Medical malpractice is professional negligence by act or omission by a health care provider in which the treatment provided falls below the accepted standard of practice in the medical community and causes injury or death to the patient, with most cases involving medical error.
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Medical negligence is an act or omission of an act by a medical professional that deviates from the accepted standard of care established by the medical community. Doctors and other medical professionals have a duty to provide treatment to their patients that is in line with the medical standard of care.
Medical negligence becomes medical malpractice when the doctor’s negligent treatment causes undue injury to the patient. The ‘Bolam’ and ‘Bolitho’ principles are prominent in the medico-legal field. Each of the policies was named after the plaintiffs of their repetitive cases.
The Bolam principal stemmed from a case in which the plaintiff agreed to electro-shock therapy. The verdict was in favour of the defendant hospital. Given the general medical opinions about what was acceptable electro-shock practice, they had not been negligent in the way they carried out the treatment.
The Bolitho principle held that professionals would not be in breach of their duty if they acted following practices accepted as proper by a responsible body of other medical professionals with relevant expertise. However, a defendant cannot escape liability by saying that the damage would have occurred in any event because he would have committed some other breach of duty after that. It was a slight departure from the Bolam test.
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