According to the most recent studies, medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Nobody’s perfect, not even doctors, but when a medical professional is negligent, serious personal injuries or even wrongful death could result. Medical mistakes happen every day, but there is a big difference between a doctor mistaking flu symptoms for a bad cold and a doctor mistaking lung cancer for a bad cold. Both misdiagnoses could be the result of medical negligence, but you might have a case for medical malpractice in only one of those situations.
Medical negligence can take many forms, including improper treatment and failure to diagnose a harmful disorder or illness. A doctor failing to warn a patient about the risks of a treatment, procedure or condition can also be considered medical negligence, especially if a serious injury results. Although medical negligence can come in many forms, all medical malpractice cases have a few things in common.
4 Things You Need to Prove If You Have a Case for Medical Malpractice
A doctor making any kind of mistake might be enough to make you mad, but it isn’t always enough for a medical malpractice case. In order for a medical error to be “medical malpractice”, you have to be able to prove these four basic things about your case:
- There was a doctor-patient relationship. This is usually (but not always) pretty easy to prove. If you went to a medical professional for treatment and he or she agreed to see you, then you had a doctor-patient relationship. Things can get a little tricky if several doctors worked together on your case, but a medical malpractice lawyer may be able to prove the relationship existed.
- The doctor was negligent. The definition of “negligence” can get a little murky, especially after the fact. A doctor is only considered to be negligent if he or she did something that another, competent doctor would not have done (or vice versa). If the doctor provided a reasonable standard of care, given all of the information available, it is unlikely that he or she would be considered negligent.
- You were injured as the result of the doctor’s negligence. This means that you have to be able to connect your injury to the mistake the doctor made. This can be difficult if you were already sick or injured when you went for treatment. Usually, your personal injury lawyer will hire a medical expert, like a nurse consultant or other professional, to testify about your specific condition to prove this point.
- Your injury caused you specific harm. This is the requirement that separates most medical malpractice cases from other medical errors. If your doctor misdiagnosed your flu as a cold, you might have spent a few extra days in bed, or you might have had to go back for a second diagnosis. It’s inconvenient, for sure, but you really weren’t harmed by the misdiagnosis. There’s nothing big you need to be compensated for. However, if your lung cancer was misdiagnosed as a cold, you might not get treated fast enough, which could lead to more complications. In this situation, you can prove that your overall health (and possibly even your lifespan) was damaged by the misdiagnosis, so you would likely have a case for medical malpractice.
If you have been injured as the result of medical negligence, our medical malpractice lawyers can help you determine whether you have a case for medical malpractice. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation. The information provided by Walton Telken, LLC in this Blog is not intended to be legal advice, but merely provides general information related to common legal issues. This Blog, and the information contained within it, is Attorney Advertisement. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Past results afford no guarantee of future results. Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.