Patients have the right to expect their doctors to have a certain level of skill and competence when they are rendering medical care. No doctor is capable of healing every malady, but their treatment must rise to the level of proficiency that meets a standard of care. Otherwise, medical providers open themselves up to allegations of malpractice.
However, alleging malpractice and proving it are two different animals. Below are some of the legal theories that must be proven in order to prevail in court.
Almost all medical malpractice cases are based on theory of negligence. Plaintiffs must prove that there was a duty of care owed to the patient by the medical professional, that the standard of care and the deviation from it created a breach of that duty and that there is a causal connection between this deviation and the patient’s worsened condition or injury.
Standards of care are defined for the court through the testimony of medical experts who have qualifications in the same medical field as the defendants. They testify to the level of care that is commonly met by others who are qualified and competent in the same field. Plaintiffs must also show that the defendant fell short of meeting this standard.
Medical professionals can be held liable for negligently prescribing medicine if they prescribed the wrong medication or dose and the patient suffered harm. If they ordered medical devices for their patients but ignored the manufacturer’s instructions and patients were injured, they could also be liable.
The informed consent of the patient must also be obtained before treatment is rendered or procedures administered. Failing to obtain this content not only could be grounds for malpractice. It might result in charges of battery being filed against the medical providers.
As there are many more complex issues involved in the successful litigation of such cases, those with potential malpractice cases should consult a legal professional.
Source: FindLaw, “Proving Fault in Medical Malpractice Cases,” accessed Dec. 03, 2015