The term “closing the barn after the horse has run away” certainly applies to medical malpractice lawsuits. Suing a doctor for negligence can, by definition, only happen after actual harm has been inflicted. Legally speaking, medical malpractice is a fairly broad concept. However, the base definition includes areas such as improperly administered medical treatment, damages arising from the incompetence of a physician, and the resulting loss in terms of well-being and finances to the patient.
Derived from the Latin term ‘malpractice’, medical malpractice is a legal area that holds the treating physician responsible for deviating from accepted standards of medical practice by failing to guarantee adequate treatment parameters. A patient, while in treatment, is more or less a helpless bystander to the process and has no real control over it. Therefore, loss of health and finances as a result of incompetence or maliciously administered improper treatment imposes a high degree of responsibility on the treating physician. Medical malpractice attorneys specialize in focusing on this liability factor and claiming damages for affected patients.
Negligence claims depend on the nature of the event in question. Simple negligence on the part of the treating physician, while a serious matter, would probably not be treated as harshly in a court of law as improper treatment (through the administration of medication, surgery, or other therapeutic measures). Problems arising from a physician’s incompetence or ignorance would involve a civil lawsuit, while deliberate malice, if proven, would result in criminal charges against the physician and significantly higher restitution in damages to the patient. A good malpractice attorney will evaluate a client’s claim and try to secure the most damages from the offending physician.