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What Are the Four Elements of Medical Malpractice?

May 21, 2021 | Medical Malpractice


When you visit a doctor or healthcare center, you’re trusting that they’ll do what is best for you medically. But sometimes, these medical professionals fail to provide the standard of care required, harming you in the process.

As an average person, it can be challenging to differentiate between a complicated illness and actual medical malpractice. Changes in treatment plans are not necessarily a sign of malpractice, nor is the fact that you don’t heal immediately.

What Is Medical Malpractice? 

Medical malpractice is when a medical professional or facility is negligent in its care toward a patient, leading to patient injury. Any of the following entities can be guilty of medical malpractice:

  • Hospitals
  • Doctors
  • Any health care professionals

For a situation to be classified as medical malpractice, it must include the following four elements:

  1. The doctor or medical professional must have a duty of care toward the patient. This means that the patient sought medical care from them in some way.
  2. The medical professional or treatment facility breached its duty of care toward the patient by failing to meet the standard of care the industry requires.
  3. The medical professional or facility’s breached duty of care directly caused the patient’s injuries or failure to get better from their ailments.
  4. The patient sustained damages as a result of the medical professional’s breached duty of care. These damages could be physical pain, unnecessary medical bills, mental anguish, missed work, or decreased earning capacity.

Types of Medical Malpractice Situations

Sometimes medical malpractice is a failure to take a certain action. In other cases, it’s taking the wrong action. Here’s a look at some common situations that might constitute medical malpractice:

  • Misdiagnosing a patient or failing to diagnose an ailment
  • Reading laboratory results wrong or failing to read them entirely
  • Performing unnecessary surgery
  • Making a surgical error or operating on the wrong part of the body
  • Prescribing the wrong medication or dosage of the medication
  • Failing to instruct the patient about follow-up or aftercare
  • Discharging a patient too soon
  • Ignoring patient history and not collecting information on patient history when appropriate
  • Not ordering diagnostic testing when other medical professionals would
  • Failing to observe and question patient symptoms

What You Need To Know About Medical Malpractice in Indiana

In Indiana, you have two years from your medical injury or poor care to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. There are some exceptions to this statute of limitations for patients who don’t know about the malpractice until later.

For example, you might know after an operation that you don’t feel right. But you never quite knew why you didn’t feel well until you have X-rays done for something else years later. And then do you discover the doctor left behind medical equipment in your body from the operation. In these circumstances, you’ll have to prove that you didn’t know about the medical malpractice until later.

Additionally, if your case exceeds $15,000 in damages, you must submit a Proposed Complaint to your local Medical Malpractice Review Panel. During the review, the clock stops for up to 90 days or until the review board provides its opinion about the situation.

Connect With Our Office 

Have questions about the medical malpractice definition? Schedule a free consultation with Stewart & Stewart to learn more and get a case evaluation. We’ll guide you in knowing the best next steps for your case and whether you might be the victim of medical malpractice.

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