Within the medical field there are a number of ways to treat diseases and aliments. Some ways happen to be more controversial than others, and in the past, have opened up doctors to malpractice medical lawsuits. However, more recent legislature has sought to protect treatments that doctors can use within their scope of employment, allowing them not to be subjected to frivolous malpractice medical lawsuits.
However, there is a fine balancing act that the court needs to take into account when measuring doctors practices within their scope of employment. Malpractice medical cases are usually defined by the level negligence present. Some treatments can inherently be riskier than others, yet if a doctor can prove he or she is within a respectable minority in the medical profession, than the doctor would most likely not be subjected to malpractice medical lawsuits.
Many treatments that run high risks, and fall into this category, deal with difficult diseases to combat. Advanced stages of cancer and neurological diseases are some of the most complicated illnesses to treat, and have forced some doctors to use innovative treatments.
Through research, they have expanded the scope of employment to their client, at times offering riskier approaches to dominate forms of medical practices. The medical profession as a whole is large, yet these cases are handled by a niche group of doctors, so when there is deviation, the minority group may be very few. Advanced stages of cancer can be combated by very aggressive forms of chemotherapy or gene therapy. Not all are guaranteed to succeed.
Often at advanced stages of disease, patients are turned away from dominate forms of medicine, and they will seek other alternatives. Therefore the guidelines for negligence in a malpractice medical lawsuit can be blurred by the patient’s own consent to the doctor giving him or her a wide scope of employment to combat their disease.
The courts will in these cases focus on expert testimony, published articles, and qualitative success rates found nationally and/or globally. In the medical community, informed consent plays a large role in mitigating a medical malpractice lawsuit, yet in these cases the consent can be given to a treatment that goes well beyond any scope of employment for a medical professional. That is why the courts will fall back onto expert testimony.
In the long run some techniques that are used in the respectable minority can one day enter the mainstream, but cutting edge treatments also fringe on malpractice as they take innate risks the dominate medical logic would not deem appropriate. In many cases the burden will be on the doctor to prove that his or her method is acceptable, and the consent given by the patient was, in fact, after they were fully informed. In some cases it is not the person who is ill who makes the medical malpractice claim either, but their family due to the nature of their disease.
Terminally ill patients who opt for riskier methods of treatment may never see the inside of the courtroom, making the proceeding even more complicated as one of the chief parties is no longer present.