Medical negligence is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), it ranks after heart disease and cancer, with approximately 200,000 deaths attributed to it. Payouts reach up to three billion dollars each year with one payout every forty-five minutes.
How Can It Be Classified as Medical Malpractice?
Basically, this occurs when a patient is harmed by a medical practitioner who was unable to competently perform their professional obligations. Here are some parameters wherein you can consider an incident medical malpractice:
1. A Relationship Existed
There has to be an established doctor-patient relationship, wherein the individual sought out to elicit the services of the medical practitioner for reasons within the scope of the professional’s field of practice. The doctor or the practitioner must also agree to render his or her services to the patient. It’s relatively easy to prove a physician’s relationship with his or her patient.
If you’re going out with a doctor and you have a personal relationship, you must establish then it could be hard to prove a doctor-patient relationship. This also applies to when you follow a treatment you read from a doctor’s medical blog. This questions if your doctor has directly treated you when you sought out treatment.
2. Negligence of the Practitioner
Dissatisfaction doesn’t mean your doctor is liable for medical malpractice. For you to have a case, there must be negligence on the physician’s part pertaining to the diagnosis or treatment. You must be able to prove that your doctor’s actions or inaction have caused your injuries in a way, where a competent doctor, would not. This is where lawyers for medical malpractice may help their clients as states may require a medical expert to testify and discuss standard care. And how it was not followed in the patient’s case.
3. The Negligence Caused an Injury
This part can be highly-contested since most of the patients come in with existing conditions or injuries and the question is often whether the doctor’s actions actually caused the harm in question. If a patient dies because of cancer, it can be difficult to prove the doctor’s negligence which resulted in death, compared to cancer which could be the likely cause. The patient and the testimony of the medical expert must be able to point out that the incompetence displayed directly caused the injury suffered.
4. Specific Damages
The saying “no harm, no foul”, applies to medical malpractice. If the patient is unable to present any harm due to the practitioner’s negligence then the case can’t be considered as malpractice. But if the patient experienced suffered any injuries listed below then there is a case to pursue:
- Pain (physical or mental)
- Added medical expenses
- Lost time from work or earning capacity.
Medical Malpractice is a branch of tort law and is a highly complex body of rules. Generally, insurance companies act fast and reach a settlement with the patient or victim before lawyers get involved. They prevent these cases to reach costly litigation in which the plaintiff can ask for more compensation. If you think you’re a victim of medical malpractice, it best that you consult with a professional to discuss your options.