Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Medical malpractice is any deviation by a health care provider from accepted standards of practice, whether or not it causes injury to the patient. Medical errors can occur in diagnoses, surgery, and prescriptions. In medical malpractice trials, defendants have the burden of proof, and expert witnesses testify against health care providers (including medical doctors, hospital residents, pharmaceutical companies, dentists, nurses, or therapists). Given both the injuries (fatal and nonfatal) associated with medical malpractice and the ensuing rise in costs of insurance premiums, medical liability is a social problem with significant ramifications for everyone's health care. According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the most common medical mistake is with medication, harming about 1.5 million people annually. Another one third of all claims result from diagnostic errors (e.g., interpretation of radiology reports). Generally, medical errors cause approximately 100,000 deaths a year. Death from prescription errors increased dramatically in ...