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The Basics of Medical Malpractice and Negligence

Medical malpractice is defined as improper, unskilled, or negligent treatment of a patient by a medical professional. Negligence is defined as a failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances. It is important to know and understand what these terms mean for anyone who comes in contact with medical professionals. As a patient, it is your responsibility to make sure you are aware of your rights when dealing with medical professionals.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

Stethoscope & Gavel

Medical malpractice occurs when errors are made in the treatment of a patient. This can occur for many reasons, but some of the primary ones are as follows:

  • A doctor making an incorrect decision, either intentionally or unintentionally.
  • A medical professional practicing medicine outside of his or her field.
  • Failure to obtain the proper consent required by law.
  • Negligent treatment of a patient.

When any of these situations arise, the patient has the legal right to sue the appropriate medical professionals. In Arizona, according to the statute of limitations, a patient has two years after the cause of action accrues to file a medical malpractice case. Arizona does not limit the amount awarded for recovery of damages, as it is unconstitutional according to the state constitution.

What Is Negligence According to Arizona Law?

Negligence is a form of medical malpractice. It occurs when a doctor does not care for a patient in the way he or she should. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Expectations of a patient are two-fold: Doctors and hospitals are expected to provide medical treatment with all the knowledge and skill at their command, and secondly, they will not do anything to harm the patient in any manner either because of their negligence, carelessness, or reckless attitude of their staff.” When one of these expectations is not being met, it is possible that negligence has occurred. Negligence cannot be committed by a careful person who is being mindful and thoughtful in their duties.

One way a doctor can be guilty of negligence is failing to obtain the proper consent. Patients are required to give informed consent before procedures are performed unless they are not able to do so. In that case, usually a family member or delegated person is able to provide consent for the individual. In emergency situations when no one is available to provide consent, there is implied consent to save a person’s life unless the patient has documentation indicating other instructions, such as a DNR.

In conclusion, it is important to keep yourself well-informed as a patient. Knowing what to expect from your doctor and understanding his recommendation is not just important, it is your right in the state of Arizona. Staying educated and informed will ensure that you are getting the best care possible and that you have not fallen victim to medical malpractice.

About Gonzales & Poirier, PLLC

The Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier provide legal services in Flagstaff, Arizona. If you are in need of a lawyer, please contact our firm today about your case by calling (855) 774-5400. We offer free consultations 24/7, affordable rates, and have payment plans available.
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