Medical Lawsuit: Facts That Must Be Established Proving Fault in Malpractice Cases

By  //  October 15, 2018

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The role of doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers in providing treatment, diagnosing illnesses and conducting delicate surgical procedures to ensure that we remain in good health cannot be overemphasized.

Mistakes are part of the human experience and every profession has its fair share of errors no matter how careful or competent the profession is. However, in the medical line, the stakes are so high that these errors lead to a relapse during treatment, serious health complications, trauma and death in extreme cases.

As a result of such dire, far-reaching consequences, it is important to prove that medical malpractice or negligence occurred whenever such cases arise.

Although there are ground rules governing cases of negligence, there are certain facts that must be established to have any chance of proving that the medical professional is guilty of medical malpractice:

  • The plaintiff must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the professional was duty bound to the plaintiff
  • That the medical professional was derelict in that duty
  • That the negligence of the medical professional negligence caused the injury or complication on which the lawsuit is based
  • That the injury in question actually took place.

After the requirements stated above have been met, the next line of action is to consider the standard of care:

  • A standard of care is the level of care that a reasonably competent medical professional who finds his or herself in that situation or one similar to it would administer to any given patient.
  • This standard is usually based on prevailing locally accepted standards among medical practitioners in that geographical area
  • The standard of care is the line of action that would be followed by most of the medical practitioners in that area in the same circumstance
  • If the plaintiff can prove that the medical professional’s actions in the situation in question constituted a breach of the standard of care that led to the injury, the case has a high chance of success.

Another important element in proving fault in malpractice cases is informed consent. The law requires medical professionals to provide patients with adequate information regarding treatment options.

This information includes:

  • Probable complications arising from a course of treatment
  • Expected benefits and associated risks

While the law makes an exception in cases of emergency, failure to obtain proper consent from the patient is an adequate basis for medical malpractice.

Proving fault in malpractice cases is not as easy as it sounds and even cases that look to be on a sure footing might turn out to be uncertain at the end. This is because the timing of injuries can sometimes clash with medical treatment leaving doubt as to the actual cause of the injury.

In these cases, the plaintiff can invoke res ipsa loquitur translated as “the thing speaks for itself.”

In order to effectively enforce this clause, the plaintiff needs to show that the injury or condition at the center of the malpractice case simply would not have occurred without the medical professional negligence and as a result is solely responsible for the damage done to the patient since he had complete control of the procedure or instrument that led to the injury or complication.

Proving fault in malpractice cases can be a difficult affair but by ensuring that these elements are in place, the task of getting justice can be much easier than imagined.