Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Elements of a malpractice case

I get many calls from potential clients who are upset about what has happened to them in their doctor's office or at a hospital. Almost invariably, the conversation starts out with the statement, "I don't know if I have a case or not, but . . ." and then they proceed to tell me what happened.

I spend much of my time explaining to people what is required to have a viable medical malpractice case. It often turns out that the person does not have a case, but they usually feel better about having talked it through with an attorney.

In short, there are two basic elements to a malpractice case. First, the health care provider must have done something negligent. That is, they did something that no reasonable doctor or nurse would have done under the same circumstances. For example: they left a sponge in you during surgery, or they failed to see a nodule in your lung on an x-ray.

Secondly, the conduct of the health care provider must have caused some sort of harm. We must be able to connect the patient's injuries with what ever the doctor or nurse did wrong. For example, if a pharmacy sent you home with the wrong medication, that would be negligent. However, if you were lucky enough to realize the mistake before you took the medication, then no harm was caused by the pharmacy's conduct.

So, any evaluation of a potential malpractice claims starts with trying to satisfy these two elements. What did they do wrong and what harm did they case?

Another very important aspect to medical malpractice cases is the extent of the damages. This topic is covered in another post.

6 comments:

JSTBOOK said...

Amazingly described steps and method to prove medical malpractice to be established. I have bookmarked this post and will use it as reference upon a need for Similar Situation.

johan said...

Medical malpractice is professional negligence by act or omission by a health care provider in which care provided deviates from accepted standards of practice in the medical community & causes injury or death to the patient, with most cases involving medical error. In a medical malpractice claim, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff, which means that you as the victim must show these things. personal injury

James Douglas said...

I have a buddy that had some pretty messed up stuff happen during a surgery. He is looking for an attorney that does medical malpractice in Valparaiso, IN...Hope he has a case. Thanks for the post.

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