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Medical error or malpractice?


A: Some people thing they're the same thing. They're not. "Some people make mistakes, as all of us do," is a common theme argued by defense lawyers in malpractice cases in New York. Defense attorneys like to say that their client, Dr. Jones was using his best medical judgment at the time he treated the patient. This is a nice argument to make, if true. But where the doctor's judgment fell below the standard of care and such substandard care caused the patient harm, then he will be held responsible for his actions. Malpractice is a departure from good and accepted medical care in the community in which the doctor practices. That community has been held to be a national community, especially when there are so many board certified physicians. Jurors often times think that it's ok if a doctor makes a mistake- because "We're all human." Again, this argument has a nice feel to it, but just doesn't sit well, because we don't say the doctor made a mistake. We say that on a particular day, at a particular time, the doctor failed to treat/recognize/take action, which caused injury, and that those failures were not mistakes, but either omissions (something that should have been done but was not), or comissions (something that was done, but improperly).