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Understanding medical malpractice per U.S. laws

Medical malpractice or medical negligence is referred to any injury caused to a patient due to an act or omission by a medical practitioner who digresses from the standard of care. Thus, a victim or his family may choose to sue the hospital, nursing home or the medical practitioner for damages.

Medical malpractice by definition relies on the tort law principle of negligence. Thus, the burden of proof to prove medical negligence lies on the plaintiff or alleged victim of medical negligence. Under Louisiana law, three elements need to be proved in order to prove medical malpractice.

First, it must be proved that the medical practitioner owed a duty of care to the victim. Thus, depending on the circumstances, if a medical practitioner performs a procedure free of cost, the Good Samaritan principle may exempt the practitioner from being sued for medical negligence.

Secondly, there must have been a breach in the duty of care owed to the patient. The breach in duty of care may be proved by showing that the medical practitioner had digressed from the kind of care that would have been used by a reasonable medical professional in a similar situation. Thus, mere wrong opinion may not automatically make a medical practitioner liable for medical negligence. Thirdly, there must have been an injury caused to the patient due to the breach in duty of care.

A victim of medical negligence or his family may be entitled to a substantial legal recourse in the form of compensation. One may contact legal professional help to aid them in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Often medical malpractice may result in severe injuries that can leave a victim partially or totally disabled. Furthermore, it may result in exorbitant medical expenses. Thus, the court may allow substantial monetary damages to the victim and his family for medical malpractice.

Source: NLM.NIH.gov, "An introduction to medical malpractice in the United States", B. Sonny Bal, accessed on Oct. 4, 2014

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