In your work as a physician, not every case turns out as you would hope, and some patients simply cannot find the healing they are seeking. This may be because they wait too long to seek help, their symptoms are not immediately discernable, they are not truthful when answering your questions or they do not follow your advice for whatever reason. Often, a bad end is simply because the patient’s unique physiology does not respond to treatment.
When things do not go well for patients, it is common for them to blame the doctor. While this may seem a reasonable assumption to the patient, in the eyes of the law, a negative outcome does not necessarily translate to medical malpractice.
What qualifies as malpractice?
You may feel responsible for the negative outcome of your patient’s case. Depending on your specialty, you may be more susceptible to malpractice claims than those in other specialties. Some of the most common malpractice claims involve the following:
- Prescribing the use of medication or medical devices without warning your patient of known defects or dangerous side effects
- Failing to obtain informed consent, as defined by the state of Iowa, from your patient before performing a procedure such as surgery
- Failing to correctly or promptly diagnose a serious illness
- Surgical mistakes
- Other kinds of negligence
You may go over your protocol of care in your mind and wonder if you took the right steps. However, if you followed a standard of care that was reasonable for the patient and did not allow your quality of care to fall below that standard, you may not be guilty of malpractice.
If your case goes to trial, you can expect to hear expert testimony that others in your profession might have handled things differently. However, the measure the court uses is the standard of care generally accepted by those in your field.
Where to find help
If you are facing accusations of committing medical malpractice that left a patient injured or caused the patient’s death, you may be feeling overwhelmed with what this might mean for your future. Your personal and professional reputation, as well as your practice of medicine, may be on the line.
Nevertheless, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. This means your patient or your patient’s family must have convincing evidence that your negligence or wrongdoing resulted in the patient’s injury or death. Your case may be challenging if your patient has evidence, such as a visible injury that may speak for itself in the eyes of a jury. This is why it is wise to have strong legal counsel on your side.