Does a Medical Error Always Mean Negligence?

Medical practitioners have a legal and professional obligation to protect their patients from harm. This entails adhering to each patient’s medical condition’s standard of care. When a medical practitioner, such as a doctor, surgeon, anesthesiologist, psychiatrist, or any other medical professional, makes a mistake while treating a patient, the victim may file a medical malpractice case against them. However, medicine is an inherently risky industry, and honest errors cannot be overruled.

Everyone should understand the distinction between medical error and medical negligence. Medical errors by medical practitioners should not always be misconstrued as medical malpractice.

Medical negligence occurs when a doctor, surgeon, dentist, nurse, or other medical professionals fail to follow the established medical standards when performing their duties. If a doctor delivers treatment that falls short of established medical standards in the circumstances, that doctor has failed to execute his or her duty and is considered negligent.

Medical Professionals and Standard of Care

To begin, it’s important to understand that “standard of care” is a legal word, not a medical one. That implies attorneys, not physicians, mostly use it. In general, most doctors only discuss the standard of care when they are testifying in court in medical negligence cases or attending medical malpractice courses.

Generally, “standard of care” typically refers to the level of care and competence demonstrated by the average health care practitioner in the provider’s specialty, taking into consideration the medical information available in the area. As a result, the standard of care is based mainly on the hypothetical practices of a moderately competent health care practitioner in a similar community.

The Duty of a Medical Professional to Warn and Advise

Doctors have a responsibility to offer appropriate information to patients, such as disclosing necessary information after a diagnostic process. A doctor has an obligation to educate a patient about the risks of prescriptions recommended to them and the risks of any operation.

Moreover, a practitioner is responsible for sharing information about potential adverse outcomes that may affect other parties. For example, if a doctor prescribes a drowsy medicine, the doctor has a responsibility to inform the patient of this fact since it is foreseeable that others might be hurt if the patient operates heavy machinery or drives a car while under the effect of the prescription.

What is Medical Malpractice?

You may have been injured as a direct result of improper medical treatment or care. This is referred to as “medical malpractice.” Clients must understand that an injury resulting from medical treatment does not always imply that the treatment was “negligent,” and not all medical errors constitute medical malpractice. While better care or safety precautions would have prevented you from injuries, it’s possible that the accident was inevitable in the first place. Medical malpractice cases are likely to be more complicated than other types of personal injury cases, a reality that the Irish legal system recognizes.

For a case to be considered a result of medical negligence in Ireland, several factors must be established.

These are:

  1. Failure to provide an appropriate standard of care: The entire medical community is required by law to adhere to specific standards, or they risk being accused of negligence.
  2. An injury happens due to negligence: If a patient believes the healthcare providers were careless, but no harm or injury occurs, no claim may be made. The patient must show that carelessness caused harm and that it would not have occurred if it had not been for negligence.
  3. The injury must have caused significant harm: The patient must prove that the injury or harm caused by the act of negligence led to significant harm.

Considerable damages include:

  • Suffering
  • Hardships
  • Endless pain
  • Loss of income
  • Disability
  • Patient’s death

What is a Medical Error?

Medical errors are mistakes or omissions in treating patients’ illnesses. Every known medical disease has a standard of care or the least degree of treatment that a patient should expect. If a medical professional’s actions satisfy this criterion but make a mistake due to some unusual circumstances in the patient’s case, they may not be guilty of medical malpractice.

In most medical error cases, the medical practitioner who made a mistake will usually offer to rectify the error at no cost. Many medical disorders have symptoms similar to those of others, and failure to make an accurate diagnosis could lead to personal injury to the patient. The standard of care, in the end, determines medical mistakes and, hence, establishes grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Knowing the difference

Medical malpractice does not always mean that a medical practitioner made a mistake with your treatment that caused you harm. Before engaging a medical malpractice attorney on the matter, you should make inquiries regarding the issue.

  • Was the error communicated to you clearly and concisely? Or did you discover the problem after receiving a charge for further treatment that went beyond what you expected?
  • Is there any lasting damage or impairment as a result of the error?
  • Was there any offer from the medical expert to repair the damages or provide additional treatment?

These questions can help establish if a medical professional committed medical malpractice or made an unavoidable human error due to unavoidable circumstances. If you have any doubts regarding your rights after being injured due to medical care, contact a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.

How Does Negligence Become Medical Malpractice?

In a malpractice case, medical negligence becomes medical malpractice when the doctor’s negligent act causes injury to the patient, such as making the patient’s condition worse, causing unreasonable and unexpected complications, or necessitating additional medical treatment, to name a few examples.

To put it another way, two further elements—legal causation and damages—are required before medical negligence may result in a valid claim. Such a claim will fail if the doctor’s medical negligence was not foreseeable due to the patient’s injury (causation) or if the doctor’s medical negligence had no adverse effect on the patient’s condition (damages).

How to Make a Medical Malpractice Claim

Due to the intricate nature of medical malpractice claims for compensation and the difficulties in defining what constitutes medical negligence, the first step should be to get in touch with expert medical malpractice attorneys.

Our law firm can help you identify what constitutes medical negligence and provide a free consultation of a potential medical negligence compensation claim. All individual cases are confidential, and you will receive accurate, unbiased, and up-to-date legal advice. Get in touch today for a free quote.

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Gary Matthews Solicitors

Medical negligence solicitors, Dublin

We help people every day of the week (weekends and bank holidays included) that have either been injured or harmed as a result of an accident or have suffered from negligence or malpractice.

Contact us at our Dublin office to get started with your claim today

Gary Matthews Solicitors