If you plan on filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a medical professional, you’re probably wondering what evidence you will need to include in order to prove your case. You must be able to establish that the healthcare professional or doctor who provided you with medical care or treatment was negligent, thus causing you harm as a result. This article will outline the steps you need to take to successfully prove your medical malpractice case in a court of law.
In a doctor-patient relationship, the doctor has a responsibility to provide you with competent care based on a patient’s circumstances. In a medical malpractice case, this element is not very difficult to prove. If the care your doctor provided was absent from any specific agreement or provided treatment or diagnosis, then a doctor-patient relationship did exist. This particular medical malpractice case element goes unchallenged for the most part.
Medical Malpractice Negligence Elements
A medical malpractice claim’s objective is to demonstrate that a defendant, such as a hospital, nurse, or doctor was negligent in caring for you. A lawyer must be able to prove the following under this legal theory:
- The patient suffered an injury under the medical professional’s care
- The plaintiff’s injury was a result of the defendant’s breach of duty
- The defendant deviated from the standard of care that is expected of a healthcare professional and therefore breached their duty to the patient
- The defendant had a duty of care to the injured patient (doctor-patient relationship)
Evidence and Testimony Related to the Doctor’s Negligent Care
To prove medical malpractice negligence, a lawyer and the plaintiff must be able to show that the conduct displayed by the defendant fell beneath the expected standard of care that should occur in the healthcare field.
Expert witnesses, such as doctors or other healthcare providers, may need to testify about what a skilled, knowledgeable doctor may have done in a similar situation. Expert testimony is usually presented on both the plaintiff and the defendant’s sides regarding whether the doctor, based on accepted medical care standards, provided competent care. Medical professional groups publish clinical practice guidelines that are occasionally used to provide evidence related to a physician’s standard of care in certain situations.
To paint a clear picture of the doctor’s liability for medical negligence, an expert witness will need to be able to show that your physician provided care that didn’t measure up to the standard of care you should have received. They will also need to apply these same care standards to your case by presenting extensive testimony regarding what they should have done, versus what they did.
Damages Resulting from an Injury
If a patient did not suffer any harm due to their doctor performing below the expected standards of care in their area of expertise, they cannot sue for medical malpractice.
Some types of harm that a patient can sue for include:
- Lost work and earning capacity
- Additional medical bills
- Mental anguish
- Physical pain
If the injury caused a patient to die, their family members can sue for the following damages:
- Loss of future earnings
- Pain and suffering of the victim before their death
- Medical bills
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Emotional losses including companionship, guidance, affection, or mental consortium
- Loss of future healthcare or retirement benefits
In many situations, if a provider fails to obtain informed consent from the patient before administering a treatment or a procedure, that is considered medical negligence and could result in a battery charge. Informed consent is a specific definition that can vary from state-to-state. Essentially, it means that a doctor or another medical provider must disclose all of the potential alternatives, risks, and benefits involved in a patient’s course of treatment, medical procedure, or surgical procedure, and obtain their written consent before receiving care.
Negligent Prescription of Medical Devices or Medications
Suppose a patient becomes injured due to a medical professional prescribing an incorrect dosage or medication or ignoring the manufacturer’s medical device instructions. In this case, the medical professional may be held liable for negligently prescribing the medication or the patient’s device. Pharmaceutical manufacturers may be held responsible if a drug injures a patient, but this is only the case if they fail to warn the doctor about the possible dangers or side effects of the medication.
Prescribing physicians are considered to be “learned intermediaries.” This means that due to their high level of medical knowledge and the fact that they were given sufficient information about the medication or device from the manufacturer, they were in a good position to determine whether the device or the drug was appropriate for the patient. Therefore, a doctor has a duty of care to advise their patients on the side effects and risks associated with the medical device or medication they prescribe.
Get Help From The Eichholz Law Firm
If you were injured due to medical malpractice negligence, contact our legal team to learn about taking legal action. You will need professional legal representation and guidance from an experienced attorney, as medical malpractice law is regulated by a variety of complex rules that vary considerably from state-to-state.