each year. Individuals can file medical malpractice claims when a health care or medical professional deviates from their profession’s “standard of care” causing a patient injury. Examples include surgeries that operate on the wrong limb or organ or other treatment to which the patient did not consent; incorrect diagnosis; or incorrect treatment, among others. Other parties against which claims may be filed include hospitals; local, state, or federal agencies that operate health or hospital facilities; and more than one doctor.
Medical malpractice claims are subject to statutes of limitations, which can vastly differ between states. In addition, legal requirements surrounding medical malpractice claims vary across the United States. Partially due to powerful health care lobbying, several states have passed legislation that makes it more difficult for patients to bring and win medial malpractice actions. For instance, some states may require patients to submit a claim to a panel, which determines whether a claim occurred and can go forwards. If the panel concludes that no negligence occurred, then the court may dismiss the case. However, if the panel finds the medical or healthcare professional negligent, then the patient can proceed with their claim. Medical malpractice claims may also be limited in the amount a patient can receive in damages according to state code or require a “certificate of merit” from another health expert that the plaintiff’s provider deviated from standard medical practices.