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Medical Malpractice: Definitions and Prevalence

August 4, 2015 Legal Dictionary, Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice, according to a September, 2014, article for Medical News Today online, is  “professional negligence by a health care professional or provider in which treatment was substandard, and caused harm, injury or death to a patient.” Most of this negligence is “medical error” having to do with a diagnosis, prescription, dosage of a drug, overall health management, and/or hospital aftercare. These errors occur because of actions, or the lack of appropriate actions.

Clinics, hospitals, doctors, nurses and therapists, however, are not responsible for all medical harms that occur. They are only “legally liable” if your injuries are the direct result of their “deviating from the quality of care that competent (professionals) would normally provide in similar situations.”

PREVALENCE OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE AND LAWSUITS–In the United States each year, according to studies from the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, BMJ (British Medical Journal)Quality and Safety, HealthGrades Patients Safety in Hospitals, Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Medicine, and Health Affairs :

  • around 195,000 people die from “preventable in-hospital errors,”
  • 15,000 to 19,000 “malpractice suits against doctors” are filed,
  • blood thinners–given to reduce heart attacks and strokes–make up about 7% of hospital medication errors,
  • 80,000 to 160,000 die from “diagnoses errors,”
  • family physicians (internists) are mainly sued for “drug errors” and for “missed diagnoses” having to do with “cancers, heart attacks and meningitis,”
  • at least $1.5 billion is received by medically harmed patients and their attorneys,
  • “diagnostic errors” cause the most severe harm, and the biggest lawsuit payouts,
  • 1 in 3 hospital patients experience a medical error.



  • patients getting the wrong medications and/or the wrong dosages,
  • wrong diagnoses,
  • surgery on the “wrong body part(s),”
  • surgeons/technicians leaving surgical instruments or products inside  patients,
  • surgery resulting in unremitting back pain.

Contact us if you, or a loved one, has been seriously injured (or has died) due to the medical negligence of a hospital, clinic, physician, surgeon, nurse or therapist.  Our medical malpractice lawyers take the time to get to know–and to thoroughly understand–our clients and their difficulties.

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