Medical malpractice is a form of negligence in which an injury results from the failure of a medical professional or medical facility (doctor, nurse, medical technician, psychiatrist, hospital, or healthcare facility) to exercise adequate care, skill, or diligence in performing a duty towards a patient. The determination of whether a duty of care is met depends upon the standard of care for that professional or facility in their community. In other words, the applicable duty arises from the accepted practices of other professionals or facilities in the same field and geographical area. In the case of a doctor who is a medical specialist, the standard of care is determined by the standard of good medical practice in that specialty within the community.
It is important to remember that the duty of a medical professional is not the duty to cure or even to guarantee a good outcome from treatment. Medical malpractice does not occur every time medical treatment is not successful. Rather, the duty is to provide good medical care according to accepted standards in the community, or, in the case of a specialist, accepted standards in that medical specialty. Medicine is not an exact science, and doctors are not required to be right every time they make a diagnosis. A misdiagnosis can be arrived at even when all proper tests are performed accurately or evaluated by a skilled doctor with the utmost care. A misdiagnosis constitutes malpractice, however, if the doctor fails to get a medical history, order the appropriate tests, or recognize observable symptoms of the illness. In Michigan, a malpractice action may be brought against any member of a state licensed profession, or persons holding themselves out to be members of a state licensed profession. M.C.L. § 600.2912. In addition to doctors and surgeons, the Michigan legislature has expanded the scope of those health care professionals against whom a medical malpractice claim may be brought. M.C.L. § 600.5838. In a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving: (1) the applicable standard of care; (2) breach of that standard by the defendant; (3) an injury; and (4) proximate causation between the alleged breach and the injury. Wischmeyer v. Schanz, 449 Mich. 469, 484; 536 N.W.2d 760 (1995); M.C.L. § 600.2912a.