When a medical professional has failed to completely perform their medical duties, and a patient is harmed, medical malpractice has occurred. In order to prove a medical malpractice case, there are some general principals and rules that apply in most instances. In order to prove that medical malpractice occurred, a patient must show all of the following things:
- The Existence of a Doctor-Patient Relationship – The patient needs to show that they had a doctor-patient relationship with the doctor they are suing. This means that the patient hired the doctor and the doctor agreed to be hired by the patient. This is easy to prove if the doctor treated the patient. However, questions as to whether the relationship existed can arise when the doctor was consulting with the patient, but did not actually treat the patient directly.
- The Doctor was Negligent – Simply being unhappy with the treatment the patient was provided does not mean that the doctor committed medical malpractice. For there to be medical malpractice, the doctor must have been negligent when diagnosing or treating the patient. The patient needs to show that the doctor caused them harm when a competent doctor, under similar circumstances, would not have.
- The Negligence of the Doctor Resulted in Injury – Since patients are often already sick or injured when they go to the doctor, there is often a question regarding whether the doctor actually caused the harm, regardless of negligence. In most cases, the patient will need a medical expert to testify that the doctor’s negligence is what caused the patient to be injured.
- The Injury Resulted in Specific Damages – even in cases where the doctor did not meet the expected standards in his or her field, if the patient did not suffer harm, then he or she cannot sue. Types of harm include additional medical bills, lost work and lost earning capacity, mental anguish, and physical pain.
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