Not as easy as you might think, according to one lawyer, Robert Webb. He recently told reporters: “Most people think of medical malpractice as something a doctor does; negligence in treating a patient. However, medical malpractice may also refer to any health care professional, and that includes dentists, nurses, druggists, technicians, therapists, hospitals and clinics.”
He added: “Medical malpractice is not particular about where it happens. If there is negligence involved, the negligent person is responsible for those injuries.”
The problem Mr. Webb is pointing out is that just because a patient says he believes his practitioner has been negligent does not mean he or she has been, or more accurately proved to have been in a court of law.
He also emphasised that what might appear to be negligent may in fact just be a case of something horrible going wrong with no one person to blame. Mr. Webb cites the case of an organ transplant that does not take. Providing the patient is warned of the risks of the operation then if something does go wrong, no medical negligence can be attributed.
Webb said: “Negligence is determined by judging the health care professional, as compared to their peers in the same area of practice. In other words, the widely accepted standard of best practice in that field is the care of a patient. Medical negligence is also determined by whether or not there is a direct connection between the injury and the healthcare professional’s supposed negligence.”
Alongside attributing negligence, there is also the question of compensation for damages. These would include loss of income, pain and suffering and medical bills. But before any malpractice suit can be tested Mr. Webb says it is important that patients ensure they have all the relevant records.