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Medical Malpractice Explained

Medical Malpractice is explained Dr. King from Sweeney Law Firm in an interview with INsight. 

Video Transcript:

Q Welcome back to INsight.  We’re here at Sweeney Law, with Dr. King, and we want to ask about medical malpractice.  A lot of people think, well, it’s when a doctor screws up.  It’s not really that, right?

A Well, the legal definition of medical malpractice is when any health care provider, it could be a doctor, it could be a nurse, it could be any other health care provider, deviates from what we call the standard of care and it causes harm to a patient.  So, if a doctor or a nurse were to do something that is not within this standard of care and it causes harm,that is really what medical malpractice is.  Now, it doesn’t have to be a big mistake.  It could be something, we all hear the horror stories about somebody who goes to the operating room and they operate on the wrong side.  

Q Right.

A That’s pretty egregious and pretty obvious.  But it could be something much simpler.  It could be that a doctor just forgets to write an order that he or she should have written, a nurse might forget to take vital signs and if that ends up causing harm to a patient, that is medical malpractice. 

Q Now, you used that phrase “standard of care”, which makes me think that there’s some gray area or some, you know, where physicians, I guess, are allowed to make a certain level of mistake, I guess.

A Well, I would say judgment.

Q Judgment, okay.

A Sure.  There’s a certain amount of judgment that a physician or a nurse or any other provider is allowed to make, but it is within that standard of care and the way we define it in Indiana is what would a reasonably prudent physician do under similar circumstances.  Now, that could be a little bit of wiggle room, a little bit of gray area, but that’s, and that’s what we, as physicians, we learn in medical school and residency what is that standard of care, how do we practice with a little bit of wiggle room, the art of medicine, if you will, but still comply with that standard of care. 

Q So, there’s no way I, as someone who feels injured, could know if that injury falls within the standard of care or crosses the line into malpractice?

A Exactly, and there are a lot of bad outcomes out there that are not due to medical malpractice.

Q Okay. 

A So, even if a physician were to comply with the standard of care, that could still result in a bad outcome and there is no way really for you or for the average person, unless they have a medical professional in their family, to really know what that standard of care is.  That’s one of the services that we provide at Sweeney Law Firm is to review cases to determine if there was a breach of the standard of care.

Q So, when I feel wronged by someone in the medical profession, would that be my first step is to contact you or is there some intermediate steps?

A No, the first step would be to contact us and a simple phone call and you can talk to one of our intake persons who can gather the information and then I will review it or one of the other attorneys at the firm will review it and we will decide is this something that looks like it’s potentially a breach of the standard of care or was it one of those unfortunate episodes, where even though the doctor or nurses did not deviate from the standard of care, there’s still a bad outcome and that’s a peace of mind that we can often give to patients, to say, you know, this was a bad outcome, but this was not due to somebody’s mistake due to a malpractice.  Or, if it was, then, obviously, that’s something we could pursue.

Q Yes, I mean, you’re right because, again, sometimes I’m just going to be mad and want to see justice done and sometimes things happen that aren’t necessarily malpractice, but you guys, obviously, can point us in the right direction.

A Absolutely.

Q You can also learn more at Sweeneylawfirm.com about contacting them, if you feel you’ve been wronged or if you have other questions.  It’s a very informative website, Sweeneylawfirm.com.  We’ll be right back on INsight.