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What’s the Difference Between a Bad Outcome and Medical Malpractice?

August 16, 2021

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Whether you’re going to your doctor to find out why you’re having certain symptoms, or you’re getting prepped for major surgery, there’s always a chance that your health will worsen after medical treatment. Because all patients are different, medicine is an inexact science with varying outcomes. That means that two patients with the same disease or condition may have radically different outcomes after receiving the same treatments.

But sometimes, bad outcomes aren’t due to chance, a person’s specific biological and genetic makeup, or a hidden condition that no examination or test could have found. Sometimes, bad outcomes are due to doctors and surgeons practicing medicine negligently, and when that happens, they may have committed medical malpractice.

Bad Outcomes Can Occur Even When All Precautions Are Followed

Certain diseases are severe enough that even when they’re caught early and all appropriate treatments are administered, they can still get worse over time or become fatal. The same is true for surgery—even the most skilled surgeons with the steadiest hands have patients develop serious complications or die after surgery.

It can be tough for patients and their families to accept when bad outcomes happen after treatments. That’s why it’s important for medical providers, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities to give patients as much information as possible about their conditions, their treatments, and any surgeries they may undergo—including their risks of not getting better or even getting worse.

Medical Malpractice Happens When Preventable Mistakes Occur

Although no treatment or surgery is 100% foolproof and risk-free, patients should expect that the healthcare providers who are treating them will follow all necessary precautions and protocols from start to finish. But that doesn’t always happen, leaving millions of patients at risk of serious health problems and complications every year.

Four factors must exist and be proven when a patient suffers a bad outcome after medical treatment:

  • There was a doctor-patient relationship—This means that a person who experienced a bad outcome after medical treatment must be a patient of the medical provider they’re filing a claim against or suing.
  • The standard of care in this relationship wasn’t upheld—Medical providers swear an oath to provide the best possible care to their patients. When they don’t deliver care on par with their level of training and capabilities, they can be considered negligent.
  • This failure to uphold the standard of care caused the patient to suffer harm—Whether it was due to an existing condition worsening or a new condition developing, bad health outcomes when a doctor fails to uphold the standard of care can be considered medical malpractice.
  • The patient who suffered harm incurred damages—The most common damages associated with medical malpractice are economic damages, which include medical bills and lost wages. But patients can also experience non-economic damages, including pain and suffering.

Evidence and Investigations Separate Bad Outcomes from Medical Malpractice

On the surface, it can be difficult to tell bad outcomes and actual medical malpractice apart—especially when patients have unexpected complications after treatments and procedures. Hospitals and other healthcare clinics often count on this confusion and similarity, and they’re quick to point out that bad outcomes aren’t as uncommon as many patients may be led to believe.

But ultimately, hospitals and healthcare providers can’t hide from cold, hard evidence. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced law firm on your side from day one when yours or a loved one’s health worsens after treatment. Otherwise, it can be difficult or impossible to tell if your bad outcome was simply bad luck or the result of a preventable mistake or oversight.

We Have Nearly a Hundred Years of Experience Helping Victims Like You

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we’re grateful for the many healthcare providers in Ohio who save countless lives every day. But we also know that not all doctors, surgeons, and other medical professionals give their patients 100% of their energy and attention as they should. When their negligence and slip-ups cause serious complications or even death, we take action.

Our Ohio medical malpractice lawyers know the stakes are incredibly high for victims and their loved ones when they believe that they were harmed by medical providers, and we work hard to ensure they don’t pay out of pocket for others’ mistakes. Contact us today for a free consultation if you suspect that you or someone you love is a victim of medical malpractice. We have the experience and track record of success to get the outcome you’re owed.

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