Medical malpractice is defined in Article 13 of the Code of Professional Ethics of the Turkish Medical Association. To clarify, instances where patients suffer harm due to a doctor’s ignorance, inexperience, or indifference.
Essentially, medical malpractice occurs when a doctor fails to provide the expected standard of care. It encompasses various situations, such as misdiagnosis, and improper treatment. Furthermore, inadequate care results from the lack of knowledge, experience, or indifference of healthcare institutions like hospitals and polyclinics.
Compensation lawsuits for medical malpractice can arise from any practices that deviate from medical standards. This can be during the patient’s diagnosis, treatment, and care stages.
Situations Considered Medical Malpractice
Medical interventions require the patient’s informed consent. For example, even if it is in the best interest of a patient who refuses to undergo surgery, the doctor cannot spontaneously decide to operate on the patient. However, when the patient consents, the doctor must adhere to recognized professional medical standards known as “medical standards”. Furthermore, the doctor must act with “the experienced doctor’s duty of care” and in accordance with the case.
Medical malpractice cases typically arise in the following scenarios:
1. Malpractice at the diagnosis stage
Errors during the diagnosis process, such as incomplete patient examinations, failure to obtain necessary medical history or background information (anamnesis), or neglecting required tests, are considered medical malpractice. For instance, administering a drug to an allergic person without confirming their allergies demonstrates malpractice during the diagnosis stage.
2. Malpractice at the treatment stage
Instances of medical malpractice during treatment may involve the failure to provide necessary medical intervention. Other common cases are, leaving foreign objects in the patient’s body during surgery, and choosing an incorrect treatment method. Furthermore, administering incorrect medication or dosage, and confusing patient information or body parts to be treated are examples of malpractice. Similarly, conducting disproportionate interventions, disregarding hygiene protocols, or performing incorrect surgical procedures are also some of the previous lawsuit matters.
3. Malpractice at the stage of organization obligation
Malpractice can also occur when healthcare institutions fail to fulfill their organizational obligations. This includes implementing measures based on the patient’s health condition, disease type, and severity. These measures involve ensuring the availability of qualified personnel and consulting with other physicians when necessary for the patient’s treatment. Neglecting organizational obligations can lead to liability for both the healthcare institution and the physician’s diagnostic or treatment errors.
In addition to the above, two important considerations in cases involving malpractice and liability for compensation are as follows.
When a physician responsible for a patient’s diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up requires the expertise of other specialists, consultation or cooperation is necessary. Failure to consult the relevant specialist when required or not adhering to the information obtained through consultation can lead to liability in malpractice cases.
Stabilization refers to achieving a state of stability or equilibrium for the patient. The following situations are examples of stabilization.
- The medical condition that the patient suffered and caused him/her to come to the emergency room is eliminated to a certain extent and his/her body balance is restored.
- Stopping the progression of the disease, stabilizing body functions.
- In cases requiring advanced medical intervention, stabilizing the patient by providing medical support to the patient until that intervention is performed.
- Trying to prevent new complications from arising.
Emergency service personnel are obligated to provide comprehensive medical services until stabilization is achieved. This is regardless of whether the patient has social security or not and regardless of other characteristics. If a patient is transferred or discharged form emergency service without stabilization, it can lead to compensation liability for medical malpractice.
Violation of the Physician’s Duty of Care
In malpractice cases, the physician’s liability is determined based on the standard of care expected from an experienced specialist physician. The physician should be able to reasonably foresee potential harm to the patient’s health, considering objective factors related to the natural course of events and subjective factors such as personal experience, expertise, individual professional knowledge, and level of education.
Statute of Limitations for Filing Malpractice Lawsuits
The statute of limitations for malpractice cases varies depending on the specific circumstances. It is crucial to consult experienced malpractice lawyers to accurately assess and define the case. The statute of limitations can range from one to two years from the date of discovering the doctor’s error, and it may be five, ten, or twenty years from the incident, depending on its nature.
Malpractice cases differ in nature, depending on the specific incident, the services provided by the doctor, the healthcare institution involved, and other factors. To navigate these cases successfully, it is essential to thoroughly examine the incident and seek legal advice from expert lawyers before taking any legal action.
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