Medical malpractice

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Medical malpractice is a broad term which covers both the public perception of adverse events during medical care, and a legal definition of negligence.

In common with other forms of civil claims for negligence, in order to succeed in a claim (lawsuit) the claimant (plaintiff) must successfully demonstrate two things:

  1. That the doctor failed in his/her duty of care towards the patient: they failed to do something that a reasonable person in similar circumstances would have done, or they did something that a reasonable person would not have done
  2. That some harm was caused by this failure to comply with the duty of care

Expert witnesses usually testify in malpractice cases. These witnesses are generally independent experts from the same field of medicine as the defendant. A doctor will not be expected to be the best doctor in the country, but he or she must be shown to have acted in accordance with a reasonable body of medical opinion. This is known as the Bolam Test.

In the United Kingdom such cases are heard by a single judge; in other judiciaries, they may be heard by a jury.


Wikipedia article (the free online encyclopedia) reproduced under the terms of the GNU (General Public License) Free Documentation License.

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