What is Hospital Malpractice?

N. Madison
N. Madison

Hospital malpractice is a serious situation in which a staff member of a hospital provides care that can be considered negligent or substandard, resulting in the harm of a patient. There is a basic standard of care that is considered reasonable in the medical field. It is expected that competent professionals in the medical field will provide at least that minimum level of care and treatment. When a member of a hospital's medical staff fails to live up to this expectation, the hospital may be accused of hospital malpractice.

Hospital malpractice, or negligence is punishable by law and can result in severe consequences.
Hospital malpractice, or negligence is punishable by law and can result in severe consequences.

Often, people think of medical malpractice in terms of doctors and surgeons. Any member of a hospital’s staff may be accused of it, however. For example, nurses and technician who work for a hospital may be accused of malpractice. Likewise, pharmacists and a full range of other staff members may be accused as well. Often, these accusations lead to lawsuits.

Hospital malpractice can occur when a hospital staff member has provided substandard service.
Hospital malpractice can occur when a hospital staff member has provided substandard service.

There are many situations that may be considered hospital malpractice. For example, if a doctor or surgeon provides an incorrect diagnosis or fails to treat a patient appropriately, this may be considered hospital malpractice. Likewise, a nurse who fails to monitor a patient’s condition appropriately may be accused of malpractice. If a doctor or surgeon fails to order diagnostic tests that he should have ordered, he may face a malpractice accusation. Even something as simple as failing to refer patients to a specialist can be considered malpractice if a specialist’s help is clearly needed.

An experienced malpractice attorney can play a key role in winning lawsuits against hospitals and doctors.
An experienced malpractice attorney can play a key role in winning lawsuits against hospitals and doctors.

Sometimes hospital malpractice occurs when a hospital staff member prescribes or administers the wrong medication or incorrect dose, or uses anesthesia or medical care equipment in an improper manner. In other cases, a surgeon may even operate on the wrong patient or perform the wrong surgery. Hospital malpractice accusations may follow surgeries that were performed without the patient’s consent or those that weren't medically necessary. Preventable infections can be the cause of malpractice accusations as well. This may occur, for example, when hospital staff members fail to take reasonable steps to prevent infections.

There is greater risk of hospital malpractice in an emergency room due to the quick response time that physicians need to provide.
There is greater risk of hospital malpractice in an emergency room due to the quick response time that physicians need to provide.

Some of the most serious and frightening cases of hospital malpractice involve surgeries gone wrong. For example, a case of hospital malpractice may occur when a surgeon injures a patient by making a mistake during surgery. Sometimes these mistakes even lead to the death of the patient. Additionally, a surgeon may be accused of malpractice after leaving surgical tools inside his patient when he closes his incisions.

In extreme cases of hospital malpractice, the charge may be related to a botched surgery.
In extreme cases of hospital malpractice, the charge may be related to a botched surgery.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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