315 E. Charles St.
Muncie, Indiana 47305
FAX: (765) 747-1991
In Simple Terms - What is Medical Malpractice / Negligence
Medical malpractice or preventable medical error is actually medical "negligence" from a legal perspective. In very general terms, "negligence" is the failure to use such care as a reasonably prudent and careful person would use under similar circumstances. Negligence is a tort. A tort is simply a private or civil wrong or injury. Generally in medical negligence, the physician (or other health care provider) breaches a certain standard of health care that causes the patient injury (damages). In other words, the legal elements of negligence are (a) duty, breach (of that duty), (that is a) causation and (of the resulting) damage.
Whether a health care provider owes a duty to a patient (claimant) is a question of law . In general, the standard of care owed to a patient by a physician is that he must exercise "that degree of care, skill, and proficiency exercised by reasonably careful, skillful, and prudent practitioners in the same class to which he belongs, acting under the same or similar circumstances." A similar standard of care is applied to other providers.
The breach of the duty of care has to be both a direct and proximate cause of the negligent injury. Without going into detail and as merely a simple illustration of causation the following example is offered: "but for" the physician's negligent act or omission (breach of the duty of care) the patient's injury would not have occurred.
In general, examples of damages recoverable include medical expenses, lost wages (economic losses), pain and suffering, lost of consortium and so forth. Indiana has a cap on damages recoverable. The total amount recoverable for an act of medical malpractice in Indiana that occurs after June 30, 1999, is $1,250,000.