Despite the superior healthcare infrastructure in place in the United States, healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses, dentists and more may make errors which can result in serious harm to patients. Though the hope is that no one will have to research the topic, the reality is that medical errors or mistakes happen often. Having a basic understanding of what medical malpractice cases are all about can help a patient decide if they should pursue a lawsuit.

In general, healthcare providers have a duty to provide a reasonable standard of care for a given situation. Failure to act or an action which harms a patient may be deemed negligent, and the doctor may be liable for damages. Generally, in a medical malpractice case, hospitals and health care providers such as nurses, attending physicians, specialists, pharmacists and more can be sued if they played a role in the resulting harm.

Simply suspecting that one’s doctor or doctors have made an error is not sufficient to file a medical malpractice case. It may be necessary to get an expert medical opinion where an expert physician examines a harmed patient’s medical records such as lab reports, X-rays and more and certifies or notes that the other doctor deviated from the accepted standard of care under the given circumstance. Once it is established that a doctor may have been negligent, it is important for the patient to check with a legal professional to ensure that the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit has not expired. State laws vary on the statute of limitations and laws may change. Thus, is always important to check.

A harmed patient may be entitled to damages if negligence on part of the healthcare provider is proved. However, a doctor may raise several defenses to a medical malpractice case. These include the assertion that the plaintiff was a non-compliant patient who failed to observe the doctor’s recommendations or refused to undergo the necessary treatment the doctor recommended.

Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a healthcare provider and healthcare facilities is not an automatic guarantee that one is entitled to damages. Still, those who have been harmed by the medical system may be entitled to a remedy.

Source:, “Medical Malpractice Liability,” accessed August 12, 2014