Basically, medical malpractice occurs when doctors or health care providers provide substandard care to their patients. It is important to note however, that not all mistakes in treatment are considered medical malpractice.

Typically, medical malpractice falls into one of the following three categories:

Improper Diagnosis

Depending on the illness, an improper diagnosis can have serious consequences. If a patient is misdiagnosed, and if it reasonable that another doctor would have provided the correct diagnosis, medical malpractice may have occurred.

Medical Mistakes

If a doctor makes a mistake treating a patient, and it can be determined that another doctor would not have made the same mistake, the patient may have a medical malpractice claim. While sometimes the evidence of medical mistakes may be readily apparent, others are not. For instance, if a patient has back surgery to relieve pain, and the pain returns after 6 months post-surgery, it would be difficult to prove that the pain was due to a medical mistake from the initial surgery.

Informed Consent

Patients have a right to be informed of the care they are going to receive. Doctors should inform a patient of all of their treatment options, as well as any known risks. If a doctor fails to obtain the patient’s informed consent regarding treatment, medical malpractice may have occurred. Note, however, that there is an exception to this rule if the medical treatment was due to an emergency situation.