What is Considered Medical Malpractice? 

By Ben Gobel on October 31, 2023

Photo of a Gavel and Stethoscope

Patients place an implicit trust in their healthcare providers and the hospital and medical centers they entrust with their well-being. However, when medical negligence occurs, it can have a devastating impact in terms of physical injury, income loss, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and other life-altering consequences for patients and their families.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice in Pennsylvania?

Medical malpractice in Pennsylvania refers to a specific area of law that governs situations where a healthcare provider’s negligence or failure to adhere to a standard of care results in harm to a patient. Medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania are primarily governed by the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE) Act. This Act establishes the procedures and standards for medical malpractice claims in the state.

Breach of Medical Standard of Care in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, the standard of care in the field of medicine is the level of care, skill, and treatment that a reasonably competent healthcare provider in the same field would provide under similar circumstances. Key points regarding the breach of the standard of care in Pennsylvania’s medical malpractice law include:

Medical Expertise: To establish a breach of the standard of care, the plaintiff (the injured patient or their representative) typically needs to rely on the expert testimony of a qualified medical expert.

Specificity: The expert testimony should be specific and provide a clear explanation of how the defendant’s actions or omissions failed to meet the established standard of care.

Causation: In addition to demonstrating a breach of the standard of care, the plaintiff must also establish that this breach directly caused the patient’s injury or harm.

Documentation: The medical records, documents, and evidence are critical in establishing what care was provided, what decisions were made, and whether they align with the standard of care.

Types of Medical Negligence in Pennsylvania

Medical negligence can take various forms in Pennsylvania. Some common types of medical negligence in Pennsylvania include:

  • Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis: This occurs when a healthcare provider fails to accurately diagnose a medical condition or makes the diagnosis too late. Such errors can lead to delayed treatment, and in some cases, the progression of a disease or condition.
  • Surgical Errors: Surgical negligence can include wrong-site surgery, improper surgical technique, leaving surgical instruments or foreign objects inside a patient’s body, and other avoidable errors during surgery.
  • Medication Errors: These errors can occur when healthcare providers prescribe the wrong medication, administer the wrong dosage, or fail to consider a patient’s allergies or potential drug interactions.
  • Birth Injuries: These involve injuries to newborns or mothers during childbirth due to medical negligence. Examples include improper use of forceps, failure to monitor fetal distress, or negligence during a cesarean section.
  • Anesthesia Errors: Anesthesia-related negligence can result in complications or injuries during surgery, such as administering too much or too little anesthesia, failing to monitor a patient’s vital signs, or not properly informing the patient of pre-anesthesia instructions.
  • Hospital-Acquired Infections: These are infections that patients contract while in a healthcare facility due to inadequate infection control measures. Hospital staff must take precautions to prevent the spread of infections.
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Types of Evidence a Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Lawyer Will Collect to Prove Liability

A proven and resourceful Pittsburgh medical malpractice lawyer will collect various types of evidence to build a strong case and prove liability in a medical malpractice claim.

  • Medical Records: These may include surgical reports, hospital charts, physician’s notes, test results, x-rays, MRIs, or other radiological reports, and other relevant documents.
  • Expert Testimony: Expert witnesses, such as medical professionals in the same field, can provide testimony to establish the standard of care and explain how the defendant’s actions deviated from it.
  • Informed Consent Forms: These forms, or a lack thereof, can show whether patients were adequately informed about the risks and alternatives to medical procedures.
  • Prescription and Medication Records: Documentation of the medications prescribed and administered can reveal instances of medication errors or adverse drug reactions.
  • Pathology Reports and Lab Results: These reports can provide insights into the accuracy of diagnostic tests and the interpretation of lab results.
  • Witness Statements: Statements from individuals who were present during the medical treatment, including patients, family members, or healthcare staff, can provide valuable insights into what occurred.
  • Photographs and Visual Evidence: Visual evidence, such as photos of injuries, surgical sites, or medical equipment, can help illustrate the extent of the harm and any wrongdoing.
  • Video Footage: In some cases, surveillance footage from medical facilities may be available and can be used as evidence to support the claim.
  • Hospital Policies and Procedures: Healthcare facilities typically have established policies and procedures that should be followed. Deviations from these policies can be used to demonstrate negligence.

Get the Leading Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Attorneys on Your Side Today

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries or complications due to medical malpractice, the dedicated Pittsburgh medical malpractice lawyers at Ogg, Murphy & Perkosky, P.C. are determined to fight for your rights and obtain maximum compensation on your behalf. To schedule your free case evaluation, call us today at (412) 207-3286.