Understand Medical Malpractice Requirements

medical malpractice standard of careMedical malpractice kills 80,000 people each year. However, only 2% of malpractice victims, either families of the deceased or the injured, seek compensation. Many medical malpractice victims don't know they are victims because they don't seek legal counsel.

Not every failed surgery is a medical malpractice case. Practicing medicine comes with probabilities, not certainties. In many cases a surgeon will follow procedures, but not every patient may respond.

Medical malpractice is:

“Treatment by any type of health care professional which does not meet the standard level of care and results in harm to the patient. Failing to take a necessary action or taking an inappropriate action are both malpractice, when they cause harm."

In order to have a medical malpractice case, the victim must establish:

  • There must have been a professional relationship between an individual and the health care provider – this establishes responsibility. Simply calling a doctor’s office to ask a question does not establish a doctor/patient relationship.
  • The health care provider must have acted “beneath the standard level of care” that any health care provider would have used in the identical situation.
  • “Substandard care” must have caused the patient harm.


Medical malpractice is not limited to surgeons. Lawsuits may apply to all fields of healthcare. No healthcare provider is excused from meeting the “standard level of care.”


Besides surgeons or physicians, hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation centers can be held liable for malpractice of medical treatment of a patient. Tainted or errant prescriptions also can hold the pharmacy or pharmacist liable. If not medical malpractice, such a case could come under “product liability.”