hospital or facility that employed those workers and nurses and others who provided services to the patient.

Can You Settle a Case?

Not all malpractice cases go to trial and end with both sides speaking in front of a jury and a judge. The majority of malpractice cases end well before a trial begins. Settlement occurs when both parties meet a mutual decision. Your attorney will typically work out a settlement agreement with the insurance provider of the malpractice insurance.

What Constitutes a Claim?

There are three specific things that constitute a medical malpractice claim. There must be some relationship between the patient and doctor, with the patient paying the doctor for medical services. Patients must also show that actual damages occurred and that the physician or professional was responsible for those damages. If the case focuses more on negligence than malpractice, the patient will still need to show that the medical professional behaved in a negligent manner that led to injuries or damages.

How Do You Know if Others Had Problems?

You and your attorney can request documentation from state and local organizations that will show you if the doctor settled or went to court over similar cases in the past. Most cities will also let you access the public court records for free, which lets you collect information about a doctor or facility before informing the defendant of your claim.