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What is medical malpractice?


Medical malpractice is defined as a situation where, due to the negligent act of a medical practitioner, a patient has suffered injuries. Medical malpractice, also known as medical negligence, is derived from tort law.

Per New Jersey laws, courts look into a three-pronged test to establish a case of medical malpractice against a medical practitioner. First, it must be proven that a professional duty of care was owed to the patient in question. Second, there must be a breach of this duty of care. Third, there must be some injury caused because of the breach which resulted in damages. Courts may look into this kind of injury in order to determine un-liquidated damages. Damages may be calculated using the actual financial loss incurred, as well as non-economic losses such as suffering, harassment etc.

Many medical practitioners in the United States of America often obtain medical malpractice insurance in order to protect themselves in case of inadvertent injuries caused during medical procedures. Many hospitals often carry such insurance as a policy requirement. Under medical negligence, it must be established that the medical practitioner caused an injury to the patient by an act or omission from the normal course of a medical procedure.

Thus, a mere wrong opinion given by a medical practitioner may not make him or her liable to a medical negligence lawsuit. Negligence itself is defined under tort law as any act or omission which may cause injury to another. Any such injury cause, however, must be subjected to the reasonable foresight test. In the event an injury is caused to a patient that could not be reasonably foreseen by the medical practitioner, New Jersey laws dictate that the medical practitioner cannot be held liable.

Victims of medical negligence may suffer grave injuries. It may even lead to temporary or permanent disabilities. Under the New Jersey legal system, they may be entitled to compensation from the medical practitioner or from the hospitals.

Source: NIH.gov, "An Introduction to Medical Malpractice in the United States," B. Sonny Bal, Nov. 26, 2008

Source: NIH.gov, "An Introduction to Medical Malpractice in the United States," B. Sonny Bal, Nov. 26, 2008

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