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An Introduction to Medical Malpractice in the United States

Abstract

Medical malpractice law in the United States is derived from English common law, and was developed by rulings in various state courts. Medical malpractice lawsuits are a relatively common occurrence in the United States. The legal system is designed to encourage extensive discovery and negotiations between adversarial parties with the goal of resolving the dispute without going to jury trial. The injured patient must show that the physician acted negligently in rendering care, and that such negligence resulted in injury. To do so, four legal elements must be proven: (1) a professional duty owed to the patient; (2) breach of such duty; (3) injury caused by the breach; and (4) resulting damages. Money damages, if awarded, typically take into account both actual economic loss and noneconomic loss, such as pain and suffering.

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Acknowledgments

I thank M.M. Manring, Ph.D., for his assistance in preparing this manuscript.

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Correspondence to B. Sonny Bal MD, MBA.

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The author certifies that he or she has no commercial associations (eg, consultancies, stock ownership, equity interest, patent/licensing arrangements, etc) that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with the submitted article.

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Bal, B.S. An Introduction to Medical Malpractice in the United States. Clin Orthop Relat Res 467, 339–347 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11999-008-0636-2

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Keywords

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Malpractice Claim
  • Jury Trial
  • Medical Negligence