What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice in Texas?

What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice in Texas?

“Medical malpractice” covers a range of situations to help the injured file a claim against a negligent doctor. However, Texas has a specific standard for these claims. Below, we look at what qualifies as medical malpractice in Texas. 

What Is “Medical Malpractice” Under Texas Law?

Medical malpractice involves a mistake or error a doctor or healthcare professional makes during treatment. It is a vast umbrella, covering anything from a misdiagnosis to surgical errors. 

However, the law understands that medical science has limits and that doctors and nurses are human. This means that certain problems or mistakes may result in an injury but not qualify as malpractice. 

In truth, complications are a normal, acceptable risk within medical science. So, how do you know what counts as medical malpractice? 

Standard of Care 

Standard of care is the leading factor in determining whether treatment qualifies as malpractice. While there is no standard definition in a medical textbook, doctors with similar backgrounds and experience can explain what they would do in the same situation. 

Here are a few examples of failure to meet the standard of care: 

  • Not investigating specific symptoms
  • Failure to run the appropriate tests
  • Failure to refer you to a qualified provider
  • Errors in a surgical procedure

If your doctor’s care falls below that standard, the court can say that you suffered from medical malpractice. However, if the doctor does everything they should have, it does not qualify – even if you suffer an injury or complication. 

Did I Suffer Medical Malpractice or a Normal Complication?

Typically, someone suffering an adverse reaction or injury in treatment does not qualify as medical malpractice. Medicine is a science, and it requires a certain level of risk. This is true of any surgery as well as most treatments. 

Every surgery or drug has a side effect, and we expect a certain level of acceptable risk. So, it’s not easy for a patient to understand the difference. After all, not everyone has medical expertise and experience. 

Many people accuse doctors of covering up a mistake as an acceptable complication. However, it is impossible to know whether that is true without medical training. If you believe your care was negligent, you should get a second opinion from another doctor. 

If that doctor agrees, contact an attorney. Personal injury attorneys handle medical malpractice claims. Sometimes, these cases are clear from the outset. 

Still, your attorney will work with a medical professional to establish the standard of care. An expert witness will have the experience to explain whether complications are normal or a result of medical negligence. 

What Is the Difference Between Medical Negligence and Medical Malpractice in Texas?

Intent is the most important factor between malpractice and negligence. However, it is not the intent to cause an injury. In reality, a healthcare professional can be negligent and liable for malpractice without intending to cause an injury. 

Rather it refers to their state of mind when they act or fail to do so. 

Medical Malpractice in Texas

Medical malpractice is when a healthcare provider intentionally deviates from the standard of care. If this results in an injury that was avoidable by following that standard, the patient likely has a case. 

Proving malpractice requires evidence that the provider knowingly deviated from the standard of care. Your attorney can demonstrate the standard. Then, they have to prove that the provider knew the standard and failed to act according to it. 

Medical Negligence 

Medical negligence is when the action or lack of action incidentally causes harm. In other words, the provider makes a mistake. However, negligence requires that the provider fails to act in a way that is reasonable for another provider in a similar position. 

In legal terms, this is a breach. A breach is a crucial aspect of a negligence case. Your attorney can establish the standard for reasonable behavior by bringing in an expert witness. The goal is to show how other similarly experienced professionals handle similar situations. 

Types of Medical Malpractice Claims

Many instances qualify as medical malpractice in Texas. Here are some of the most common circumstances that lead to a lawsuit. 

Negligent Treatment

Medical malpractice may be a single incident or a series of errors. If a doctor continues a treatment plan that causes a patient’s condition to worsen, their failure to adjust the treatment plan may be medical malpractice. Courts hold doctors to a higher standard of care than others who act in negligence. 

Failure to Diagnose 

When a doctor fails to diagnose a patient accurately, it may qualify as medical malpractice. Additionally, this includes an incorrect diagnosis or a diagnosis with an unreasonable delay. A failure to diagnose a patient can cause the condition to worsen. 

Alternatively,  it may result in unnecessary even painful procedures to cure a condition you aren’t suffering from.

Failure to Warn

The standard of care includes warnings about the potential outcomes and side effects of treatment. You have the right to agree to or deny a course of treatment. For you to grant consent, you have to have the information. 

Often, surgery and treatments have a vast range of side effects. When your doctor fails to advise you of these possibilities, you may have the grounds for a malpractice lawsuit. 

Additionally, failure to warn can involve a third party. For example, a doctor prescribes a drug but fails to warn the patient about the potential for severe lethargy. Then, the patient, unaware of the drowsiness, falls asleep while driving, leading to a car accident. In this case, another injured driver may file a medical malpractice suit against the doctor. 

When Can I Sue for Medical Malpractice in Texas?

If you can prove that a doctor’s errors or mistakes fall below the standard of care, you can file a lawsuit immediately. The case requires medical experts to determine whether your treatment met the standard of care. Other doctors can find the errors and testify in court. 

Texas law requires that you have a doctor review the case before you file it in court. When you file, you also need an “affidavit or merit” as well as other paperwork. This affidavit shows the court you have a serious case approved by a healthcare professional. 

If you believe you have a case that qualifies as medical malpractice in Texas, speak to an attorney. Your lawyer can help you get a second opinion and begin working on your case. 

medical malpractice or medical negligence in texas?

When Is It Too Late to Sue?

Texas has a statute of limitations on medical malpractice suits. Like personal injury claims, you have two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit. If you file after this date, the court is more likely to throw the case out. 

However, there are certain exceptions that extend the deadline. For example, if you discover the malpractice after the time limit expires, you have a “reasonable amount of time” to file after discovery. Additionally, minors have an extended time period to file, which is up until they turn 14 years old. 

Moreover, if the case involves continued negligence throughout treatment, you can argue that the malpractice happened in the most recent treatment. However, this is an issue that divides Texas courts.  

These limitations are why it’s a good idea to consult an attorney as soon as possible. No one should be denied their right to pursue justice because of an arbitrary rule. 

Contact an Attorney Versed in Texas Malpractice

So, what qualifies as medical malpractice in Texas? Your best option is to get a second opinion and consult an attorney. If you believe a healthcare provider made a mistake that caused you harm, call a personal injury law firm. 

Universal Law Group represents victims of negligence and medical malpractice. Our legal team is ready to review your claim and help you find the best course of action. Contact our office today at 832-767-0339 to schedule a free case evaluation.