Updated June 27, 2020

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is defined as improper, unskilled, or negligent treatment of a patient by a physician, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional.

The very concept of medical malpractice is controversial, with doctors claiming that malpractice suits have established an unreasonable financial burden that has increased the cost of medical care. Trial lawyers, on the other hand, maintain that medical malpractice litigation is a useful tool for compensating victims of negligence and policing the medical profession.

Four Elements of Medical Malpractice

Indiana categorizes malpractice as a tort or breach of contract based on healthcare or other professional services that were or should have been provided by a healthcare provider to a patient. In order to prove medical malpractice in Indiana, an attorney must show the four essential elements of a tort: duty, breach, injury, and causation.


If a patient has been treated by a healthcare provider, a duty is created, meaning the healthcare provider owes the patient a duty to act as a reasonably competent physician would under the same or similar circumstances. Doctors have the duty to meet the applicable standard of care.


A patient must establish that a healthcare provider has breached the duty to the patient by failing to meet the applicable standard of care through expert testimony, documentation, and evidence.


The patient must show that they were harmed in such a way as death, disfigurement, deformity, physical loss of function, impairment to bodily or mental function, loss of earning capacity, or reduced chance of recovery.


The injured person must prove that the harm was directly caused by the healthcare provider’s failure to meet the applicable standard of care.

Complications of Medical Malpractice Cases

Despite the fairly simple language used to define medical malpractice, there has been a great deal of court cases surrounding topics such as the following:

  • Who is a patient?
  • When is a doctor-patient relationship formed?
  • When does the duty of care begin, and when does it cease?
  • What is an act or occurrence?
  • What is the cause of an injury?
  • When are injures due to malpractice?

Malpractice cases continue to present a unique set of challenges that require a thorough understanding of both medical and legal issues. A qualified medical malpractice attorney will have experience in navigating these questions as well as Indiana medical malpractice law.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured by medical malpractice, contact the attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. An experienced Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyer at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.

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