By Nora Thomason on January 11, 2009
A doctor's office or hospital room is supposed to be a place of comfort and healing. However, for quite a few unfortunate people who become victims of medical malpractice or medical mistakes, these places can turn into places of horror. Some don't survive. For many who do, their medical nightmares never end.
How unfortunate that individuals going to hospitals for necessary health care must worry about contracting a new illness during their stay. This is simply unacceptable, and perhaps greater transparency of hospital infection rates would, literally, incentivize hospitals to clean up their act. (Sen. Barack Obama in letter to someone that contracted disease from a hospital stay, 2005)While Senator Obama was duly empathetic in that letter, Congress has not done anything to protect patients from harm. Apparently, patients have only one reliable method of recourse - lawsuit - a long, difficult and costly method to seek retribution for harm done to them by doctors or hospitals. And, it may be the only way that doctors and hospitals are effectively asked to improve care and avoid harm.
Medical malpractice law traces its roots back to 19th Century English common law. The law that developed concerning medical malpractice is part of the more general body of law dealing with injuries to people or property, known as “tort law.” Medical malpractice cases are an example of one particular type of tort, the tort known as “negligence.”
The concept of negligence is that people should be reasonably careful in what they do, and, if they are not, they should be held responsible for the injuries that can be reasonably foreseen as resulting from their negligent conduct.