What is Medical Negligence?

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What is medical negligence? Trust is the foundation upon which the patient-doctor relationship is built. Patients place their faith in the expertise and compassion of medical professionals, expecting that their well-being will be prioritized above all else. However, medical negligence happens. Trust is shattered, and healthcare becomes the source of harm instead of healing.

Quick Summary:

  • What is Medical Negligence?: Medical negligence is the failure of a healthcare provider to meet the standard of care expected of them, resulting in harm or injury to a patient.
  • Elements of Medical Negligence: To prove medical negligence, four key elements must be demonstrated: Duty of Care, Breach of Duty, Causation, and Damages. 
  • Examples of Medical Negligence: Medical negligence can take various forms, from misdiagnosis and surgical errors to medication mistakes and birth injuries.
  • What to Do If You Suspect Medical Negligence: If you suspect medical negligence, there are several steps you need to take to protect your rights. 
  • Filing a Medical Negligence Lawsuit: Pennsylvania has specific deadlines for filing a medical negligence lawsuit. Failing to adhere to these deadlines can result in the loss of your legal right to pursue a claim.

PA Malpractice Lawyers P.C. is a trusted and experienced law firm in medical malpractice cases. We advocate for victims of medical negligence, striving to bring justice and accountability to the forefront. Join us as we explore the definition, causes, and consequences of medical negligence, and navigate the legal landscape with insights from our dedicated professionals at PA Malpractice Lawyers P.C. 

What is Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence, often referred to as medical malpractice, is a topic of critical importance that touches the lives of countless individuals and families. It represents a breach of the sacred covenant between healthcare providers and patients, with potentially devastating consequences. 

Medical negligence in Pennsylvania is defined as the failure of a healthcare provider to meet the standard of care expected of them, resulting in harm or injury to a patient. 

If you believe you or a loved one has been a victim of medical negligence in Pennsylvania, it’s essential to consult with our medical malpractice attorney who can assess your case and guide you through the legal process.

What Constitutes Medical Negligence in Pennsylvania?

Establishing medical negligence requires a meticulous and well-structured approach. Whether you are a patient seeking justice, or a family member advocating for a loved one, here are the 4 elements of negligence that you have to demonstrate to prove negligence: 

Duty of Care

The healthcare provider (e.g., doctor, nurse, hospital) owed a duty of care to the patient. This means they had a legal obligation to provide medical treatment that met established standards of care.

Breach of Duty

It must be shown that the healthcare provider breached their duty of care. In other words, their actions or omissions deviated from the accepted standard of care that a reasonably skilled and competent practitioner in the same field would provide under similar circumstances.


There must be a direct causal connection between the breach of duty and the patient’s injury. In other words, the harm suffered by the patient must have been a direct result of the healthcare provider’s negligence.


The patient must have sustained actual harm or damages due to the breach of duty. These damages can be physical, emotional, or financial in nature.

Proving medical negligence in Pennsylvania can be legally complex and requires a detailed understanding of medical and legal principles. It’s essential to seek counsel who can evaluate the specifics of your case and offer advice if you think you or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence.

What are Examples of Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence can take various forms, each representing a failure of healthcare providers to meet the expected standard of care. Here are some examples of medical negligence:

  • Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis: When a healthcare provider fails to accurately diagnose a medical condition, it can lead to delayed or incorrect treatment. For example, a doctor may misdiagnose cancer as a benign condition, resulting in delayed treatment and poorer outcomes.
  • Surgical Errors: Surgical errors can include performing the wrong procedure, operating on the wrong body part, or leaving surgical instruments or foreign objects inside a patient’s body after surgery.
  • Medication Errors: Medication errors can occur when healthcare providers prescribe the wrong medication, administer the wrong dosage, or fail to consider a patient’s allergies or potential drug interactions.
  • Birth Injuries: Negligence during childbirth can lead to birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, or brain damage. Examples include improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors during delivery.
  • Anesthesia Errors: Anesthesia errors can result in serious harm, including brain damage or death. These errors may involve administering too much or too little anesthesia, failing to monitor a patient’s vital signs, or not properly informing the patient about preoperative fasting requirements.
  • Failure to Obtain Informed Consent: Healthcare providers have a duty to inform patients about the risks, benefits, and alternatives of a medical procedure or treatment. Failure to obtain informed consent can be considered negligence.
  • Negligent Post-Operative Care: After surgery, patients require appropriate post-operative care. Negligence in postoperative care can include inadequate monitoring, failure to address complications, or premature discharge from the hospital.
  • Inadequate Follow-Up Care: Healthcare providers must ensure appropriate follow-up care after a procedure or diagnosis. Failure to provide proper follow-up care can lead to complications or worsened conditions.
  • Laboratory and Diagnostic Errors: Errors in laboratory testing or diagnostic imaging, such as misinterpreting test results or failing to follow up on abnormal findings, can constitute medical negligence.
  • Nursing Home Negligence: Negligence in nursing homes can involve issues such as medication errors, neglect, abuse, or failure to provide adequate care and supervision to residents.
  • Psychiatric Malpractice: Negligence in psychiatric care may involve inappropriate treatment, misdiagnosis, or failure to protect patients from self-harm or harm to others.
  • Failure to Monitor Vital Signs: Neglecting to monitor a patient’s vital signs in critical situations, such as during surgery or in the intensive care unit, can result in serious harm or death.

