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In what ways could a doctor defend malpractice claims?

If you are hurt or your medical condition deteriorates as a result of negligence or a mistake made by a medical professional, you will want to hold that person responsible. This is a natural and completely understandable goal. But sometimes the accused medical professional may have the law on their side, giving them the chance to adequately (and successfully) defend the case against them.

Medical malpractice claims are inherently complex, and there are a lot of moving parts in any case. With that in mind, it's difficult to say definitively that a doctor could use Defense Strategy X or Y to defend a claim. Still, here are some situations that can help a medical professional defend the case against them:

  • Regular defense strategies for negligence. Since medical malpractice falls under general negligence, the defenses for general negligence can hold water in a medical malpractice case. So, the medical professional could argue that he or she gave the patient care that was in line with standard practices, or that a medical error wasn't actually the cause of the patient's condition.
  • "The patient did it." This is considered contributory negligence, and it is a claim that medical professionals could use. It accuses the patient of contributing to their negative medical condition. In other words, the medical professional would accuse the person of improperly using their prescribed medications, or doing something that they were told not to do.
  • Being a Good Samaritan. If an emergency occurs, a medical professional will try to help the person enduring this emergency. But what if the medical professional makes a mistake in this high-pressure situation? Well, Good Samaritan laws often shield medical professionals from liability in these situations.

Source: FindLaw, "Defenses to Medical Malpractice," Accessed July 16, 2015

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