The following article is part of our series on medical malpractice law in Pennsylvania. This article has been adapted from our free eBook titled What You Need To Know To Protect Yourself And Your Rights. (Click here to download the full e-book.)
What IS Considered Medical Malpractice in Pennsylvania?
Medical malpractice is when a hospital, doctor, nurse or other healthcare organization or provider provides substandard medical care that causes injury or death to a patient. In short, it is when a doctor, nurse or hospital doesn’t do their job and, as a result, someone gets hurt or dies.
Healthcare Provider Malpractice
The law in Pennsylvania requires healthcare providers like doctors and nurses to have the same knowledge and skill and use the same care when treating a patient. This is called the standard of care.
This is the standard that medical professionals in Pennsylvania must meet in order to provide safe care to patients. When a doctor or nurse’s knowledge, skill or care of a patient falls below the required patient care standard and as a result the patient is harmed – that is medical malpractice.
Healthcare institutions like hospitals can be held liable for medical malpractice. A healthcare institution is directly liable to the patient if it violates one of the duties it owes to the patient to ensure the patient’s safety. The law in Pennsylvania requires hospitals and other medical institutions to uphold 4 patient safety duties.
If a hospital violates any of these rules and, as a result, a patient is harmed or dies, then the hospital is directly liable to the patient for medical malpractice.
What IS NOT Considered Medical Malpractice in Pennsylvania?
As important as it is to know what medical malpractice is, it is also important to know what medical malpractice is not. The fact is, that most healthcare, even a poor outcome, is NOT medical malpractice. Also, in our experience, most doctors and nurses have the best intentions for their patients. But because the stakes are so high in medicine, it is common for patients or their families to wonder if a poor outcome was preventable. The following is a list of common occurrences that people think might be medical malpractice but is not.
Additionally, because of how difficult medical malpractice claims are to win for the patient combined with how expensive they are, many claims that technically could be considered medical malpractice cannot be handled because the care at issue is defensible and/or the injuries are not significant enough to warrant the risk and costs.