In simple words, medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse or any healthcare professional causes injury to a patient by deviating from professional standards.
While rules bout medical malpractice vary from state to state, some general principles and rules apply to most cases.
A medical malpractice claim can be filed for a variety of situations, but most of them usually fail into the following categories:
- Failure to diagnose: when a competent medical professional fails to diagnose a patient or provides an incorrect diagnosis;
- Improper treatment: if a competent doctor treats a patient in a way that no other competent doctor would, or if the doctor chooses the appropriate treatment, but administers it incompletely or incorrectly;
- Failure to warn: when a doctor does not warn a patient of known risks regarding treatment or a medical procedure, failing to obtain the patient’s informed consent.
Legal professionals at Cummings Law – HI advise that, if you find yourself in one of these situations, the best thing you can do is seek help from an attorney as fast as possible, as time is very important in a malpractice case.
However, to avoid medical professionals from being wrongfully accused, a patient wanting to file a medical malpractice claim needs to be able to prove a few aspects.
The existence of a doctor-patient relationship
The first thing you need to prove is that you had a patient-physician relationship with the medical professional you are suing. This means you can’t sue a doctor that gave you advice while in line at the grocery store.
If you have been treated by this doctor, it should be very easy to prove the relationship. You should have some bills, prescriptions or other forms of proof that an attorney can use to back up your claims.
The negligence of the medical professional
You can’t sue a doctor just because you are unhappy with the treatment results. This is why you need to prove the doctor was negligent when diagnosing or treating you.
Therefore, you will need to prove that the medical practitioner harmed you in a way no competent doctor would.
Most, if not all states require the patient to bring forward a medical expert that can discuss the suited medical standard of care and explain how the accused doctor deviated from it.
The injury was caused by a doctor’s negligence
Medical malpractice cases often involve patients that were either already injured or sick, so it becomes difficult to prove if the fault was indeed the doctor’s or not.
If, for example, a patient dies after cancer treatment and the doctor was negligent, it can be quite difficult to show that the doctor’s negligence was the cause of death and not cancer itself.
Again, a medical expert must be able to testify, proving the doctor’s negligence.
The caused injury led to specific damages
Even if a doctor’s performance was below suited medical standards, a patient can’t file for malpractice if they did not suffer any harm. Amongst the types of harm patients can sue for, are:
- Physical pain
- Mental suffering
- Loss of income