Are You a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

Medical providers, like nursing homes and hospitals, are held to a high standard of medical care for individuals.  These standards are in place to protect patients from becoming victims of negligence, and enable them to sue in instances of medical malpractice.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical practitioner fails to meet the legal standards of care in their field, and that failure causes harm to their patient.  Malpractice is often grounds for a personal injury legal case.

Damages in a malpractice suit can include reduced quality of life, pain and suffering and the cost of medical bills.

Examples of malpractice include:

  • A doctor who misdiagnoses a patient when most providers could have easily, accurately diagnosed the patient
  • A nursing home that doesn’t move patients often enough to avoid bedsores
  • A surgical team that accidentally leaves medical instruments inside of a patient or performs the wrong surgery

For a plaintiff to establish that malpractice occurred, and recover for damages, they must prove all of four legal elements: Duty of Care, Breach of Duty, Causation and Damages.

When a case goes to civil court, a jury will consider the preponderance of evidence to determine the medical provider’s guilt or innocence, and the amount of recovery owed to the plaintiff.

Duty of Care

The plaintiff has to prove that the medical provider (e.g. hospital, nursing home, doctor) had a duty of care in the relationship.  Typically, this relationship is easy to prove using admittance papers and similar documents.  They prove that the patient contracted with the provider for specific medical care.

If an independent contractor was involved, such as a doctor who was not an employee of the hospital but brought in to consult, it becomes harder to determine which provider owed the duty of care—in this case, the hospital or consulting doctor.

Once the responsible provider’s identified, the next step is to compare their care with the standard of care that should have been provided.  One way to do this is to compare it with the treatment a provider of equal skill and education would have provided in a similar situation.

Breach of Duty

After identifying the responsible provider, and the duty of care, the plaintiff must prove that the provider breached their duty of care.  Typically, showing how the provider deviated from their duty of care fulfills this requirement.

One way to prove that deviation is by introducing testimony from a medical professional.  By describing what a reasonable course of action would have been, they could show how the defendant deviated from reasonable medical standards.

Causation

The patient must prove that the provider’s breach of duty directly caused their injury.  Despite a breach of duty, causation can’t always be proven.  For example, if a doctor misdiagnoses a patient with a terminal disease, but the patient was suffering from a different—and also terminal—disease, they might not be able to prove their case.

Damages

This element demands that the patient suffered serious economic or other damages beyond inconvenience or dissatisfaction.  Examples include medical bills for treatment of the breach, lost wages and emotional suffering.

Get Legal Advice About Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice suits are complex and demanding cases.  If you think you’ve suffered from medical malpractice, consult a qualified attorney for advice.  They will help you determine the strength of your case and how to move forward.

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