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What Makes A Medical Failure Malpractice?

One question that every medical malpractice law firm has to confront on each case is whether the conduct constitutes malpractice. Not all failures by doctors, nurses, technicians, and other professionals are malpractice. The law has standards for what counts, so take a look at what those are and how they might apply to your case.

Standard of Care

A good way to think of the medical world is as a collection of professions. Not every doctor is qualified to perform surgery, for example, but all surgeons of the same type should use roughly the same techniques. Also, there are broad medical performance standards that ought to apply to everyone, such as making sure equipment isn't left inside patients' body cavities. The various ways each medical sector deals with things establishes a standard of care.

For a medical malpractice lawyer, the first question in every case pertains to whether or not the standard of care was followed. If the answer was no, then any harm done at the time might be considered malpractice.

Getting Professional Opinions

It's normal for a medical malpractice law firm to work with expert witnesses from different professions within the medical world. Usually, the lawyer will send reports and supporting documents, such as blood work and X-rays, to an expert to assess what happened. If something was wrong, the expert will then determine if it was also professionally unacceptable.

Note, however, that the law leaves a lot of room for failure. If a doctor made a good-faith effort to apply the best practices while handling a procedure, it will be much harder to call what they did malpractice.

Objectionable Conduct

One major factor in assessing potential malpractice is if another professional would object to the choices the defendant made. For example, a procedure might be considered three decades out of date. However, that doesn't mean it's necessarily malpractice to use it. The procedure would become malpractice only if another doctor, had they been present at the time, would have stepped in to stop it or at least raised serious concerns about its use. Sometimes an old technique is just old and not necessarily dangerous.


It's typical in all forms of injury law to require a provable degree of harm. A doctor could be cartoonishly bad at their job and might not be liable for malpractice. Through some conspiracy of dumb luck, they might not harm you.

Notably, the harm also has to rise to a level that requires correction. Causing a small bruise probably isn't malpractice, but disfiguring your face likely would be.

To learn more about what constitutes malpractice, contact a medical malpractice lawyer.