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Medical Malpractice

A medical malpractice claim is a claim against a health care provider who made a mistake and that mistake caused harm to their patient.

The first question to determine is whether or not the health care provider made a mistake. People die every day on the operating table even when their health care providers made no mistake. No health care provider is perfect. In fact, many of the current standard treatments will be determined to be substandard treatment in the years to come as new discoveries are constantly made. The health sciences are in a constant state of “practicing” on patients.

The standard to determine if the health care provider has made a mistake is to compare the health care provider’s treatment in a specific case to the standard of care of similar health care providers in similar cases. For example, early in medicine, bloodletting was considered a common and accepted treatment for a myriad of complaints. During that medical era, if a doctor had prescribed bloodletting and the patient had died, the doctor would not have made a mistake as long as the doctor performed the bloodletting similar to the way other health care providers did bloodletting. If, however, a doctor performed bloodletting now for an irritable bowel and the patient died, there would be a claim for malpractice because bloodletting for an irritable bowel syndrome is no longer the accepted medical practice.

Establishing a malpractice claim also requires that the mistake made by the health care provider caused an injury. Frequently, health care providers do make mistakes, but a malpractice claim can only be established if the mistake made by the health care provider is shown to be a direct cause of the injury.

Unfortunately, some health care providers are rude, unprofessional, and make mistakes on their billing. That is not malpractice. A health care provider cannot be sued for poor bedside manner.

Minnesota requires that a health care provider in the same field review the case and offer an opinion on breach of standard of care and causation before a claim may be commenced.


Many legal scholars believe medical malpractice law to be the most difficult area of law to practice. Most states have passed laws that require attorneys to jump through hoops in order to bring a claim to trial. This is not surprising considering that the health care provider associations have had a strong impact on lawmakers.

  1. The most notable lobbying efforts have resulted in many States requiring plaintiffs to have in writing an opinion by another health care provider that malpractice had occurred.
  2. Many States have decreased the time a plaintiff has in bringing a malpractice case by shortening the statute of limitations. Some States have limited the dollar amount that a plaintiff can recover against a negligent health care provider.

It can also be very expensive to take a medical malpractice case to trial. It is not unusual for the expenses, not including attorneys’ fees, to exceed $20,000. Nationwide, plaintiffs who choose to go to trial are successful less than 25% of the time. Statistically, a high percentage of malpractice cases go to trial rather than settle. On top of all these other difficulties is the fact that most of the malpractice cases are quite complicated and require extensive legal and medical knowledge.

All first consultations are free of charge. Contact us via phone (800) 899-5859 or e-mail 24 hours a day.