Medical malpractice is when a doctor or another medical professional – like a nurse or technician – does something or doesn’t do something that causes an injury or some harm to you, the patient. The medical professional’s act or failure to act (called an “omission”) is called “medical negligence.”
Like many other people, you may think you have a medical malpractice lawsuit if your doctor makes a mistake while treating you. The key factors involve showing or proving a doctor or another medical professional made a mistake, and you were harmed by that mistake.
One study notes that about 1.14 million patient-safety incidents occurred among the 37 million hospitalizations in the Medicare population over the years 2000-2002. Hospital costs associated with such medical errors were estimated at $324 million in October 2008 alone. Between 15,000 and 19,000 malpractice suits are brought against doctors each year.
Medical malpractice can be committed by several types of health care professionals and, in a case where a hospital employee commits malpractice, the hospital itself may be held liable under the legal doctrine of “respondeat superior.” Under this theory, an employer may be held liable for the negligent acts of its employee if the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment when the negligence occurred.