Medical malpractice is never something someone expects to experience when getting help from a medical professional. However, the unfortunate reality is that medical malpractice affects more patients than you may think. Medical malpractice can range from emergency room errors to surgical errors to medical misdiagnosis and more. In order to file a successful medical malpractice claim, proving the following four elements are essential for seeking compensation from the liable parties.

Duty of Care

In the context of medical malpractice, duty of care refers to the legal obligation of healthcare providers to provide a reasonable standard of care to their patients. Duty of care establishes the professional responsibility of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical professionals to act in a manner consistent with what an educated and competent healthcare provider would do in similar circumstances.

Under the duty of care, healthcare professionals are expected to possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and training to diagnose and treat patients appropriately. Healthcare professionals are required to treat patients with caution, diligence, and expertise when making medical decisions such as prescribing medications or performing procedures.

Proving a doctor-patient relationship is necessary in a medical malpractice claim since a duty of care is established through this relationship. When a patient seeks medical treatment or advice from healthcare professionals, they in turn, have a legal duty to act in the best interests of their patients. This duty also extends to healthcare facilities, such as hospitals and clinics, which also have a responsibility to ensure a safe and appropriate standard of care.

Breach of Duty

A breach of duty in a medical malpractice claim refers to a situation when a healthcare provider fails to meet the expected standard of care, resulting in harm or injury to the patient. Breach of duty occurs when a healthcare provider deviates from the generally accepted practices and protocols that a competent and skilled provider would have followed in similar circumstances. To establish a breach of duty in a medical malpractice claim, a healthcare provider’s actions or failure of actions must be proven to have been below the standard quality of care expected. This can involve comparing the provider’s conduct to what an educated and diligent professional in the same medical practice would have done under similar circumstances.

The standard of care can vary depending on various factors, including the patient’s condition, the prevailing medical knowledge and practices at the time, and the resources available to the healthcare provider. It is generally determined by expert testimony from qualified medical professionals who can offer opinions on whether the medical provider’s actions deviated from the accepted standard. Establishing a breach of duty is a crucial element in a medical malpractice claim as it forms the basis for demonstrating a healthcare provider’s negligence and responsibility for a patient’s injuries.

Injury Caused by the Breach of Duty

The element of causation in a medical malpractice claim refers to the link between the healthcare provider’s breach of duty and the patient’s harm or injury. It is required to prove that the healthcare provider’s negligent actions or omissions directly caused or contributed to a patient’s injuries.

Two types of causation are typically considered in a medical malpractice case:

  • Causation in fact (actual cause): requires showing that the healthcare provider’s breach of duty was a factual cause of the patient’s harm. 
  • Proximate cause (foreseeable cause): focuses on whether the harm or injury suffered by the patient was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the healthcare provider’s breach of duty.

Establishing causation in a medical malpractice claim often requires expert testimony and medical evidence. Working with an experienced medical malpractice attorney and medical experts can help evaluate the patient’s medical records, review the details of the case, and provide insight on how the healthcare provider’s negligence directly caused or significantly contributed to the patient’s harm. A legal team and medical professionals can assess whether the provider’s actions or omissions were a substantial factor in causing the patient to suffer injuries or worsen their health condition.

Proving Damages Resulting from Breach of Duty

Proving the resulting injuries or damages caused by a breach of duty is a crucial element in a successful medical malpractice claim. This involves providing evidence which demonstrates that the patient suffered injuries or other damages as a direct result of the healthcare provider’s breach of duty or negligence. Gathering and preserving all relevant medical records, bills, and documentation that demonstrate the extent of harm suffered by the patient is necessary for filing a claim. Evidence can also include medical reports, diagnostic test results, treatment plans, and records of ongoing medical expenses. 

Seeking guidance from an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help gather evidence, documentation, and provide expert legal advice. Proving damages resulting from a breach of duty is essential for holding the negligent party liable and seeking compensation in a medical malpractice claim.