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medical malpracticeNegligent conduct or unreasonable lack of skill in the performance of a medical task, either on the part of a physician or a party (e.g., a healthcare facility) in which that act or task occurs.
In a 5-year period, 48% of surgeons and surgical specialists, 34% of obstetricians, 34% of anaesthesiologists and 15% of other physicians had had malpractice claims; 85% of all payments were made on behalf of 3% of policy holders.
Elements to be proven for plaintiff to prevail
• Duty—The plaintiff must prove the existence of a legal relationship (i.e., a duty between himself and the defendant);
• Breach of duty—Once duty is established, the plaintiff must prove that the physician breached that duty by failing to comply with accepted standards of care by malfeasance (an act not conforming to accepted standard of practice) or by non-malfeasance (failure to perform an act expected under the circumstances);
• Damages—The plaintiff must prove that he or she has sustained some injury as a result of the alleged negligent act, which can translate into a monetary value: either compensatory (tangible; as in lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical expenses) or punitive (intangible; often in the form of “pain and suffering”, where multimillion-dollar awards are not uncommon); and
• Causation—The plaintiff must prove a reasonable connection between the alleged negligent act or omission of the defendant and the suffered injury.