Medical malpractice happens when a patient is harmed by a doctor, nurse, or another medical professional who fails to competently perform his or her medical duties. A patient is injured by a negligent act or omission by a doctor, lab, nurse, surgeon, or another medical professional. The negligence might be the result of errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare, or health management.
What are the Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim
There typically aren’t any guarantees of medical results. Unexpected or unsuccessful results don’t necessarily mean negligence happened.
When a person is seriously injured and wants to bring a medical malpractice claim against a surgeon, a physician, hospital, or other healthcare staff member, he or she must prove that the doctor or medical personnel acted negligently in providing care and that this negligence resulted in injury. There are four legal elements that must be shown to succeed on a claim:
- The physician, hospital, or other healthcare staff member owed a duty to the patient;
- The facility of individual breached that duty;
- That breach caused the patients’ injury; and
- The patient incurred damages.
There are specific medical standards that are recognized by the profession as being acceptable treatment by reasonably prudent health care professionals under like or similar circumstances—it’s known as the standard of care. A patient has a right to expect that health care professionals will provide care that’s consistent with the acceptable standard of care. When that standard of care isn’t met, there may be negligence.
Let’s look at these elements in more detail:
Duty to the Patient. The physician owes a legal duty to a patient when he or she agrees to treat the patient. That duty arises when the doctor-patient relationship is established. Again, that legal duty in a malpractice case is a medical standard of care.
Breach of Duty. A physician or other medical professional breaches that duty if an injury was the result of negligence. In addition to showing that a health care professional violated the standard of care, the patient must also prove he or she sustained an injury that would not have happened absent negligence. So, an unfavorable outcome alone isn’t malpractice. The patient must show that the negligence caused the injury.
Causation. After it is proven that a doctor had a duty and was negligent in performing that duty, the patient must show that the doctor’s conduct caused injury or harm. In a medical malpractice case, the causal connection is made by showing that the patient’s health situation was made worse because of the doctor’s negligence and that the worsened condition wouldn’t have happened without the doctor’s negligence.
Damages. Finally, the patient must demonstrate measurable injuries to be entitled to damages. This may include the expense of additional or corrective medical procedures, disability, loss of income, hardship, and future medical bills, as well as compensation for pain and suffering caused by the doctor’s error.
What Are Some Examples of Medical Malpractice?
A medical malpractice claim can be caused by a wide variety of problems with a patient’s care. This is a list of some examples of medical negligence that might lead to a lawsuit:
- Failure to diagnose an illness or a failure to recognize symptoms;
- A misdiagnosis:
- Inadequate follow-up or aftercare;
- Premature discharge from the hospital;
- Prescribing or administering the wrong medication or dosage;
- Ignoring or failing to take into account the patient’s medical history;
- Failing to collect the appropriate patient history;
- Failing to order the proper testing;
- Misreading or disregarding laboratory test results;
- Unnecessary surgery;
- Surgical errors; and
- Operating on the wrong surgery site.
Medical malpractice lawsuits are very complex and extremely expensive to litigate. These actions often necessitate the testimony of many medical experts and hours of deposition testimony and discovery. It’s one of the most common personal injury lawsuits but requires the skills and background of an experienced Florida personal injury attorney at Trentalange & Kelley P.A. in Tampa, Florida.
We’ll help you with all of the issues to make certain that you’re successful in obtaining the compensation you deserve, and your legal rights are protected.
Contact the medical malpractice attorneys at TK Law today. Call 813-226-1080 for a free consultation.