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What is medical malpractice?

Family members of patients who have been harmed by their doctors, another medical professional or hospital may wonder what options are available to aid with the damages they have suffered. Families may be left with medical and funeral costs during an already difficult time following the unexpected loss of loved one. Different options, depending on the circumstances, may be available to victims of medical negligence. Surviving family members of a victim of medical negligence may have the option to pursue a wrongful death claim for recovery of damages.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by a doctor, medical professional or hospital, you may have heard the term medical malpractice and wondered what it refers to. Medical malpractice and wrongful death claims are important to understand because, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the third leading cause of death in the United States is medical malpractice. Additionally, in 2012, $3 billion was paid out for medical malpractice claims.

In general, medical malpractice describes the circumstance when a doctor, medical professional or hospital is in some way negligent and harms a patient. Doctors, medical professionals and hospitals may be negligent if they deviate from the recognized standard of care and cause harm to a patient. To determine what the recognized standard of care is it is necessary to determine what a medical provider in the same or similar circumstances would have done.

While medical malpractice claims can be complex, they can be important for victims who may suffer a lifetime of harm. In addition to medical and funeral expenses, families may also be able to recover loss of support and services, lost prospect of inheritance, pain and suffering and other damages. Medical malpractice claims are designed to protect victims and provide help for them during a difficult time.

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

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