Each year, approximately 750,000 people die in the U.S. as a result of medical malpractice. Alarmingly, a study by John Hopkins Medicine suggests medical errors should rank as the third leading cause of death in the U.S., following heart disease and cancer.
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient suffers harm as a result of a healthcare provider’s negligence or failure to act according to the standards expected of them. Examples of medical malpractice include unnecessary surgery, misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, medication or dosage errors, premature hospital discharge, and poor aftercare.
As a consequence of medical malpractice, a patient’s condition can worsen, or they may be left with persistent or chronic pain. All of this can result in legal action being taken against the healthcare provider.
If you believe you suffered harm due to medical malpractice and would like to know what your legal options are, read on for advice on the steps to take when proving a medical malpractice claim.
Seek Legal Advice
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can assess the merits of your case and help you understand what is needed to bring a successful claim. Many law firms such as Adam S. Kutner Accident & Injury Attorneys offer free case evaluations and will also represent you on a ‘no win no fee’ basis.
Your lawyer will tell you what documents to put together as evidence, such as medical records, and will also arrange testimony from expert witnesses helping you to build a solid case.
You must be able to show you had a doctor-patient relationship with your healthcare provider. This is relatively straightforward and can be proven by the documentation you filled out at your first appointment seeking medical treatment and where the healthcare provider agreed to treat you.
Breach of Duty of Care
Once the doctor-patient relationship is established, you can prove that the medical provider owed you a duty to provide care to a standard reasonably expected of them.
Proving that they breached this duty may require a medical expert to set out the acceptable standards of care in their profession, explaining how a competent medical professional would have acted in a similar situation.
Upon examining the actions of the healthcare provider in question, the expert can determine whether they failed to meet the medical standards expected of them.
Injury of Harm
You must be able to link the negligence of your doctor to the harm you suffered. If you cannot show that the injury or harm you sustained was directly a result of your doctor’s actions or inactions, your claim will be unsuccessful.
Medical experts may also be essential at this stage to explain how your injuries resulted from the negligence of your healthcare provider.
In addition to proving injury or harm. you must also prove you suffered damages or financial loss for which you can be compensated. Examples of damages in a medical malpractice claim include medical expenses, loss of earnings, pain and suffering, and reduced quality of life.
If you can successfully prove these elements, you have a strong chance of succeeding in your claim and being compensated.
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