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The Patient’s Guide to Medical Malpractice

doctor wearing gloves, a mask, and face shield shows an older patient a head x-ray

Defining Medical Malpractice

“Medical malpractice” (or medical negligence) is loosely defined as any deviation from the standards in the profession that causes harm to the patient.

Depending on what state you are in, there may be differences in the way medical malpractice claims are defined and what a patient has to prove in court. In North Carolina, healthcare providers must:

  • Possess the degree of professional learning, skill and ability which other similar health care providers possess.
  • Use their best judgment.
  • Use reasonable care and diligence.
  • Comply with the standards of practice among members of the same health care profession with similar training and experience.

If a healthcare provider violates any one of these duties and causes harm to a patient, that is medical malpractice.

What Counts as Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Medical errors happen everyday in virtually every setting where healthcare is provided (hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices, etc.)

Here are some of the leading causes of medical malpractice:

  • Birth injuries
  • Nursing home abuse or neglect
  • Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
  • Failure to provide proper treatment or unreasonable delay in treatment
  • Failure to warn patients of the risks, benefits, and alternatives to any given treatment
  • Surgical errors
  • Medication or anesthesia errors

However, it is also important to know how to distinguish what is malpractice versus what is not, as this can be confusing to people who aren’t familiar with the laws.

What is Not Included

Most patients that consider pursuing a medical malpractice case have suffered some type of injury or bad outcome. However, just because there is a bad outcome, does not mean that there is always medical malpractice.

For example, a surgeon may do everything correctly during a surgery but the patient could still end up having a complication. That would not be medical malpractice because the surgeon did not violate any of his duties. Generally speaking, healthcare providers do not have to guarantee good outcomes for their patients.

Other things that may not be considered malpractice include:

  • If you think the medical professional has poor bedside manner.
  • If you have a known side effect from medication or treatment that you were warned about.
  • If a medical professional will not do work outside of their practice area.
  • If a medical professional refuses to provide treatment because of abuse from the patient.

Frequently, patients that call our office know they have been injured, but they may not know whether their healthcare providers did something wrong. Our attorneys have many years of experience investigating malpractice cases and determining if errors were made.

Making a Medical Malpractice Claim

Medical malpractice cases involve significant expenses, hiring expert witnesses, and filing special pleadings with the courts. If a malpractice complaint doesn’t contain the right language, a court can dismiss the case immediately. Because of these hurdles, except in rare circumstances, patients should avoid making medical malpractice claims on their own.

For any medical malpractice issue, your best bet at getting the appropriate compensation for your claim is to hire a skilled and experienced attorney in the field. They will make sure your case has the necessary paperwork, evidence, and they can appear on your behalf for any trial proceedings.

How Our North Carolina Attorneys Can Help

Daniel, Holoman & Associates LLP is one of the leading medical malpractice firms in eastern North Carolina. Our attorneys have a proven track record of obtaining multi-million dollar settlements for our clients and aim to provide a collaborative approach to each case. If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice and are looking to make a claim, call (866) 380-2281 to schedule a consultation today.