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Worcester Personal Injury Law Blog

Do I have a viable medical malpractice claim?

In our last post, we noted that Massachusetts recently adopted a new approach to medical malpractice claims, and that the new approach is seen as hopeful by both plaintiff's attorneys and physicians. The law, to be sure, will not allow for the peaceful settlement of every case of alleged medical error, and patients still need to be informed about their options.

Medical malpractice is a complex area of law. One question that can arise is whether a case even constitutes medical malpractice. Not every case in which something goes wrong with a patient or the patient's health worsens gives rise to a viable medical malpractice case. A doctor must have acted either negligently or recklessly in order to pursue a successful medical malpractice case. Because negligence is by far the most common situation, that's what we'll discuss here.

Negligence occurs when a doctor provides care that is below the standard of care they would be expected to follow. Generally speaking, this is usually a question of what a competent doctor would or wouldn't do when treating the same patient under similar circumstances. It can depend on the state and location in which the doctor practices. Sometimes a national standard is expected, sometimes there are standards by locality, and in some cases doctors are permitted to hold a minority opinion about disputed medical question.

In any case, establishing the standard of care is a major part-even if only one part-of any medical malpractice case. Oftentimes experts need to be called in to help establish the standard. Then the facts of the case have to be established to determine how closely the standard or standards were followed.

All of this can be quite complex, and it is without doubt very important to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney when pursuing such cases.

Source: Boston, " New Mass. Law changes malpractice procedures ," Shannon Young, August 14, 2012.

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