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Is Every Medical Mistake Malpractice?

Nichol & Associates, Attorneys at Law Aug. 31, 2021

When a medical mistake happens in Tennessee, some people think it is automatically malpractice. However, not all errors amount to medical malpractice. Before an incident will be considered to be malpractice, it must first satisfy the elements of medical negligence.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor owes a duty of care to a patient and breaches that duty. The breach of the duty of care must cause injuries to the patient and resulting damages. A doctor’s duty of care doesn’t exist until they form a doctor-patient relationship with patients and agree to treat them They will then have the duty to provide treatment with the same degree of competence that a reasonable physician in the same practice area would.

Even if the doctor’s care does not meet the standard of the care provided by other physicians, a claim for medical malpractice still will not lie unless the doctor’s breach of the duty of care resulted in harm. For example, if a patient does not suffer any additional injuries from a medical error, they will not have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Similarly, if a patient did not suffer any damages from a medical error, they will also not be able to recover compensation.

While people might be unhappy with their treatment outcomes, that does not always indicate that a doctor was medically negligent. Determining whether or not a doctor might have breached the duty of care and caused a patient’s injuries and losses often requires the help of medical experts in the same practice area who can evaluate the patient’s medical records to determine whether or not the doctor’s care fell below the expected standard.