Thousands of people are harmed every year through medical misdiagnosis, surgical errors, and other types of medical malpractice. Although each state’s medical board sets its own standards and regulations for malpractice, the common definition for medical malpractice among all states is the failure of a medical professional to provide their patient with a standard duty of care. Know how you can prove your medical malpractice claim.
If you have been harmed or have lost a loved one through medical malpractice, we can help. Call The Joel Bieber firm today to schedule a free consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer in your state.
Understanding the Basics of Medical Malpractice
Malpractice is a legal claim against a medical care provider, holding them responsible for providing below-standard medical care or misdiagnosing your condition.
Although many people think only a doctor commits malpractice, a medical malpractice claim can be filed against any licensed medical professional, like a nurse, CNA, surgical tech, or doctor.
To establish a claim for medical malpractice, several conditions must be met:
- There was an established doctor-patient relationship by treatment or agreement
- The medical professional had a legal obligation to provide you with a standard duty of care
- The medical provider did not fulfill their obligation, breaching that duty of care
- The breach of medical duty of care was the primary cause of your harm or worsened health
- Your injury or worsened prognosis caused damages such as treatment expenses or pain and suffering
All of these elements must be met to have a valid malpractice claim. If you’re unsure whether you have a case for malpractice, consult with a medical malpractice lawyer familiar with the responsibilities of physicians and other medical professionals in your state.
Complications in Proving a Medical Malpractice Case
Proving that a medical error has passed the level of mistake and reached the threshold for malpractice can be a complicated legal matter.
Understandably, the medical facility where you received subpar treatment is unwilling to admit that one of its doctors or other employees committed malpractice. And this isn’t the only consideration for successfully litigating a medical malpractice claim.
Sometimes, complications from a misdiagnosis or improperly performed medical procedure don’t present right away, which can make proving causation more challenging.
Many medical malpractice lawyers are also familiar with medical procedures, symptoms of common malpractice injuries, and medical terminology, so they understand how to draw the line between your medical procedure or misdiagnosis and your current symptoms.
Often, the medical care facility may be unwilling to disclose errors made by one of its physicians or nurses. Your medical malpractice lawyer will need to build the links between the initial mistake or misdiagnosis and your current condition. Your medical history and the testimony of expert witnesses will be the primary components of your malpractice claim.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
Although a medical error or malpractice action can happen any time you visit the doctor or a hospital, there are some types of malpractice that the medical malpractice lawyers at The Joel Bieber Firm see most often. These include:
- Misdiagnosis or failure to properly diagnose a disease
- Unnecessary surgery or surgical errors
- Overlooking or misreading lab and other test results
- Medication overdose or miss dosage — or prescribing medications that interact badly
- Inadequate follow-up and aftercare
- Premature discharge resulting in unnecessary complications
- Failure to take an appropriate or complete medical history of the patient
- Failure to correctly attribute presenting symptoms
This is just a small list of examples where a patient could suffer because of a medical misdiagnosis.
How a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Proves Malpractice
Building the case for malpractice starts with assessing your current medical condition and comparing that to your condition before you initially sought treatment. Your lawyer will need to prove each of the four elements of malpractice.
They will begin by establishing that you were a patient of the doctor, nurse, or other professionals. This is a matter of proving that you elected to receive services (you made and kept an appointment) or that the treatment you received constituted establishing a doctor-patient relationship (you had chest pains and went to the ER to be evaluated).
The next step is proving that the treating physician owed you, as the patient, a duty of care. This is the simplest part to prove; the doctor was licensed to practice medicine where you were treated.
Next, your attorney establishes whether the care you received satisfied the standards expected by your state’s medical board.
The defendant will likely state that they provided sufficient quality of care, and your lawyer will refute this. To do so, your attorney may call expert witnesses, such as other practitioners in the same field as your doctor, to testify as to the steps they would have taken if you were their patient.
Determining whether the medical provider fulfilled their obligations to you also includes an analysis of your medical records. These show tests that were performed and any laboratory work. The expert witness may evaluate your medical records and note that certain tests should have been run on someone with your symptoms but were not.
Finally, your lawyer needs to connect the breached duty of care and your present state. This may mean showing medical records of a tumor that progressed because it wasn’t detected in a timely manner or showing that you underwent unnecessary procedures for a disease you did not have because you were misdiagnosed.
Every case is different, and so the proof your medical malpractice lawyer will use can vary.
Do You Need Help with a Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you or a loved one has suffered because of a medical error, you have legal options to hold the provider accountable for your pain and worsened physical condition. If you are from Maryland a Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer at The Joel Bieber Firm can help. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary case review.