Medical Malpractice: What Does and Does Not Legally Constitute Medical Malpractice

For the most part, those working and serving in the health care industry are hard-working, competent professionals with their patients’ best interests in mind. But despite rigorous training, screening, and qualifications that may be met, it is virtually impossible to guarantee the consistent performance of all of the professionals in the field.

However, not every negative outcome, imperfect diagnosis, or incomplete recovery can be considered an instance of what is known in legal terms as “medical malpractice.” Before outlining what does constitute medical malpractice in Chicago, as well as across the rest of the country, it is instructive to explore why not every disappointing medical outcome qualifies.

Legally, the practice of medicine is considered almost as much an art as it is a science. Some parts of the body are very well understood and explained by modern medicinal research. But many of its behaviors are still somewhat of a mystery. Different people may react to the same treatment in different ways, and sometimes the same person’s body will suddenly change the way it reacts to a consistent influence for no apparent rhyme or reason that we are able to determine. If the human body were entirely predictable, consistent, and understood, medicine would be simple. Health problems would be like equations: balanced by the insertion of a specific value, which would be the medicine or treatment.

But because this is not how the body works, treatment of ailments and chronic conditions is neither simple nor straightforward. However, there are many things that we do know with considerable certainty, and medical professionals are expected to draw on these things to make logical, educated, and informed inferences about the things we don’t know.

This expectation is what establishes what is know, legally, as the “standard of care.” Deviation from the standard of care is one of the two parts that can qualify an incident as medical malpractice. The standard of care is determined by comparing the behavior of a medical professional to what his or her peers consider an appropriate response to the given situation. Then, if a deviation from the standard of care has been shown, that behavior must be directly linked to the injury in question. If the injury might have happened otherwise, or could have happened for a different reason, it will be difficult to prove medical malpractice in court.

However, just as each human body differs from others, each medical situation differs as well, as do state laws that apply to medical malpractice cases. If you suspect that the actions of a medical professional have caused harm to yourself or a loved one, this article should provide you with preliminary information. But, it is advisable to contact a Chicago medical malpractice attorney for a consultation based on your specific circumstances to obtain a clearer understanding of your scenario as well as your legal options.