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When does a physician's mistake mean malpractice?

When you go to a doctor, you expect that he or she will use his or her years of training and experience to correctly diagnose and treat the condition you are suffering from. Unfortunately, sometimes when people visit physicians, they become more ill or are injured during the treatment process because of mistakes made by the physician or surgeon, such as misdiagnoses, medication errors or surgical mistakes.

If you are harmed because of a medical mistake, you may already know that you can hold the physician accountable for their mistake by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, how do you know whether the error that harmed you was malpractice or an honest mistake? As physicians and surgeons are only human, some mistakes will happen from time to time.

Distinguishing between malpractice and a simple mistake

In Ohio, three primary things must occur in order for the mistake to constitute malpractice:

· The healthcare provider owed you a duty of care.

· The healthcare provider's treatment deviated from the standard of care.

· You suffered harm as a result of the deviation.

In most cases, it is easy to prove that a healthcare provider owed you a duty of care, as this is established by the existence of a physician-patient relationship. Additionally, it is generally clear whether you have been harmed or injured.

However, it is much more difficult in the majority of cases to tell whether the treatment deviated from the standard of care. Generally, the standard of care owed to you is the level of care you would have received from a physician or surgeon of reasonable skill, care and diligence acting under the same or similar circumstances. When you are trying to determine whether a mistake rose to the level of medical malpractice, ask yourself whether the mistake likely would have occurred had you been treated by a similar doctor (i.e. in the same specialty). If the answer is yes, it is possible that malpractice occurred.

Speak to an attorney

Although there are some clear-cut cases of malpractice (e.g. amputating the wrong limb), many are not so clear. As a result, it is necessary to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney if you are harmed by a medical error. An attorney can analyze your situation to determine whether it is likely malpractice occurred. If there is reason to suspect it had, an attorney can work with expert physicians to establish strong evidentiary proof of malpractice, giving you the greatest likelihood of a successful recovery.

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