For many years we have helped people who have been injured by medical malpractice deal with all of the complex issues surrounding this type of claim.
“Medical malpractice” is a term generally used for negligent medical care or treatment. Medical malpractice may occur in many different settings. For example, an obstetrician may be negligent in failing to recognize signs of fetal distress during child birth, causing an infant to needlessly suffer a brain injury. A surgeon may be careless during surgery and cause damage to surrounding organs. A radiologist may misread an x-ray, which delays a cancer diagnosis. A nurse may fail to follow a physician’s order in the administration of a drug, causing injury to the patient.
It is important to note that unsuccessful treatment, a poor result or an adverse outcome alone is not necessarily negligence or medical malpractice. A health care provider does not guarantee the results of his or her medical treatment. Therefore, a patient must prove that the health care provider was negligent in order to sustain a claim for medical malpractice.
Generally, there are five (5) essential elements to most medical malpractice claims:
Duty of Care: A health care provider owes a “duty of care” to his or her patients. To establish the duty, a patient must prove that the patient had a professional relationship with the health care provider to receive medical care and treatment. The proof of the relationship establishes the duty of care.
Standard of Care: A health care provider fulfills his or her duty of care by complying with the “standard of care.” The standard of care is specific to each case. Usually, the standard of care requires the physician to use that degree of learning and skill ordinarily possessed and used by members of that profession and that school of medicine in the community in which the physician practices, or in similar communities, and under like circumstances.
Deviation: To prove negligence, a patient must prove that his or her health care provider deviated from the standard of care, thereby violating his or her duty of care.
Causation: A deviation from the standard of care alone is not sufficient to maintain a lawsuit. The patient must also prove that the deviation caused the patient to suffer some form of personal, physical injury.
Damages: The final element of a medical malpractice claim is “damages.” Damages arise from personal, physical injury and generally include medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, disability, disfigurement and/or mental anguish.
If you believe that you have suffered an injury as the result of medical malpractice, contact Foulston Law Office for a free consultation.