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Important things to know about medical malpractice

The Journal of American Medicine reports that medical malpractice, or medical negligence, is the third leading cause of the death in the United States. Estimates place the number of patients killed in the U.S. each year as a result of medical errors at 200,000. During 2012, payouts for medical malpractice claims equaled 3 billion. Medical malpractice generally refers to the failure of a medical care professional to provide the recognized standard of care when treating a patient. The standard of care refers to what a reasonably prudent medical care provider would have done in similar circumstances.

When a patient has been harmed by the treatment provided by a medical professional, and has suffered damages as a result, they may have a claim for damages, however, it is important to be aware that medical malpractice claims can be complex and should be thoroughly documented so it is essential for patients to keep thorough medical records. It is also necessary to keep in mind that important time limits apply to medical malpractice and personal injury claims generally so it is essential to be familiar with those as well.

Medical malpractice can refer to a range of different types of negligence including failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis, medication errors, surgical errors and wrong-site surgery, as well as other medical professional errors. Victims and their families may be able to recover compensation for the physical, financial and emotional damages they are left facing following an incident involving medical malpractice.

It is important for patients to be empowered in their health care decisions and treatments which is why it is also important for them to be familiar with the legal protections available to them when harmed. Understanding their rights and remedies through the legal process can be an essential protection for victims.

Source: Forbes, "10 Things You Want To Know About Medical Malpractice," Demetrius Cheeks, May 16, 2013

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