Medical Malpractice (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
Improper, unskilled, or negligent treatment of a patient by a physician, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, or other HEALTH CARE professional.
NEGLIGENCE is the predominant theory of liability concerning allegations of medical malpractice, making this type of litigation part of TORT LAW. Since the 1970s, medical malpractice has been a controversial social issue. Physicians have complained about the large number of malpractice suits and have urged legal reforms to curb large damage awards, whereas tort attorneys have argued that negligence suits are an effective way of compensating victims of negligence and of policing the medical profession.
A person who alleges negligent medical malpractice must prove four elements: (1) a duty of care was owed by the physician; (2) the physician violated the applicable standard of care; (3) the person suffered a compensable injury; and (4) the injury was caused in fact and proximately caused by the substandard conduct. The burden of proving these elements is on the plaintiff in a malpractice lawsuit.
Physicians, as professionals, owe a duty of care to those who seek their treatment. This element is rarely an issue in malpractice litigation, because once a doctor agrees to treat a patient, he or she has a...
(The entire section is 1200 words.)
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