In its simplest terms the type of lawsuit which has been called medical malpractice or, more appropriately, medical negligence, is that type of claim which a victim has available to him or her to redress a wrong committed by a medical professional which has caused bodily harm.
In order to successfully pursue such a claim, a patient must prove that a health care provider, in most cases a physician, either failed to do something which a reasonably prudent health care provider would have done, or that he or she did something that a reasonably prudent provider would not have done; and that that failure or action caused injury to the patient.
In addition to providing a means to compensate the victims of negligence for the wrongs done to them, this type of litigation is the only means society has to police a profession that has failed to police itself. The courtrooms of America are public forums where negligent practice can be exposed for what it is. With the advent of the National Practitioner Data Bank, a permanent record of each successful claim is made and all hospitals and state boards of medicine are required by federal law to consult the Data Bank when granting licenses or privileges.
Hospitals who grant privileges to physicians without appropriate inquiry and evaluation subject themselves to liability for failure to act reasonably in granting privileges. The health care consumer does have a voice. Well founded medical negligence claims not only assist the victims who have been injured, they have a net effect of improving the quality of health care for all consumers of health care services.