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What Pennsylvania residents know about medical malpractice

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that medical malpractice is currently the third most common form of death in America -- just behind heart disease and cancer. In 2012, in excess of $3 billion was paid out in medical malpractice judgments and settlements. More frightening statistics could be cited about medical negligence, but there, the average consumer needs to know more than just numbers and figures if he or she hopes to avoid becoming one of them.

First, it is important for Pennsylvania residents to know how medical negligence is defined. In general terms, medical malpractice or negligence occurs if a doctor follows a treatment plan that is not in alignment with the universally accepted standard of care. It all comes down to a doctor's negligence and failure to do what any other reasonable doctor would have done in the circumstances.

It is also important to know that, just because a doctor's treatment plan resulted in an injury (or if the treatment did not work), this does not mean medical malpractice has happened. Every case must be reviewed by medical and legal experts to evaluate the viability of a potential lawsuit. Also, even if medical negligence has likely taken place, there are no guaranteed results in such a lawsuit. Indeed, no attorney can make a definitive promise as to the likely outcome of a given claim.

Often, different attorneys have different opinions about the viability of a potential medical malpractice suit. Therefore, if an injured Pennsylvania resident's case is rejected by one attorney, he or she may wish to get a second or third opinion. It is also advisable to do this as soon as possible because of the strict time limitations that apply to filing deadlines relating to such lawsuits.

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