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What is “Medical Malpractice”?

      The term “negligence” has a legal meaning just as it has a meaning in everyday conversation. Generally speaking, a person who fails to do or refrain from doing what a “reasonable person under the same or similar circumstances” would do, then that person is “negligent” under the law.

      As a member of society each person has legal duties to every other member of society. Following the speed limit, refraining from conduct that injures another person, and keeping a proper lookout while driving are examples. These rules constitute a person’s “standard of care.”  

Higher Standards of Care For Medical Providers

      When a person has a special level of knowledge or skill, that person is held to a higher standard under the law. Similarly, if a person has a particular license or enters into a special relationship with another person, that person will be held to a higher standard of care than the average person. This is true of doctors and other medical providers.

      When a doctor or medical provider violates the standard of care and a person suffers an injury as a result, the doctor or medical provider may be said to have been medically negligent. The common way of referring to this type of conduct is to say that the doctor or medical provider has committed “medical malpractice.”

Consequences of Medical Malpractice

      Medical Malpractice has far-reaching consequences even beyond the actual injury to the patient. For instance, the costs resulting from preventable medical errors to Texas residents, families, and communities are estimated at $1.3 billion to $2.2 billion each year. However, the cost of medical malpractice insurance to Texas doctors is only $421.2 million a year.

Medical Malpractice Statistics

      Repeat offender doctors are responsible for the bulk of these malpractice payments. According to the federal government’s National Practitioner Data Bank, which covers malpractice judgments and settlements since September 1990, 6.5% of Texas doctors have made 2 or more malpractice payments to patients. These repeat offender doctors are responsible for 51.3% of all payments.

      Regardless, the insurance lobby and several doctor-friendly organizations would have the public believe that doctors are being run out of business by trial lawyers. The data does not support that assertion.

Medical malpractice statistics infographic

Texas Laws Regarding Medical Malpractice

      Changes in Texas law now require a person who alleges an injury at the hands of a medical provider to:

  • give the medical provider notice of the claim
  • hire an expert to support a finding of medical negligence and issue a report
  • file suit within a certain period of time after the injury.

      Additionally, Texas law places limits, or “caps”, on certain types of damages associated with the claim of malpractice.

Time Is Of The Essence

      Because a medical malpractice lawsuit requires a great deal of time, expense, and risk in addition to having very stringent requirements prior to filing suit that, if not followed, may result in a person forever losing the right to recover for an injury, it is essential for a person who has been injured by medical malpractice to contact a law firm specializing in that area. Time is of the essence in every lawsuit; however, that is especially true in a medical malpractice case.



 

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