The Definition of Medical Malpractice

low angle shot in the operating room - assistant hands out instruments to surgeons during operation

Medical malpractice can be a traumatizing experience, damaging to the patient and medical practitioner alike. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, in medical malpractice litigation, negligence is the predominant theory of liability. In Maryland, jurors are instructed by the Court that, to recover in a medical negligence case, the plaintiff must establish: (a) What the standard of care required at the time the medical care was provided; (b) That the defendant breached the standard of care; and (c) That this breach caused the injury claimed.

You may have heard of negligence being called a “tort” or “unintentional tort.” In fact, the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School has defined medical malpractice as “The tort committed when a professional fails to properly execute their duty to a client”. This unfortunate circumstance is a real detriment to all parties involved. Tort is a term primarily used in the legal field, meaning “[a] private or civil wrong or injury, including action for bad faith breach of contract, for which the court will provide a remedy in the form of an action for damages.” A tort may also be thought of as “[a] legal wrong committed upon the person or property independent of contract.” In the context of torts, “injury” describes the invasion of any legal right, whereas “harm” describes a loss or detriment in fact of any kind to a person, resulting from any cause.”

At its core, it can be deduced that medical malpractice is committed when a patient received inadequate care from a medical professional or organization. Whether it be a surgery that has gone awry, a diagnosis that is deemed to be inaccurate, or a prescription that is not appropriate for the situation at hand, the occurrence of medical malpractice stems from an action or failure to provide proper medical treatment.

While some may be quick to utilize medical malpractice as an overarching term for unsatisfactory results from medical treatment, this is certainly not always accurate. However, due to the nature of the practice, medical malpractice is not defined from a single, concrete set of actions. Generally speaking, patients can expect that they will be receiving care or treatment in accord with the standard care from the healthcare practitioner – while a deviation from these well-established techniques could certainly point in the direction of medical malpractice.

Often resulting in a serious error or case of negligence that results in serious injury or death, medical malpractice is often regarded as a series of actions, accidents, or patterns of neglect that can impair health, cause harm, or worse. However, these unfortunate results are not the sole recipients of malpractice in the medical field. Like everything else, there are subtleties, complications, and degrees of magnitude that paint a more comprehensive picture as to what happened in reality.


In order to determine a clear case of medical malpractice in the court of law, the patient must be able to prove three key components of their particular case. This builds a reliable system of factually-based evidence that can be used to determine the proper outcome.

  • Establishing that a duty of care was owed. All medical care providers must act in accordance with the standard of care. The standard of care for a health care provider is that degree of care and skill that would be used by a reasonably competent health care provider engaged in a similar practice and acting in similar circumstances.
  • A plaintiff must establish that an action or failure to act has violated the duty of care. Unintentional violations of the standard of are fall under the act of negligence, no matter how minor or major they may be. Any act that provides improper, substandard, or inadequate care to a patient is a violation of the standard of care, while any negligent act establishes liability on the perpetrator.
  • The patient must have suffered harm or injury caused by the breach in the standard of care. Fairly straightforward, this requirement alludes to the fact that the patient must have suffered harm or injury while under care of their medical practitioner. This must go beyond the circumstances that initially brought them to their practitioner in the first place.

Being able to exemplify these three components of medical malpractice will greatly bolster your case, strengthening your argument and creating a clear pathway for you to take in order to attain your goals in the court of law. Establishing a firm and consistent argument is paramount in this scenario, and gathering these three pillars of medical malpractice existence will only assist you in attaining the results that you desire.

Contacting Henderson Law

Medical Malpractice cases are emotionally draining, invasive, and a burden on the lives of the victims. They are complex, convoluted, and full of intricacies that complicate the case at every turn. Speak with the malpractice lawyers at Henderson Law to navigate and understand how to best approach your case. With a proven track record for undertaking complex litigation cases and a team of thorough, precise malpractice lawyers dedicated to the well-being of various malpractice victims, Henderson Law is poised to assist you in the State of Maryland, or the District of Columbia. If you or a loved one has been affected by the tragic repercussions of medical malpractice, contact Henderson Law. Regardless of the severity of your case, we are committed to serving you. Don’t allow yourself to suffer without fighting for justice. Contact Wes Henderson to ensure that you or your loved one receives the treatment they deserve, as Wes Henderson and the rest of the team at Henderson Law will fight your injustice.