Going through a surgery, treatment regimen, or other medical procedure to remedy an injury or illness is a trying experience. Unfortunately, these events do not always proceed according to plan. On occasion, that may be due to the negligence of a doctor or medical facility. However, proving medical malpractice in a court of law is a challenging undertaking that requires the experience of a proven and tested medical malpractice lawyer. If you believe you might have been the victim of medical malpractice, a medical malpractice lawyer may be able to offer you counsel and take your case.
Medical malpractice laws can vary from state to state. That said, there are certain general laws and guidelines common among most malpractice lawsuits.
The Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice Claims
The majority of the time, medical malpractice claims fall into one of the following three categories:
- Failure to Diagnose. This happens when a physician neglects to properly diagnose a disease or a condition which then results in a serious or fatal sickness or injury to the patient.
- Failure to Warn a Patient of Potential Risks. Such circumstances develop when a doctor is remiss in informing his or her patient about certain risks associated with specific surgeries or treatment regimens. As a result, the patient suffered an additional medical problem or saw his or her current condition seriously worsen.
- Improper Treatment. Patients can be improperly treated if a physician uses an unusual or seldom practiced method as a form of treatment. This category also comes into play when a doctor wrongly administers an accepted method of treatment. One example is prescribing the wrong medication or dosage. Another example is not taking appropriate precautions or actions when there are pre-birth complications during a pregnancy.
What Must a Patient Prove?
The following things must be proved in order to win a medical malpractice suit:
- The Doctor Displayed Negligence. The plaintiff will not be awarded damages merely on the argument their treatment was not successful or did not yield the desired results. It must be proven that during the course of treatment the physician acted in an unskillful, careless, or unprofessional manner.
- The Physician’s Negligence Was the Direct Cause of an Injury, Illness or Worsening Condition. The vast majority of malpractice suits involve people with pre-existing illnesses or injuries. Doctors often successfully contend it was the illness or injury itself that brought about the patient’s new or worsening troubles.
- A Doctor-Patient Relationship Is Clearly Defined. A patient must show that he or she shared a professional relationship with the physician in question, in addition to demonstrating that he or she hired that same doctor to perform the specific operation or treatment that caused the injuries identified in the lawsuit.
- The Injuries Sustained Led Directly to the Damage Award the Patient Seeks.
Some states require that medical malpractice cases follow specific rules. A medical malpractice lawyer Salt Lake City UT citizens rely on can help explain these rules. These regulations include, but are not limited to:
- The need for expert testimony to be offered.
- Establishing limitations on how much money a patient can be awarded in damages.
- A patient might be required to submit the claim before a review board who will review the testimony and determine whether or not the suit has any validity.
If you have questions or concerns about pursuing a medical malpractice claim, contact a lawyer who focuses on this area of the law. Most will offer a one-time consultation at no charge.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Rasmussen & Miner for their insight into medical malpractice.