Can an unsuccessful procedure be considered malpractice?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Operations and treatments are not always successful. An unfortunate outcome or injury – even death – may occur, but unexpected circumstances do not mean that the doctor botched a surgery or treatment or committed medical malpractice.

The law recognizes that medicine is not a precise science and that doctors cannot guarantee results. However, the doctor is liable if he or she does not live up to the appropriate professional standards.

Medical malpractice simply means that a doctor did not use the ordinary skill and care used by other doctors in his or her specialty in handling a similar case, and the patient suffered as a result. Examples are if a doctor may commit medical malpractice if he or she fails to diagnose an illness, fails to do tests, makes surgical errors, delays treatment, or makes a medication error.

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