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Medical Malpractice - An Overview - Maryland Injury Lawyers Blog

Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Aug 20, 2009 in Medical Malpractice

For most people, going to the hospital entails a fair amount of stress, pain, and apprehension. Thus, when the caregivers violate the highest precept of their calling ("first, do no harm") hospital visits result in new, deeper pain. A Maryland medical malpractice lawyer can help people who have experienced such trauma with filing a medical malpractice case. Anyone can understand when a doctor or nurse does everything right and can't cure someone. But when a person holding themselves out to be a medical worker departs from the customs and standards of their profession and causes harm to the innocent patient, compensation through the legal system is available and appropriate.

Licensed medical professionals are required to maintain malpractice insurance in certain states. There are two reasons for this requirement: (1) sometimes doctors and nurses will make mistakes that have terrible results, for which compensation is necessary, and (2) some doctors and nurses deliberately or negligently fail to live up to the standards of their oath and must be held absolutely responsible to their patients. Insurance functions as a safety net for doctors and nurses, protecting them from lawsuits and personal liability.

For a successful medical malpractice case, a Maryland medical malpractice attorney must establish the elements of a negligence claim; and a deviation from the standard of care (or a lack of informed consent). The first of these elements is that a legal duty existed, which is established any time that a medical caregiver or facility undertakes care of a patient. Therefore, this element is rarely ever in doubt. Next, the breach of this duty must be established. This means that the caregiver failed to adhere to the standard of care for the profession (or so obviously breached the duty that "the thing speaks for itself"). Establishing this breach usually requires expert testimony to explain what the appropriate standard of care is for the profession (for the specific specialty of the medical doctor). Usually, if a given course of treatment is acceptable within the field, then it is within the standard of care, whereas if a doctor acts on a hunch or decides that he believes treatment should progress in some novel, never-before-seen way, this could fall outside of the standard of care. Even in these cases, the treatment could be within the standard if the doctor can establish that he used methods accepted within the profession.

Next, the breach must be shown to be the cause of the injuries sustained. Therefore, if a patient having a heart attack establishes that the doctor did not properly put a band-aid on the patient's finger that was cut during treatment, that patient can't recover for the heart attack because it was not caused by the negligence, but he might recover for an infection resulting from the band-aid negligence. In addition to being the cause in this way, a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer must also establish the caregiver's actions caused damages, without which no recovery can occur.

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