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Proving Negligence in a Medical Malpractice Case

Jan 18, 2016 | Medical Malpractice

The licensed medical practitioners are expected to perform at a certain level of proficiency. If a certain doctor fails to perform the duties with the standard of care practiced in the medical world, then the patient is under an obligation to seek legal advice. In extreme cases, the patient has the full legal right to file for a medical malpractice case.

However, the basic tenet of a medical malpractice case is the "claim of negligence," which the plaintiff must prove to win the case.

How do patients prove negligence in medical malpractice?

In order to prove that a medical practitioner’s negligent behavior led to injuries and substantial damage to the patient, the injured patient, or the plaintiff must establish the following to build the case:

· The professional obligation or duty that a medical practitioner owes to a patient.

· The expected standard of care, and the practitioner’s departure from that standard, leading to a breach of duty.

· A clear connection between the practitioner’s departure from the standard of care and the patient’s injury;

· Injury or damages borne by the patient.

In order to establish the "accepted standard of medical care" in a court of law, the plaintiff has to present the testimony of a medical expert, who is adequately qualified in the same area of medicine as the defendant. This testimony from this expert witness will help to establish the common standard of care met by all medical practitioners in that field of specialization, who are qualified to practice in this domain.

The defendant’s deviant behavior will then be compared against this standard of care to prove that the defendant failed to meet his professional obligations.

Joint liability for negligence in medical practice

In many cases, the doctor may be held negligent along with another service provider if the other person is also found guilty of equal negligence. For example:

· If two doctors were attending a patient, and one was treating the patient under the supervision of the other doctor, both these doctors may be found guilty of negligence in case of a patient injury.

· If a medication harms a patient, then both the doctor who wrote the prescription and the pharmacist may be found guilty of negligence. This happens because the injury may have happened due to the combined effect of the medicine, a strong dosage, and some side effects that the patient should have been warned about.

· In case of a medical equipment failure resulting in patient injury, both the doctor operating the equipment and the equipment manufacturer may be found guilty of negligence.

The patient’s prior consent

In some situations, a medical practitioner is duty-bound to obtain the explicit, written consent of a patient before conducting a treatment procedure or prescribing a treatment. This means that the medical practitioner must disclose potential risks, benefits, or possible alternatives to a medical procedure before requesting the patient’s consent. If the doctor fails to get this consent and a patient is harmed due to a certain procedure, then the doctor may be charged with negligence.

The "res ipsa loquitur"

In many cases, it may be really difficult for a plaintiff to prove negligence in medical malpractice in absence of direct evidence or witnesses. So, law has provided an easy way out for these hapless patients. If a patient cannot determine what caused the physical injury or damage but can recognize the fact that the injury would not have occurred without medical negligence, then he or she can invoke a "res ipsa loquitur."

With this fine legal machinery, all the plaintiff needs to prove is that an injury has taken place, which could not have occurred without a medical negligence. With this technique, the plaintiff moves the burden of proof to the defendant.

The involvement of an expert malpractice attorney is essential

As malpractice laws are complex, and proving medical negligence is not always easy or straightforward, it is imperative that the injured patient contact an experienced and compassionate malpractice attorney as quickly as possible to discuss the case.

RMFW Law gets the job done

If you or your close family member has recently faced medical malpractice, contact a proven and established medical malpractice law firm like Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff of RMFW Law at 212 697 9280. We want to hear about your case.

We have won big money for past clients and would like for you to be on this highly sought after list. Please give us a call and we will see if we can make something happen here.