The Elements of Medical Malpractice: An Overview

Gregg J. Gittler and Ellie J. C. Goldstein

Most physicians will be involved in a medical malpractice case sometime in their career in one of several capacities, such as a defendant, a treating physician, or an expert witness. Proving that malpractice has been committed is based on substantiation of a variety of elements and issues. This article offers an overview of the basic theories or types of claims of malpractice: 1) lack of due care; 2) lack of informed consent/battery; 3) vicarious liability/respondeat superior/negligent supervision; 4) injury to third parties; and 5) abandonment. While these elements hold true in general, the laws of malpractice, the procedures involved, and the judicial process vary from state to state and from country to country.

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