These are just a few examples of medical negligence cases, and each case is unique. 

What Should I Do If I Suspect Medical Negligence?

If you suspect that you or a loved one has been a victim of medical negligence, it’s essential to take the following steps to protect your rights and potentially pursue a medical malpractice claim:

  1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention: If you believe that you are experiencing complications or harm due to medical negligence, your health and well-being should be your top priority. Seek immediate medical attention to address any immediate health concerns.
  2. Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all medical treatment, including dates, names of healthcare providers, medications, procedures, and any symptoms or complications. Document your conversations with healthcare professionals, including what was discussed, recommendations made, and any concerns expressed.
  3. Request Medical Records: Obtain copies of your medical records, including all relevant documentation related to the suspected negligence. These records are crucial evidence in a medical malpractice case.
  4. Consult with Another Healthcare Provider: Seek a second opinion from another healthcare provider to assess your condition and evaluate the care you received. This can help confirm the presence of medical negligence and provide guidance on your ongoing treatment.
  5. Consult with an Attorney: Contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney in your area. Medical malpractice cases are legally complex, and an attorney can evaluate the merits of your case, help you understand your rights, and guide you through the legal process.

Consulting with a legal professional early in the process is often the best course of action to protect your rights and seek justice if medical negligence has occurred.

Can I Sue for Medical Negligence?

Yes, you can sue for medical negligence. You have the legal right to seek compensation and justice through a medical malpractice lawsuit if you believe you have been a victim of negligence in the medical field. However, it’s essential to consult with our medical malpractice attorney to assess the merits of the case and navigate the legal process effectively.

What Should I Do After Proving Medical Negligence?

After proving medical negligence in a legal case, there are several important steps to take to ensure that you can pursue compensation for your injuries and losses. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Consult with Your Attorney: Continue to work closely with your medical malpractice attorney. They will guide you through the post-proving phase and help you navigate the legal process to secure compensation.
  2. Assess Damages: Work with your attorney to assess the damages you have suffered as a result of the medical negligence. Damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, future medical costs, and any other losses related to the negligence.
  3. Settlement Negotiations: If the healthcare provider’s insurance company has not already offered a settlement, your attorney may engage in settlement negotiations. Negotiations can involve back-and-forth discussions and may take some time.
  4. Review Settlement Offers: Carefully review any settlement offers presented by the insurance company. Your attorney will provide advice on whether the offer is fair and whether it adequately compensates you for your damages.
  5. Decision to Accept or Reject: You have the option to accept or reject settlement offers. If the offer is acceptable to you and your attorney, you can choose to settle the case and receive compensation without going to trial.
  6. Trial (if Necessary): If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, the case may proceed to trial. At trial, both parties will present their evidence, witnesses, and legal arguments before a judge and/or jury. The goal is to secure a favorable verdict that awards compensation to you.
  7. Verdict and Compensation: If the case goes to trial and the court finds in your favor, they will determine the amount of compensation to be awarded. The amount will be based on the evidence presented during the trial.
  8. Post-Trial Motions and Appeals: After a verdict is rendered, either party may file post-trial motions or appeals if they believe there were legal errors or irregularities during the trial. This can extend the legal process.
  9. Enforcement of Judgment: If you are awarded compensation through a verdict, your attorney will work to enforce the judgment and collect the damages from the defendant. This may involve legal actions such as wage garnishment or asset seizures.
  10. Resolution: Once you have obtained compensation, whether through settlement or a verdict, your case is considered resolved, and the legal process concludes.

Is There a Deadline for Filing a Medical Negligence Lawsuit in Pennsylvania?

Yes, there is a deadline, known as the statute of limitations for filing a medical negligence lawsuit in Pennsylvania. The statute of limitations sets a specific time frame within which a lawsuit must be initiated after the alleged medical negligence occurred. Failing to file within this time frame can result in the loss of your legal right to pursue a claim.

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases in Pennsylvania is generally as follows:

  • Standard Statute of Limitations: A medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two years from the date of the alleged medical negligence or from the date when the injury should have been reasonably discovered. 
  • Minor Children: If the victim of medical malpractice is a minor (under 18 years old), Pennsylvania provides an exception. The statute of limitations does not begin to run until the minor reaches the age of 18. 
  • Statute of Repose: Pennsylvania has a statute of repose that places an absolute cap on the time within which a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed. Regardless of when the injury occurred or was discovered, a medical malpractice lawsuit cannot be filed more than seven years from the date of the alleged negligence. However, there are exceptions to this rule for cases involving foreign objects left in the body or fraudulent concealment.

It’s crucial to be aware of the applicable statute of limitations in your specific case. Failing to meet these deadlines can prevent you from pursuing a medical malpractice claim.

What is Medical Negligence? Let our Medical Negligence Lawyer Help You! 

PA Malpractice Lawyers P.C. understands every case we take on represents an individual or family whose life has been profoundly affected by the failure of the healthcare system. It is our solemn responsibility to ensure that their voices are heard, that accountability is upheld, and that they receive the compensation they deserve to rebuild their lives.

We recognize that pursuing medical negligence cases is about more than just securing financial restitution. It’s about effecting change, promoting transparency, and holding healthcare providers to the highest standards of care. It’s about encouraging a culture of responsibility and continuous improvement within the medical profession.

Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation. Let’s begin your journey toward justice and fair compensation

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