When another person causes an injury or other damages, you can pursue a personal injury claim to recover your losses. However, if the person who injured you was a doctor administering medical treatment, it’s first vital to determine whether medical malpractice occurred. A medical malpractice lawsuit will follow a similar framework to a personal injury lawsuit with a few notable exceptions. In California, a medical malpractice claim will need to pass through the Medical Board of California before you can proceed with your lawsuit.
Starting Your Medical Malpractice Claim
It’s important to remember that medicine is an inherently uncertain field. New treatments show promise for a variety of conditions, and medical science has advanced tremendously in recent years. Individual reactions to medical conditions and diseases can differ greatly as well. A margin of error always exists in medicine, and even an accomplished, skilled, and competent medical professional can make an honest mistake.
The Medical Board of California reviews medical malpractice claims to determine whether the claimant has grounds for a lawsuit. Essentially, the medical board reviews the details of the claim to determine if the defendant in the claim failed to meet the acceptable standard of care for the patient’s situation. If the board finds that the plaintiff has grounds for a medical malpractice claim, it may investigate and press charges, if necessary. Approval from the medical board is one of the most important requirements for filing a medical malpractice claim in California.
Standard of Care
The medical community reaches consensus for known medical conditions to decide the best methods for treating those conditions. New treatments, medications, and therapies require thorough testing before the medical community can rely on them on a regular basis. The “standard of care” is the level of treatment the medical community recommends for a condition. If a physician fails to meet this standard of care or deviates from the standard of care without justification and harms the patient, the physician commits medical malpractice.
It’s important to note that medical negligence does not necessarily equate to medical malpractice. Medical negligence describes a deviation from the standard of care, while medical malpractice describes a deviation resulting in patient harm. It’s possible for a defendant to have committed medical negligence without committing medical malpractice. If the patient did not suffer any harm from the defendant’s negligence, there is no claim.
The Medical Board of California also investigates claims pertaining to sexual misconduct, the administration of medical treatment under the influence of drugs or alcohol, substandard medical care, improper prescription practices, unprofessional conduct, and office practice complaints. It’s possible for a medical malpractice claim to touch on many of these issues, so the Medical Board’s investigation will be critical to a subsequent lawsuit.
The Claim Process
Once the Medical Board of California receives your complaint and determines that the claim falls within its jurisdiction, it will mail you an acknowledgment of receipt of your claim. A medical board analyst may contact you to request documentation related to your claim or to release some of your medical records. Once the board has your complaint and the necessary documentation, a medical consultant will review the complaint to determine whether the claim has grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
No one can predict how long the claims process will take. Each case has many unique factors that may complicate the process. The board’s responsibility is to investigate any claims of medical professionals violating the standard of care for their patients and pursuing administrative action against those professionals if necessary. Once you know that the defendant in your claim violated the standard of care in your treatment, an experienced Bakersfield medical malpractice lawyer can help you build your case and take your next steps toward recovery.