Initiating a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit –
Things to Keep in Mind

Initiating A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Initiating a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit – Things to Keep in Mind
February 4th, 2020

Medical malpractices in the US are rampant and have become the third-leading cause of death in the country. According to a recent study by John Hopkins University, medical negligence and errors claim more than 250,000 lives in the country every year. However, the number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed against these errors is declining. It is worth noting that even with the number of cases filed decreasing, the compensation paid to plaintiffs in 2018 averaged USD$ 348,075. While fighting a lawsuit against medical practitioners can be tedious, the average compensation and justice on the line are worth battling for. To help you in the process, we have laid down a list of all the basic information required to understand the process and strengthen your chances of winning the case. 

What is Medical Malpractice?

A treatment is considered medical malpractice if a doctor, hospital, or any other health care provider or professional causes injury and harm to a patient through negligence or medical errors. Negligence can be a misdiagnosis or error in aftercare, treatment, or health management. An important point to note here is that the negligence or error should cause significant harm to the patient to qualify as medical malpractice. 

The Basic Requirements to File a Lawsuit

Proof of doctor-patient or healthcare provider-patient relationship: The first and the fundamental requirement to stake a claim for being a victim of medical malpractice is to have documents that can prove a doctor-patient or medical provider-patient relationship existed. Your claim could run into turbulence if the accused physician or healthcare provider does not treat you directly but was at fault. In other circumstances, it is easy to prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed. 

A breach in the standard of care: The United States law dictates that certain standards of treatment are identified in the medical profession that are deemed acceptable by prudent health professionals for use under similar circumstances. This is termed the standard of care. The patient expects doctors and health care professionals to uphold these standards. However, if it is determined that a standard has been breached or substandard treatment is provided, then medical negligence is established and can be proved in a court of law.

Harm or injury caused by negligence: A malpractice claim is only valid if the negligence or error has resulted in an injury or harm to the patient. The patient should prove that the injury or harm caused by the practice would not have occurred in the absence of medical misjudgment or negligence. For example, simply claiming that an unfavorable outcome to treatment is malpractice that would be dismissed immediately. 

The injury caused significant damages: Medical malpractice lawsuits are complicated and are difficult to navigate with the cases involving legal issues such as causation, expert testaments, and the determination of whether or not the standard of care was breached. With these complexities involved, the expenses incurred when fighting these lawsuits can skyrocket. If the damages are small, the cost of fighting the case can easily surpass the compensation recovered. Therefore, to pursue a case, the patient or victim must be able to prove that the medical negligence or erroneous substandard practice cause them a physical injury, pain, mental anguish, disability, loss of livelihood, hardships, and suffering, or substantial expenditure on past or future medical bills. 

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Common Medical Malpractices That Can Be Contested

While medical malpractices can take an array of forms, from a doctor leaving scissors inside a patient’s stomach during the surgery to a doctor’s failure to highlight the side effects of a medicine. Most of the medical malpractices fall under one of the following categories:

Misdiagnosis or Failure in Diagnosis

If a competent doctor fails to diagnose an illness or makes a misdiagnosis, then the doctor or health care professional can be tried under medical malpractice. 

Substandard Treatment

If a health care professional provides a substandard treatment not identified as standard by practitioners in his field, then it can be a viable case of medical malpractice. Similarly, a doctor can be accused of medical malpractice if he opts for a standard treatment but fails to deliver it competently. 

Failure to Warn Patients about Known Side Effects of a Treatment or Drug

The law clearly states that it is the duty of a doctor or a health care professional to outline the known risks of a treatment or a procedure. This is termed the duty of consent. If the information of the procedure could have caused the patient to back out and was still performed while harming or injuring them, then it is a viable case for medical malpractice. Therefore, informed consent must be acquired from patients before doing any procedure that can impact physical or mental health.

Some examples that fall under the medical malpractice category include:

  • Failure to monitor the amount of anesthesia given to a patient
  • Ignoring or omission of laboratory inferences or results
  • Making patients undergo unnecessary surgical procedures
  • Failure to monitor the heart rate of an unborn child during labor
  • Using fatal allergens when treating patients
  • Bedsores formed due to the failure of moving disabled or immobilized patients.
  • Failure to diagnose symptoms 

Find a Medical Malpractice Attorney

Are you stuck in a similar situation and have no idea what to do next? Because medical malpractice laws vary from state to state and are complicated, it is a good idea to consult an attorney. The expert legal supervision will help you identify whether the case is viable or not, the compensation that can be demanded, and the scope of an out-of-court settlement. Sign up today on the Legal Helpers, and we will find you the legal expertise and guidance you are looking for.

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