What Constitutes Medical Malpractice in Georgia?
Recently, our firm experienced a victory over a negligent doctor who wrongly prescribed a dangerous drug and failed to provide adequate treatment of care in monitoring the patient for any side effects. The doctor’s actions constituted a breach in the doctor’s duty of care to the patient resulting in the patient’s death. While it was a clear-cut case of a doctor’s carelessness and ineptitude causing a horrible wrong, most of the time it is not so easy to diagnose when medical malpractice has occurred. What constitutes medical malpractice is entirely dependent on the situation and is often times hard to correctly identify.
Medical Mistakes are Not Always Medical Malpractice
Medical errors kill more than 251,000 people each year in the United States, arguably constituting the third leading cause of death in the United States, more than respiratory diseases, and accidents. Despite these damning statistics, not every medical error may constitute medical malpractice. Even in cases in which a doctor makes a mistake, that mistake may not rise to the levels of negligence required to constitute medical malpractice.
It is important to note early that just because a patient receives a poor result from their medical care, a broken bone not healing properly, a condition not improving, does not mean that the doctor has committed medical malpractice. Sadly, no matter how much medicine relies on scientific advancement and understanding, the practice of medicine is not an exact science. A doctor who misdiagnoses a patient with a rare disease or fails to catch an underlying condition that was in its early stages is not automatically liable under Georgia law for medical malpractice.
A Reasonably Prudent Health Care Provider
Under the Georgia Code, a person practicing surgery or medicine must exercise a reasonable degree of care and skill. If a doctor does not exercise this degree of care and skill, they have acted negligently and may be liable to the victims of that negligence. Whether or not a doctor will be found to have breached the standard of care expected of them under Georgia law will depend on whether that doctor acted as a reasonably prudent similar healthcare provider should have done under the circumstances.
While that may sound like an objective standard, what a reasonably prudent similar medical professional would have done under the circumstances is actually quite subjective when applied to a specific set of facts. For example, primary care physicians in a rural area may be negligent if they fail to diagnose a common ailment like the flu or pneumonia, but would not be negligent if they failed to recognize a rare tropical disease presenting with the same symptoms. The same may not be said of a doctor who works in a highly specialized field of researching and treating tropical diseases who fails to catch the rare disease.
Consult with a Georgia Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical malpractice cases represent some of the toughest cases to collect damages in. In fact, up to 80% of all medical malpractice lawsuits may ultimately be unsuccessful due to the fact that no medical malpractice may have been committed and the lawsuit was not entirely based in fact.
This startling statistic underscores the importance of consulting with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in order to properly investigate claims of medical malpractice and determine if a sound case exists before proceeding against a healthcare provider. We here at Cash Krugler & Fredericks in Atlanta, GA have decades of experience in helping those wronged by healthcare providers and getting them the compensation and care that they deserve. Contact us today for a confidential consultation by calling (404) 659-1710 or visiting us online.
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