What is medical malpractice?

Posted in: Medical Malpractice | Jun 14,2021


When you or a loved one is under medical care and something goes wrong, you want justice. And, whether your claim is justified in the eyes of the law is a frequently asked question. By definition, medical malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider resulting in harm to a patient or patients. In this post, we’ll answer the question, “what is medical malpractice?” so that you may have a better idea what goes into considering a case.


To make a case, the following all need to be true:

  • Standard of care is violated. All medical professionals work under a legal “standard of care,” or set of expectations a professional must follow. It is based on a common standard of practices across case types. For example, a medical professional who is performing heart surgery is expected to follow the same practice as others in his field and position. A deviation from this standard violates the right of the patient, and, if proven, can be grounds for malpractice.
  • Injury resulted from medical malpractice. A violation of the standard of care alone is not enough to make a valid claim of medical malpractice. The patient needs to have suffered an injury as a result of the professional’s negligence. This injury must be more than an inconvenience, and the injury cannot have been possible in absence of the malpractice.
  • Significant damages occurred as a result of the injury. It’s important to weigh the injury with the cost of filing a lawsuit. The injury and/or the recovery must be serious enough to create obstacles in everyday life, such as the development of a disability, significant pain and/or impactful financial issues that resulted from the injury.
  • The defendant must be a professional. When a non-professional is negligent, it does not qualify as malpractice. The person must have the qualifications to know what they are doing in their field of work in order to prove malpractice.


Examples of medical malpractice include anesthesia injury, cerebral palsy resulting from malpractice during birth, other types of childbirth injury, dental malpractice, hospital or nurse negligence, improper emergency treatment, medical misdiagnosis, medication errors, misdiagnosed cancer, misread X-Rays (or CT and MRI scans), stroke and brain injury, and surgical errors.

Some examples such as the following do not fall into clear categories:

  • Ignorance of medical history: If a medical professional is flippant or disregards a patient’s medical history in a way that causes an injury as described earlier, then that failure to record or take note of medical history constitutes medical malpractice. This includes, but is not limited to, cases where medical professionals misrecord information in a patient’s history, fail to diagnose a condition indicated by the patient’s history, or administer medication to which a patient has a recorded extreme reaction.
  • Inappropriately early discharge: Medical professionals are required to ensure that patients have recovered enough to send home without serious injury before discharging them after a procedure or visit. Due to various reasons, however, a medical professional may prematurely send patients home before they should go. Such an action is grounds for a medical malpractice case. It is important to note that readmission due to worsening symptoms alone is not grounds for a lawsuit, even though it is inconvenient.
  • Unneeded surgery: As a result of misdiagnosis, medical professionals may perform unnecessary surgeries. This may not always qualify as medical malpractice, but if there was a lack of consent or understanding on the part of the patient, or if a doctor performs the surgery in the wrong place or on the wrong patient, it often qualifies. There are also instances of cases where a doctor can recommend a surgery to gain profit, not for the patient’s best interest.

There are other situations that may qualify as medical malpractice, and the only way to know if you or a loved one has experienced medical malpractice is to consult with experienced medical malpractice attorneys. Contact us for a free case evaluation.