A bad medical result doesn't necessarily mean you've experienced malpractice. Even with the best of care, things can go wrong. Generally, to win a medical malpractice case, you must have expert medical testimony that no reasonable health care provider would have done what yours did. Reasonableness is generally determined by looking at what is reasonable care in view of the:
  • Available knowledge
  • Geographic location where care occurred
  • State of medical practices at the time of the illness or injury
You must also prove through expert testimony that the negligence of your health care provider was a cause of injury or death. A doctor can be negligent, for example, and still not be liable, if the injury or death was caused by some other factor.

Missed diagnosis

Irish researchers recently reported that after an exhaustive review of thousands of papers on medical malpractice claims, that misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis were the common medical malpractice claims constituting between 26 percent and 63 percent of total claims. Most missed diagnosis claims for adults concerned cancer and heart attacks. Others were appendicitis and bone fractures.   For children, cancer and meningitis were more commonly missed. A delayed diagnosis can lead to the lack of early treatment, which in cancer and heart attack cases can be fatal. On the other hand, a wrong diagnosis can lead to painful treatments and disability, such as chemo, for a cancer that does not exist.  

Drug errors

The second most common medical malpractice claim concerned drug errors, accounting for between 6 and 20 percent of claims. Errors in prescribing, dosage and administration included antidepressants, steroids, antibiotics, anticoagulants and antipsychotic medications. Nearly half of fatal medication errors occurred in patients over the age of 60 since this group often takes multiple medications.  

Missed test results

Malpractice claims arise because a doctor orders tests but then neglects to read the results. Consequently, the patient gets worse and does not receive the treatment that would have cured the condition or led to a recovery.

Wrong site surgery or Wrong patient

Few people can believe or accept that surgeons occasionally perform procedures on the wrong body part, do the wrong procedure, or do procedures intended for another patient. There are cases where the wrong limb was amputated. Most surgical procedures involve surgeons marking the site, though this is no guarantee that the correct side is marked. Poor communication is often the culprit in these and other surgical error cases. Checklists and timeouts or pauses to review the medical records are required in most settings, though these types of errors, though rare, continue to occur at rate of about 1 in every 112,000 procedures.  

Anesthesia mistakes

Before a patient goes under anesthesia, a physician needs to note the patient’s characteristics and condition. Technicians and the physician need to consider the patient’s age, medical condition, past reactions, type of surgery, medications they are on and other factors, which if not considered can lead to heart attacks or respiratory failure. Constant monitoring of vital signs is essential along with fluid outputs at 5-minute intervals.   These mistakes also take place in dental offices, cosmetic surgery offices and include nurse practitioners, nurses, and residents.
A wide variety of situations can lead to a medical malpractice claim -- from a doctor leaving a sponge in a patient's stomach during an operation to failing to tell a patient that a prescribed drug might cause heart failure. Most medical malpractice claims fall into one of these categories:

Failure to diagnose. If a competent doctor would have discovered the patient's illness or made a different diagnosis, which in turn would have led to a better outcome than the one actually achieved, then the patient may have a viable medical malpractice claim.

Improper treatment. If a doctor treats the patient in a way that no other competent doctor would, the patient could have a medical malpractice claim. In a similar vein, it may also be malpractice if the doctor selects the appropriate treatment but administers it incompetently.

Failure to warn a patient of known risks. Doctors have a duty to warn patients of known risks of a procedure or course of treatment -- this is known as the duty of informed consent. If a patient, once properly informed of possible risks, would have elected not to go through with the procedure, the doctor may be liable for medical malpractice if the patient is injured by the procedure (in a way that the doctor should have warned could happen).

Michigan medical malpractice law does establish a time limit in which patients may file suit against the offending medical provider or entity. In Michigan, the general limit is two years from the action that caused the injury. This is known as the statute of limitations. It underscores the importance of hiring a Michigan medical malpractice lawyer and filing your medical malpractice case as soon as you think there is a problem. There are extenuating circumstances in cases where the injury takes a long time to detect or recognize. In general, the patient has up to six months after the injury is detected or should reasonably have been detected to file a lawsuit. However, if you detect your injury more than six years after the original act that caused the injury, you will be barred from filing a claim. This is known as a statute of repose. There are exceptions to this statute, namely if the injury involves the reproductive system or if fraud is involved. In addition, Michigan medical malpractice law states that a patient seeking to file a medical malpractice claim must inform the medical provider of his or her intention to sue at least 182 days before filing the claim.  
It is critical that a lawyer be retained as soon as any injury due to medical malpractice is detected. Every medical malpractice case in Michigan is initiated by filing a Notice of Intent to File Suit (NOI). The NOI must be in writing and must be served upon the prospective defendant(s) at least 182 days before the actual suit is filed. Serving the NOI pauses the statute of limitations for 182 days. However, if the NOI does not comply with all of the statutory requirements, the 182-day tolling period is void and the claim can be dismissed if it violates the statute of limitations.
Michigan limits or “caps” the amount of non-economic damages that are available to a plaintiff who has been successful in a lawsuit. The majority of states have such limits but Michigan’s cap is more complex than most. Because of this, it is best to consult with an attorney early. Michigan has no cap on economic damages, which includes compensation for past medical expenses, ongoing medical care, lost income, harm to the plaintiff’s ability to earn a living, and any other measurable financial losses. Under Michigan Compiled Laws section 600.1483, the cap on non-economic damages is reviewed and adjusted each year; as of 2014, it was $440,200. Non-economic damages include compensation for injuries such as loss of society and companionship, pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. However, the non-economic damages cap is increased if:

1) the plaintiff is rendered hemiplegic, paraplegic, or quadriplegic because of the malpractice, and has suffered a total permanent functional loss of a limb because of injury to the brain or spinal cord, or

2) the malpractice has left the plaintiff with a permanently impaired cognitive capacity and rendered him or her incapable of making independent, responsible life decisions, and permanently incapable of independently performing the activities of normal daily life, or

3) the malpractice has caused permanent loss of or damage to a reproductive organ resulting in the plaintiff’s inability to procreate.

In 2014, the higher tier cap was $786,000.
Any Michigan medical professional that is licensed to treat or provide medical services to patients can be sued for medical negligence. A medical professional can include both individuals and organizations, for instance hospitals, doctors, nurses, specialists, assisted living facilities, and dentists.
A typical definition of the standard of care in a medical malpractice case is: The type and level of care an ordinary, prudent, health care professional, with the same training and experience, would provide under similar circumstances in the same community. In other words, the critical question in a medical malpractice case is, “Would a similarly skilled health care professional have provided me with the same treatment under the same, or similar, circumstances?” If the answer is, “no,” and you were harmed as a result of the sub-standard treatment, you may have a medical malpractice case.