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What is medical malpractice?

Welcome to our West Virginia medical malpractice blog. We're starting off at the beginning, defining medical malpractice and illustrating the definition with a few examples.

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse or hospital fails to provide a patient with a generally accepted standard of care. In all cases of medical malpractice, the health care provider is negligent, whether that means a doctor who fails to recognize obvious symptoms of a serious illness or condition; a surgeon who operates on the wrong body part; or an inattentive nurse who administers an overdose to a patient.

Some other examples of medical malpractice include the following:

  • Failure to diagnose. Heart attacks are sometimes mistaken for anxiety, gallbladder problems, heartburn, acid reflux or other relatively minor health concerns. Misdiagnosis is a too-common error, as we will describe in future posts.
  • A doctor treats the wrong patient. Two people with similar names are confused for one another and the physician treats Person A for health problems Person B is experiencing.
  • A surgeon operates on the wrong body part. There are many examples of this, including a little boy who went in for corrective eye surgery several years ago. The surgeon operated on 4-year-old's healthy eye and then, realizing his error, operated on the correct eye -- without first talking to the boy's parents.
  • Unsanitary hands, unclean facilities. Infections can be spread by health care professionals who fail to wash their hands or clean their instruments and so on.

It's important to note that experienced attorneys understand that not all negative outcomes involve medical malpractice. A skilled, knowledgeable Huntington lawyer knows how to determine when damages are the result of negligence and how to vigorously pursue maximum compensation in negotiations and litigation.

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