Proving Medical Negligence: Navigating the Complex Path to Justice

Medical negligence is an area of law that encompasses a wide variety of actions and omissions by healthcare professionals. It includes any treatment that deviates from the accepted standards of care for a person’s profession and directly causes injury or harm to an individual. It can take many forms, such as misdiagnosis, surgical mistakes and delivering the wrong medication.

In a medical malpractice case, four elements must be proved: 1 a professional duty owed to the patient; 2 a breach of that duty; 3 injury caused by the breach; and 4 damages. The injured person can be the patient, a legally designated person acting on their behalf or, in cases of wrongful death, an executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate.

While most people are trusting of their doctors and other health professionals, mistakes can occur that cause serious injury and even death. Despite preventive measures from healthcare providers and rules that are constantly updated to improve patient safety, errors do happen. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, and they can be a devastating experience for the patients who survive them.

Proving Healthcare Negligence can be complex, requiring significant and detailed evidence and expert testimony to demonstrate that your doctor’s treatment fell below the expected standard of care. A qualified attorney and medical experts can help you identify what the standard of care was for your doctor’s specialty, then examine whether or not the specific treatment that you received complied with that standard.

In addition to identifying the standard of care, your medical expert will need to explain how your doctor’s actions or omissions specifically caused you harm and/or injury. Not all medical negligence results in an injury, so your medical expert must be able to prove that the healthcare professional’s action or omission was a direct cause of your injury and that it would not have happened but for the healthcare provider’s failure to adhere to their legal duty of care.

If your doctor’s actions or omissions did not directly cause your injury, you will need to prove that the healthcare professional’s negligence aggravated a pre-existing condition. For example, if you were diagnosed with cancer but continued to trust your doctor’s judgement and did not seek a second opinion for months, then went on to develop advanced stage cancer, that is the kind of situation where you could have a medical malpractice claim against your original doctor for their mistake in failing to diagnose the disease in time.

In addition to pursuing the healthcare providers who may have committed clinical negligence against you, you may also be entitled to sue the hospital or other facility where they work, depending on the circumstances of your case. This is because healthcare facilities are vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees while on-the-job.