Whenever you hire someone for a job, you know there’s a chance something could go wrong. In the case of seeing a medical professional, though, this is a pretty tough pill to swallow. Physicians take the Hippocratic Oath, of course, but most people also just associate “doctor” with “knowledgeable” and thus assume the worst can’t happen. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. While medical negligence is thankfully rare, it still happens. When it does, you need to seek the help of a qualified attorney ASAP.
What Goes Into a Medical Negligence Lawsuit?
Medical negligence, also known as medical malpractice, is a bit more complicated than a lot of people may think. Simply because you had a procedure done and something didn’t go according to plan doesn’t mean you’ll have a successful claim.
For one thing, no procedure is 100% safe. Whether you’re getting your teeth cleaned or having bypass surgery, there will always be risks involved. As the patient, though, you sign a waiver that states you both understand these risks and provide informed consent to the surgeon.
In order for a medical negligence lawsuit to have a chance, you have to prove that the doctor (or other medical professional) both made a mistake that was unreasonable and you were harmed as a result.
If your surgeon made a mistake by dropping the scalpel, but this didn’t harm you, there’s no case. Likewise, if you end up hurt but the injury is considered within the scope of the risks involved with the procedure, you likewise don’t have a claim.
Lack of Action as Malpractice
It’s also important to point out that medical negligence isn’t just what happens when a medical professional does something wrong. Their lack of action can also be a strike against them. Say your doctor misses an obvious sign that you are developing a tumor. This could end up causing you greater amounts of harm and, thus, that doctor would be held accountable.
Again, though, you must prove that their lack of action was unreasonable. Misdiagnosises or lack thereof happens all the time without lawsuits getting filed.
Standard of Care
As you may have already figured out, medical negligence can often be very tough to prove because there is a big gray area involved with what a doctor should or should not have done.
This is where the standard of care comes into play. Generally, speaking, this refers to the method or methods accepted by other medical professionals in the same area that would normally be used to treat, operate on or care for patients with the same conditions.
For example, the standard of care to treat a 70-year old man from Minnesota with asthma would be different from the kind applied to a 20-year old woman living in Florida. The courts would look at what the standard of care would be for other 70-year old men with asthma from the same area.
Proving a medical negligence case, then, comes down to showing that a doctor either didn’t practice the standard of care that’s accepted in scenarios similar to yours or was simply unaware of them.
Then you have to show that you’ve suffered because of this error. This is where another medical expert usually has to testify to the standard of care that applied to your case and why breaching it left you worse off.
Hopefully, it’s become clear that filing a medical negligence claim without the help of an experienced attorney is probably going to fail. Qualified medical negligence attorneys already understand the challenges ahead of them and know how they are navigated. This is the best way to ensure that medical professional doesn’t end up hurting someone else and that you get the damages you deserve.