ELI5: Medical Malpractice

ELI5: Negligence


What in the world are all these lawyers saying when they’re talking about medical malpractice? If you’ve been injured by a medical professional, you’re likely hearing the term a lot, especially if you’ve contacted a personal injury attorney. Though it may sound confusing, overwhelming, and just downright fancy, medical malpractice isn’t all that complicated. However, medical malpractice covers a lot of mistakes and a lot of medical care providers can be responsible for medical malpractice. So, if you’re feeling lost and overwhelmed, don’t stress: at Moxie Law Group, we’re dedicated to providing everyone with the tools and resources they need to understand even the most complex parts of your case. That’s why we’re doing an explain like I’m five, or ELI5, for medical malpractice.


In the simplest terms possible, medical malpractice is what happens when a medical provider makes a mistake. A medical provider can be a brain surgeon, family doctor, CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant), or anything in between—even therapists can be sued for medical malpractice. If the person provides medical care to a patient, there’s a good chance they can be sued for medical malpractice if they make a mistake and someone gets hurt. Now, let’s talk about what it means to make a mistake. A mistake can happen when a medical professional forgets to do something, does something incorrectly, does something they shouldn’t have done, and much more. There are a lot of ways a person can be liable for medical malpractice. We’ll go over the most common ways medical malpractice injures patients.


Medical professionals can be sued for medical malpractice when they injure a patient by doing something outside the scope of their practice. You can think of scope of practice kind of like a job description. For example, a CNA may be allowed to give patients medicine and that’s probably within their job description. However, a CNA likely isn’t qualified to perform brain surgery and brain surgery is likely outside the scope of the CNA’s practice. If a CNA injures a patient while performing brain surgery on them, and the patient is harmed by the CNA’s lack of experience, the CNA may be liable. This is because the CNA isn’t qualified to perform brain surgery. Also, brain surgery isn’t likely in the CNA’s job description, or scope of practice, so they probably shouldn’t have been doing it.


A medical professional can be sued for medical malpractice when they forget to do something that they should have done. Most doctors are very intelligent and truly want to do a good job, but sometimes they can get so busy that things just get overlooked. So, if your doctor simply forgets to give you the medication you need, and you are injured because the doctor forgot, you may have a claim against the doctor. Or, if your doctor forgets to order certain tests, or informs you of your diagnosis and you get hurt because of that, you may also have a case against the doctor. If a doctor forgets to follow certain steps of a procedure, they may also be responsible for any injuries they cause because of their mistake. Medical professionals can leave patients with serious injuries due to forgetfulness. However, that’s not the only way medical professionals may be on the hook for medical malpractice.


Medical malpractice can mean that a medical professional just made a mistake and did the wrong thing. The mistakes that cause people to file a medical malpractice claim can be big mistakes with big consequences, or small mistakes with small consequences. Problems with medication, such as giving people the wrong dose, are relatively frequent when it comes to mistakes involving medical malpractice. It also isn’t uncommon for a medical professional to give a patient the wrong medicine. When performing surgery, if the doctors and nurses aren’t very careful counting all of the tools and other things they use, a needle, or tool, or sponge can get left inside the patient. The surgeon must also be very careful not to cut too deep or too far, or cut the wrong thing. In extreme cases, medical professionals have even made the mistake of performing the wrong surgery on a patient. In all of the aforementioned cases, the medical professionals had made a mistake and their mistake had injured the patient, which would probably be considered medical malpractice.


All doctors have what’s called a “duty” to take care of their patients. In some circumstances, doctors have a more specific duty to care for their patient in a certain way. In order to have a strong medical malpractice claim, you’ll need to prove that the doctor breached their duty and that you’re injured because of the breach of duty. To say that a doctor breached their duty is kind of like saying they didn’t do their job correctly. With the practice of medicine, things don’t always go the way we want them to. Sometimes there’s only so much a doctor can do and your injury may not entirely be fixed. If you have a badly broken leg, for example, you may end up limping for the rest of your life no matter how good your doctor was. Or, there may only be so much that a doctor can do to relieve your pain. Injuries and treatment are almost always painful. Sometimes, the doctor really is doing the best they can but it doesn’t turn out the way you hoped. So, just because you have a bad experience, doesn’t mean you have a good medical malpractice claim. If you have surgery on your foot, and your foot aches immediately after the surgery, you probably cannot sue the doctor for medical malpractice. This is because soreness immediately after surgery is normal and does not indicate that your doctor made a mistake. 

Informed Consent

Before a doctor performs any procedure on you, they should inform you about the procedure, what exactly they are going to do, and what the risks and benefits of the procedure are. That’s the “informed” part. They should then make sure that you understand and “consent” to the procedure after knowing all of the risks involved. That way, if something happens that is a known risk, it’s not a surprise to you because you knew ahead of time that it could happen and you agreed to it. If the doctor fails to properly inform you of all of the possible risks involved or doesn’t give you all of the information you need to make a good decision regarding your treatment, the lack of informed consent could be considered medical malpractice. 

Standard of Care

One of the best ways to determine medical malpractice is by looking at what’s called the “standard of care.” The standard of care is another way of referring to the expectations that doctors should follow when they are taking care of someone. It’s sometimes defined as the way that a reasonable, prudent medical provider in the same specialty would take care of their patients. In other words, the actions of a nose doctor would be compared to the actions of other nose doctors. If the nose doctor did something in a different way than most nose doctors do, and the patient is injured, they might have violated the standard of care and committed malpractice. 


If you’re looking for medical malpractice lawyers in Utah, Moxie Law Group is here for you. There are a lot of medical malpractice lawyers in Utah. But we’re one of the first female-led personal injury firms. We’re committed to fighting for the compensation our clients deserve with determination, character, and nerve. If you need an attorney with Moxie, contact us today for a free consultation.

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