Medical Malpractice: Criminal Vs. Civil Responsibility

by melaniedfleury on August 27, 2013

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Medical Malpractice: Criminal Vs. Civil Responsibility

Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is injured while under the care of a medical professional. According to one Maryland medical malpractice attorney, medical error is a significant problem that leads to nearly 100,000 deaths per year. An injury can be minor or serious; extent of the injury is not a qualification for malpractice. However, most medical malpractice cases are civil cases and not criminal.

What Distinguishes A Civil Medical Malpractice Case From A Criminal Malpractice Case?

For medical malpractice to occur, four events must take place:

• Duty. There must be a patient/doctor relationship to establish the duty of the medical professional to the patient to perform a service.

• Breech. There must be a breech in that duty committed by the doctor in failure to provide adequate service.

• Damage. The patient must have experienced damage, either physically or monetarily due to that breech.

• Causation. The cause of that damage can be directly attributed to the breech made by the doctor.

These are standard guidelines for medical malpractice and what constitutes a civil case. Since most medical malpractice instances occur as the result of a mistake, they can easily be tried under these guidelines. But what happens if it was not a simple oversight or mistake?

Criminal medical malpractice is rare, but it does occur. To distinguish the difference between a civil and a criminal case, the criminal case must meet the four standards listed above, and it must also prove one or more of the following:

• Gross negligence.
• Unjustifiable risks to the patient.
• Practicing under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
• Deception or improper motive for the medical treatment.
• Willful disregard to human life or depraved indifference to human life.
• Lack of response to a critical situation or untimely response to any situation.
• Wonton disregard to medical industry standards for a procedure or treatment plan.
• Repetitive use of medical treatments that have been failures in the past in their practice.
• Practicing without a license, certification, or misrepresenting what credentials they have earned.

What To Do If You Have Been Injured By Medical Malpractice

If you have been injured while receiving medical treatment, you should seek legal services from a personal injury attorney who specializes in this area of law. A medical malpractice lawyer will be able to skillfully review your medical records and determine if the damages fall under civil or criminal charges.

Your attorney will have the ability to review other records about the doctor and see if they are repeat offenders, or if this is truly a unique incident. Through their investigations, the law firm will be able to determine how to proceed with this case.

In the end, it is almost relieving to state that nearly all medical malpractice cases are civil cases. It is a relief to think that there are not many doctors out their maliciously and criminally practicing medicine. However, any injury sustained at the hands of a doctor is not acceptable. People go to the doctor for help, not to be further injured. Anyone who has been injured by a medical professional is encouraged to seek damages. This is one of the few ways that you can force the medical profession to remain concerned about its actions.

Melanie Fleury has undergone several surgeries in the past few years. Everyone should be able to trust their physicians, as Melanie has, to provide the best care possible. Price Benowitz LLP, a Maryland medical malpractice attorney, knows that not every bad result is because of medical malpractice and that every case is unique. By consulting a local attorney, you can determine if your case can be made in a court of law.

Melanie Fleury is a freelance blogger who enjoys writing about the law.

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  • lauralouise90

    Any case of medical or GP negligence needs to be taken seriously, but the question of criminal or civil responsibility will always be there – it’s always a tough question too.

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