If you or a loved one has a health problem or injury as a result of a doctor, nurse, or hospital staff member, Florida law provides you a legal remedy and the right to claim compensation.
Building a medical malpractice case is similar to completing a checklist. Each item must be checked off to prove your case. This article will list each of the items you need for a strong medical malpractice case.
What Are Medical Malpractice Cases?
Medical malpractice is when an individual is harmed when a medical professional (doctor, nurse, surgeon, etc.) fails to perform the duties of the job. To build a successful medical malpractice case you and your legal representation must show four essential elements:
1. The medical professional had a duty to care for the patient (i.e., the doctor and patient had a relationship)
2. The medical professional was negligent or breached his or her duty
3. The medical professional’s negligence caused harm to the patient
4. The injury caused specific damages to the patient
So if you are asking yourself, do I have a case for medical malpractice, this checklist is important. Let’s review each of these items further.
Sally sees her primary care doctor, Dr. Jones, every year for a physical. Dr. Jones has Sally’s medical records and has been her physician for over 10 years. Clearly, Dr. Jones and Sally have a doctor-patient relationship.
Because Dr. Jones is Sally’s doctor he has certain duties to care for her. So, if Sally wanted to bring a medical malpractice case against Dr. Jones, the first item on the checklist is complete.
However, Sally’s neighbor John is also a doctor. She mentions symptoms of an illness at a neighborhood barbeque and John overhears it. John does not have the same doctor-patient relationship with Sally, therefore, does not have the same duty as Dr. Jones.
Negligence/Breach of Duty
So, once legal representation establishes that there was a relationship between their client (the patient) and the medical professional, the first step is done. The second step is showing that the doctor acted negligently. Negligence means that the doctor didn’t act like another reasonable doctor would have in the same situation.
Another way to measure negligence is the standard of care. During medical malpractice cases, an expert may testify about what the standard of care was and whether the doctor did or did not meet that standard.
Negligence does not mean that the patient is unhappy with the outcome. If the doctor did everything he or she could do but the patient unfortunately still suffers from an injury or illness, that is not a medical malpractice case.
Many medical malpractice lawsuit cases come down to this item on the checklist – negligence. It may not be easy to prove negligence, which is why it’s important to have the best legal representation for your case.
Did the doctor’s negligence cause the harm? Again, negative outcomes do not necessarily mean there was negligence. Patients seek medical care when they are already sick or injured, so the doctor might not be at fault if something bad happens.
For example, if a patient dies of cancer while in the hospital it’s more likely that the cancer was the cause of death, not the doctor’s negligence. In order to show cause in a medical malpractice case, a lawyer would have to show that it’s more likely than not that the doctor’s negligence caused harm.
In some cases, a doctor did not meet the standard of care but there is no harm to the patient. To win a medical malpractice case, there has to be evidence of damages. Damages could be physical pain or emotional trauma.
Harm can also mean lost wages because a patient had to miss work or could no longer work due to their condition. If. doctor’s negligence caused complications and the patient had to see a specialist, the harm could be the financial burden of paying for those extra medical costs.
Medical Malpractice Examples
Now you have an understanding of what is needed to build a medical malpractice case – duty, breach, cause, and harm. Let’s take a look at some medical malpractice examples.
Failure to Diagnose
Failure to diagnose means that a doctor did not meet the standard of care for diagnosing a medical issue. This could mean that the doctor didn’t perform the right tests or did not reach a conclusion that another competent doctor would have in the same situation.
Failure to Provide Proper Treatment
Some of the worst medical malpractice cases are those in which the doctor did not properly treat the patient. If a doctor does not provide the right medication or does not refer a patient to a specialist, it could be improper treatment. Other examples include if a doctor fails to assess or monitor a patient’s condition.
In some cases, failure to treat can be life-threatening. For example, hysterectomy medical malpractice cases can lead to permanent organ damage. Surgery medical malpractice cases are some of the highest paying cases.
Failure to Warn
If a medical professional fails to tell a patient about potential risks of a treatment or procedure, that may be medical malpractice. Patients have to give informed consent before treatment. If the patient can show that they would not have gone through with the procedure if they had known the risks, the doctor or hospital may be liable.
Find Legal Representation for Your Medical Malpractice Case
If you think you have a medical malpractice case, it’s time to seek legal representation.
Our practice is dedicated to helping accident victims. If you ever need help with a legal problem or just want information on this subject, you can always reach me at 777-JOHN.