Medical malpractice is a niche area of the general civil law field of negligence. It can be a complex area of law. One of the questions that arises from a more practical point of view is whether an ineffective treatment by a doctor constitutes malpractice?
The medical field has changed radically over the years. It wasn’t that long ago patients believed their doctors could do no wrong. The commercialization of the medical care industry has changed that as much of the doctor-patient relationship has been interrupted. This has resulted in a rise in the number of medical malpractice cases being filed across the country.
So, does the result of a treatment mean that the doctor made a legal mistake? Well, anyone that watches medical dramas like House or ER probably knows the answer to that. It is no. Medicine has come a long way, but it is not a cure all for every health situation. Diagnosis can be difficult and so can treatments. The fact a treatment does not work is not per se an indication that malpractice has occurred. If it was, the medical field would be frozen into inaction because of a fear of being sued.
How then do we tell if a physician committed a legal wrong? The answer is in the process. Every condition presented to a medical professional calls for a minimum level of care that should be formed. In this case, the care would include everything from steps of diagnosis to actual treatment. This minimum level is known by the name “standard of care”. So long as a doctor meets the minimum standard of care, he or she cannot be found to have committed malpractice regardless of whether the patient is cured or not.
The standard of care in any case is determined by expert testimony. The experts are doctors in the area who can testify as to what the minimum level of care should have been in the particular case. The defendant and plaintiff each designate an expert for this purpose. You will no doubt be shocked to learn that each tends to present a very different view of what the minimum is and whether the defendant doctor met it. How are these differences dealt with in court? A jury of individuals who have no medical training at all decide!
Thomas Ajava writes for MetairieWrongfulDeathLawyer.com – your online resource for finding a Metairie wrongful death lawyer to assist with your case.