Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed because a doctor (or other medical professional) failed to perform competently under accepted standards of medical care. In order to prove medical malpractice, it must be shown that the doctor was negligent in some way -- that is, not reasonably skillful and careful in treating the patient. A doctor's negligence might be established by proof that the doctor:
There are other elements that must be established in a medical malpractice claim -- including the existence of a doctor-patient relationship and damages linked to a resulting injury. To learn more about medical malpractice claims (including what types of actions constitute malpractice), see Nolo's article Medical Malpractice Basics.