As the injured person, you have a burden. You must prove three things. In basic terms, you must prove: (1) the health care provider either did something they should not have (negligent act) or did not do something they should have (negligent omission), (2) that the negligent conduct caused an injury, and (3) your damages. A bad or suboptimal outcome does not mean the health care provider committed malpractice.
Doctors and other health care providers have a duty to their patients, to provide care and treatment that complies with the appropriate standard of care. This means the health care provider must exercise that degree of care, skill and learning expected of a reasonable, prudent health care provider in the profession or class to which he belongs within the state acting in the same or similar circumstances. If the health care provider fails to acts as a reasonably prudent provider under the circumstances, then that health care provider failed to perform his or her duty and was negligent. This must be proven by presenting a medical expert within the same specialty as the health care provider.
Medical negligence becomes medical malpractice when the doctor’s negligent treatment causes injury to the patient; that is, makes the patient’s condition worse, causes unreasonable and unexpected complications, necessitates additional medical treatment, or causes death. The key is that the specific negligent act is causally linked to the injury or death. This again must be proven through expert testimony. There are many ways that health care providers can negligently cause injuries. For instance:
- misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose;
- surgical errors, including unnecessary or incorrect surgery;
- surgical errors, including leaving things inside the patient’s body after surgery;
- premature discharge;
- failure to order appropriate tests or to act on results;
- failure to follow up;
- medication errors;
- poor infection control, including potentially fatal infections acquired in the hospital; and
- general negligence.
Finally, you must prove the injury led to specific damages. Even if it is clear that the health care provider was negligent, you cannot sue for malpractice if you did not suffer any harm. Collectable damages may include physical pain, disability, mental anguish and suffering, past and future medical bills, and lost wages and earning capacity.
Medical malpractice cases are complex with several nuances. It is essential to get advice and representation from an experienced team, like us. If you believe that you or a loved one has been injured by a health care provider’s negligence, then contact us as soon as possible so we can help you determine if your case has merit.