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An adverse outcome doesn’t always mean malpractice

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2023 | Surgical Errors |

Negative outcomes do occur in the medical industry. Not every patient gets the results they are hoping for. Someone may get treated for cancer but still pass away from the disease, for example. A doctor may put in a stent after a heart attack, but the patient may have another heart attack and pass away.

Family members sometimes believe that this adverse outcome means that there must have been medical malpractice. Medical professionals were unable to save their loved one, so they must have made a mistake. But this is not always true.

4 elements of malpractice

The key thing to remember is that there are four different elements that need to be shown in order for something to be medical malpractice. They are as follows:

  1. The doctor or nurse had a duty to take care of the patient.
  2. That duty was breached.
  3. Because the duty was not upheld, the patient suffered an injury.
  4. This injury has led to financial damages.

In other words, it needs to be shown that the medical professional did not uphold the expected standard of care within their industry. They were negligent, and that negligence was the reason for the adverse reaction.

For example, perhaps the chemotherapy simply wasn’t able to cure someone’s cancer and they passed away from an aggressive disease. This is not malpractice. But if a doctor determined that the person didn’t have cancer and didn’t start them on chemo for an additional two years before the disease was identified, it could be an example of a negligent delayed diagnosis that caused the patient significant harm.

This situation can definitely be complicated, and family members need to know exactly what legal options they have.