What lawyers need to prove in medical malpractice cases

What lawyers need to prove in medical malpractice cases

The medical profession is one of the noblest of all, as doctors need to study their entire lives to keep up with the latest medical advancements and constantly provide high-quality patient care. However, there may be cases when they may have been negligent, leading to their patients getting hurt or suffering an injury. Those patients can file a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover compensation for any damages sustained due to their doctor’s negligence.

Unfortunately, it’s notoriously difficult to win such lawsuits in the United States. If your law firm is representing patients in such cases, you must be able to provide substantial evidence to prove the following:

Read also: Paperwork required for a medical malpractice lawsuit

  1. Existing doctor-patient relationship
  2. It is important to establish that your client hired the doctor being sued, and that doctor agreed to take on the patient's case. This is easy to prove if that doctor was seeing and treating your client. However, an existing doctor-patient relationship cannot be established if, for example, your client simply overheard that doctor giving medical advice at a cocktail party.

  3. Standard of care
  4. While doctors are not perfect, they are expected to provide a certain standard care expected of a reasonably competent doctor. You must, therefore, be able to present a medical expert who will testify to what the reasonable standard of care is for the type of medical care your client received.

  5. Breach of standard care
  6. The next thing you must prove is that the doctor breached the standard of care in the following ways:

    • Wrongly diagnosed the patient – A reasonably competent doctor would have discovered your client’s illness or made a different diagnosis, which would have resulted in a better outcome than what was achieved.
    • Failed to provide proper care to the patient – The doctor treated the patient in a different way than what a reasonably competent doctor would do, either by providing a different treatment or administering treatment unskillfully.

    • Requested unnecessary medical tests – The doctor required the patient to undergo unnecessary medical exams to make money or for other reasons.

    • Failed to warn the patient of known risks – The doctor was not able to inform the patient of the possible known risks of a procedure and the patient was injured as a result of undergoing it. Had the patient been properly informed of the known risks, the patient would have chosen not to go through with the procedure.

    The aforementioned actions are acts of negligence on the part of the doctor, which could be used as grounds for a medical malpractice case. However, a doctor is not liable for medical malpractice if your client is simply unhappy with their treatment’s outcome or experienced an unexpected one. Such is the case if your client fell into a coma despite being given the best treatment and efforts of the doctor, and was fully informed of the known risks of that treatment. But if your client was misdiagnosed, which led them to enter a coma or left them with untreatable damage, then their doctor is liable.

  7. Causation
  8. To win a medical malpractice case, you also need to prove that your client's injuries were caused by the doctor's breach of standard care. In some cases, while the doctor did breach the standard of care, that breach was not the cause of the patient’s injury.

    For example, doctors are supposed to wear latex gloves when they operate, so failure to wear these is a breach of the standard of care. However, it would be difficult to establish the clear link between the doctor failing to wear those gloves and your client not liking how their surgical wounds healed. On the other hand, if your client developed an infection immediately after the operation, it's probable that the doctor's failure to wear gloves caused the infection. To prove this causation, however, you would usually need a medical expert to testify that the doctor’s negligence caused the infection.

  9. Damages
  10. Finally, you need to prove your client incurred damages as a result of breach of standard of care, which can be in the form of the following:

    • Physical pain or injury

    • Mental anguish

    • Medical costs to treat the related physical or mental pain

    • Inability to work or have the same earning capacity

    You must provide evidence of the nature and severity of your client’s physical and mental pain and how these prevented your client from earning a living and incurring higher medical bills.

Medical malpractice cases are hard to win since they are complex and usually require detailed investigation. Fortunately, Record Retrieval Solutions can help you quickly gather, organize, and categorize the medical records you need. We can even create thorough and convenient indexes for your records. Contact us today to learn more about our services.