If you believe you are a victim of malpractice, you may wonder: How do you prove medical negligence?
Proving medical negligence requires understanding the types of medical negligence cases and the legal requirements involved.
The legal standard to prove medical negligence is more complicated than a simple declaration that “the doctor was negligent.”
There are certain legal elements you must prove to have a viable case.
Types of Medical Negligence Cases
There are various types of medical negligence cases, each of which may involve different facts, injuries, and damages.
Because the burden of proof is so high in such cases, having a lawyer assess your case is key to understanding the type of claim you have, whether there was medical negligence, and whether your injuries are compensable. Below are some common types of medical negligence cases.
A misdiagnosis occurs when a healthcare professional fails to diagnose a patient’s condition properly. Misdiagnosis can result in delayed or incorrect treatment, which can cause the patient’s condition to worsen.
A patient suffers an injury from a negligent misdiagnosis when they experience pain or other manifestation, or when the disease advances beyond where it was at the time of the misdiagnosis.
The condition must have advanced to a point where effective treatment is unlikely, or death occurs.
It can also be a case of negligent misdiagnosis if treatment is possible, but such treatment would involve expense, or bad side effects that would not likely have occurred had treatment commenced earlier.
Patients seeking to make a medical negligence case must show a healthcare professional in a similar specialty would or should have made the appropriate diagnosis.
Patients may have a legitimate medical negligence claim if they suffer adverse effects or serious harm from a medication error or an inaccurate prescription.
Medication errors on the part of a healthcare professional can include the following:
- Improper medication combinations,
- Prescribing the wrong medication or dosage,
- Handwriting errors,
- Administering the wrong medication, and
- Failing to monitor the patient’s response to the medication properly.
Patients can also sue pharmacies for malpractice. The most common type of medication error claims against pharmacies involves filling a prescription with the wrong medication or dosage.
The administration of anesthesia is a necessary part of most surgeries. Anesthesia errors can include:
- Administering too much or too little anesthesia,
- Failing to monitor the patient during the procedure, and
- Failing to inform the patient of the associated risks.
Like any medical procedure, administering anesthesia comes with inherent risks. When the provider advises you of potential complications and administers the anesthesia correctly, you likely will not have a case even if you suffer harm.
To have a viable case for anesthesia malpractice, you must be able to show that the healthcare professional or facility that administered the drug did so negligently.
4 Elements of Medical Negligence
Not all negative outcomes in medical treatment are the result of negligence.
Medical treatment is not an exact science, and many factors can impact a patient’s outcome. The biggest factor is whether the acts or omissions by the healthcare professional constitute negligence.
Under Maryland law, the legal theory of medical negligence is often broken down into four elements of medical negligence.
- Duty of care. The healthcare professional owes you a legal duty to observe the proper professional standard of care.
- Breach. The healthcare professional breached their duty of care by deviating from or falling below the required standard of care.
- Causation. The healthcare professional’s breach of the standard of care caused or contributed to causing your injury.
- Damages. You suffered damages because of the injuries.
You must prove these four crucial elements to show that the healthcare professional was negligent.
The first element is generally the easiest to prove. A healthcare professional owes a duty of care whenever a doctor-patient or provider-patient relationship exists.
To establish the second element of breach, the patient must show that the healthcare professional’s treatment clearly deviated from or fell short of the accepted medical standards of care.
Defining the applicable standard of care and proving it was breached is usually the central battleground in medical negligence cases.
A medical negligence claim’s third and fourth elements are essentially two elements combined. You must show that you were physically injured and that the provider’s breach of the standard of care was the cause of that injury.
Do I Have a Medical Negligence Case?
Over the years, the lawyers at Baird Mandalas Brockstedt & Federico, LLC, have successfully represented hundreds of medical negligence victims across Baltimore, Maryland, and D.C., securing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of settlements. Contact us online today!