Health care professionals have a legal obligation to meet a standard of care when treating and diagnosing their patients. Surgeons, doctors, nurses, paramedics or other medical professionals who make an error when treating a patient may be held liable for any damages. However, as a medical malpractice lawyer in Newport News, VA from a firm like Waterman Law Centers, PLLC can explain, not every mistake can lead to a medical malpractice claim. 

What Is a Medical Error?

A medical error is when a health care professional makes a mistake in treating a patient. Some doctors will meet professional standards of care, but still commit an error. Many medical conditions share symptoms, so it may be hard for a doctor to give the correct diagnosis if the patient is exhibiting symptoms that could result from multiple conditions. If a doctor makes an error during the diagnostic phase, that could lead to a misdiagnosis. 

Additionally, a doctor may make an error when prescribing medication. Perhaps the patient had an adverse reaction to the drug. However, such an event is considered a medical error and not malpractice if other doctors would have also reasonably prescribed that medication for the specific condition that was being treated. 

Some medical errors are considered harmless, which is when the error does not cause injury to the patient. The doctor is not liable for any errors that are not a risk to the patient. 

What Is a Medical Malpractice Claim?

If the medical professional’s error is due to unacceptable acts or omissions, it becomes medical negligence. In other words, medical malpractice is the result of actions that violate the recognized standard of care within that medical specialty. 

Additionally, the patient must have suffered harm (either illness or injury) due to negligence. Harm may include the following:

  • Pain and suffering (physical and emotional)
  • Need for continued treatments
  • Permanent disability
  • Missed opportunity to treat the patient in a timely manner
  • Inability to work and earn a living
  • Death

How Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help?

A medical malpractice lawyer has the experience and tools necessary to guide victims in determining whether the error is malpractice. Legal professionals have the resources, including medical experts, who can review the patient’s medical records and gather evidence to build a strong case against the negligent health care practitioner. 

If you believe that your medical professional deviated from basic standards of care and you were harmed as a result, consult with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to see whether you can receive compensation for your injuries.