Medical Malpractice 101-What You Should Know

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice

Whether or not an injured patient can or cannot recover compensation from an allegedly negligent doctor will hinge upon several common issues that all injured patients should be aware of.  They are very basic and easy to understand.  After hearing them, most people feel that these issues are almost common sense.

The fact remains, however, that while medical malpractice legal issues are easy to grasp, there are many nuances that experienced Hudson medical malpractice attorneys are aware of that are not “common sense” issues.

For the time being, let us start with the basics.

An injured patient cannot sue a doctor that was not treating him or her in relation to the injury complained of.  This seems obvious, but it can get confusing.  The patient must have been treated by the offending doctor.  In other words, there must have been a doctor patient relationship.  The injury complained of must have occurred during that relationship, or at least must have arisen out of that relationship.

How can it get confusing?  Let us use a hypothetical scenario.  A patient has a primary physician who misdiagnosed an illness.  The patient later sees a dentist and tells the dentist about the diagnosis during an oral exam that had nothing to do with the faulty diagnosis.  The patient may have a case against the primary physician, but the patient would not have a case against the dentist.  This is because the dentist did not make the mistake, nor did the dentist see the patient in relation to the illness connected to the failed diagnoses.

Once there is a doctor patient relationship, the doctor must provide care that which any other prudent doctor would provide in the area.  If another doctor in similar circumstances would not have messed up like the treating doctor did, then negligence probably has arose.  New York courts require expert testimony to establish the standard of care and deviation there from.  So, the relationship must exist and there must be negligence. 

Another issue is one of causation.  This means that the doctor’s negligence must have caused the patient’s injury.  This is one of the harder points to prove because many patients simply will not be cured as they had hoped.  For example, failing to cure a patient’s cancer does not automatically mean that the doctor was negligent.  A medical expert will be needed to help the plaintiff establish the causal connection. 

The last issue patients need to understand is about damages – monetary compensation.   Without damages, the patient cannot receive compensation.  This means that the patient’s injury must have gave rise to pain and suffering, lost income, medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and the like. 

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at jfisher@fishermalpracticelaw.com.  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com

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