We have all heard the stories: A woman suffers from some sort of medical ailment. She seeks out treatment and ends up worse off. Was this due to mistake on the part of her doctors? Or is her condition running its natural course and the doctors could not have done anything to prevent this?
Questions such as this are often at the heart of a medical malpractice lawsuit. In this post, we will focus on the three factors that must be present in every medical malpractice case.
Factor 1: Standard of care
Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals must adhere to a certain standard of care. This standard of care will be explained in more detail if a case goes to trial. However, for the most part, one can define the standard of care as what is reasonably expected, as in what another medical professional in the same field would have done in the situation. For example, would another oncologist have made the same call? Or would another surgeon have taken the same steps? What was outside of the standard of care?
Factor 2: Negligence
Unfortunately, medical treatment does not always mean that the patient will be fixed or the problem will be resolved. For example, there are times when a patient will undergo radiation and chemotherapy to treat cancer. However, there are cases where cancer will not respond favorably or will come back.
In order to prove medical malpractice, one will need to prove that the medical professional acted in a way that led to an injury. The simple presence of an injury is not enough. Rather, the negative outcome must be the result of the action of the medical professional.
It is important to note here, that negligence can stem from either acting or failing to act.
Factor 3: Injury with consequences
In a medical malpractice case, there must be an element of consequence. The consequence can encompass many damages, including pain, suffering, the loss of income and disability.
If any of these factors are missing, there may not be a case. It is important to remember that while there are between 15,000 and 19,000 lawsuits filed a year against doctors in the U.S., not all of these lawsuits result in a settlement or win for the patient. There are plenty of cases where the three factors cannot be proven. However, there are also plenty of cases that do result in compensation for the patient.