Doctors, nurses, surgeons, physicians, and everyone working within the medical field are required to comply with strict accepted standards of practice. Any behavior or medical application that goes outside of these standards could be grounds for medical malpractice.
For example, medical guidelines might clearly state that a person of such height and weight be administered a precise amount of anesthesia before surgery. An anesthesiologist that supplies any amount above or below that practiced standard is potentially committing a form of medical malpractice.
But can you file an injury claim, or otherwise try to sue, a medical practitioner just for going ignoring or failing to meet accepted standards of care and practice? Can you sue your doctor for a medical issue that almost or very likely could have happened?
Only Real Damages Can Lead to Real Recoveries
A doctor that knowingly goes outside accepted standards has inarguably blundered. However, medical malpractice is legally defined by multiple circumstances coming together, not just this one.
For medical malpractice to have occurred, the following must be provable:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed or could be reasonably assumed.
- The doctor went outside usual and accepted safety methods and practice standards.
- The unacceptable practice caused the patient to suffer an injury or develop a condition.
- Treating that injury or condition cost the patient money, or caused them to experience pain.
The key to the question of “can you sue for a medical malpractice injury that almost happened” hinges upon the third and fourth prerequisites in the legal definition. For example: your doctor could feasibly tell you to take three-times the acceptable dosage of a prescription medicine, but you cannot seek compensation unless real harm was done by the excessive dosage. As another example: a surgeon could be intoxicated while operating on a patient, but if the patient was not harmed and the surgery was a resounding success, there will be no grounds to sue for medical malpractice. The most you could expect from such cases would be for that doctor to face administrative penalties, such as a suspension of their licenses.
With this in mind, the answer is ultimately no, you cannot sue a doctor for a medical issue that could have happened but actually did not. This is the same as being unable to sue someone who nearly hurt you in an accident but, thankfully, no one was injured in the end.
For more information about personal injury claims and an injured parties rights, whether regarding a medical malpractice case or not, you can contact Webb & Taylor, LLC and our Peachtree City personal injury lawyers. We have more than 30 years of experience managing injury cases of all sorts, from car accidents to misdiagnoses.