What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice refers to professional negligence by a health care professional, provider, or facility in which the treatment provided was substandard, and caused harm, injury or death to a patient.
While every patient and every case are unique, there are common elements that must be proven to establish medical malpractice has occurred.
Doctor/Patient Relationship – It must be proven that a physician-patient relationship existed with the doctor or medical facility. In other words, the doctor or hospital must have provided medical care to the patient. This is determined by medical records, history of care, or patient engagement letters.
Duty of Care – There are accepted standards, set forth by the medical community, that all physicians must adhere to. Medical professionals are legally obligated to their patients to meet the standard of care.
Breach of Duty – A doctor or other medical professional must be shown to have failed to act or perform their duty in a similar manner to other medical professionals in a similar situation. When a medical professional does not act or treat a patient to that standard, a breach of duty has occurred and the medical professional may be found negligent.
Causation – There must be proof that the patient’s injury was caused by the medical professional’s negligence or breach of duty. Medical charts, treatment, and testimony from other health care professionals are typically required to prove that the proximate cause of the injury was the provider’s negligence.
Damages – There must be economic or non-economic damages directly related to the injury caused by the medical professional’s negligence. This means that the professional can be held liable for lost wages, additional medical bills, damage to future earnings capability, or pain and suffering.