Medical malpractice suits are among the most complicated legal issues that a person may face. Many factors must be proven in order to win a malpractice case. Simply having a bad outcome, even death, does not constitute grounds for a medical lawsuit.
It Must be Proved that a Mistake was Made and Damages Ensued
First, it must be proved that the doctor, nurse or other medical practitioner made a mistake that directly damaged the patient. Just the fact that a doctor made a mistake is not sufficient to make a malpractice case.
Some examples of medical mistakes that can lead to damage are:
- errors or delays in diagnosing a patient’s medical condition
- misreading or misinterpreting X-rays or other tests
- performing medical services without a conscious patient’s informed consent
- prescribing the wrong drugs, the wrong dosages or combination
- failing to warn a conscious patient of the side effects or risks
- making a mistake during childbirth or surgery
A Mistake Must be Made by a Hired Medical Practitioner
It must also be proved that there was a true patient-medical practitioner relationship, not something done by a person who was not the employed doctor, nurse, caregiver or emergency medical worker. Good Samaritan Laws protect passers-by who get involved in emergency medical scenes from lawsuits, unless it can be proven they committed willful negligence.
On the other hand, negligent actions of doctors or nurses that result in injury should be discussed with a lawyer as soon as possible. Negligence, according to Otorowski Johnston Morrow & Golden P.L.L.C., can be the act of doing something that shouldn’t have been done or the failure to do something that needed to be done. If the patient is too sick or injured to meet with an attorney, a well-informed family member can attend the consultation meeting.
Deviation from Accepted Medical Practice Standards
“In legal terms, Standard of Care is defined as the level at which an ordinary, prudent professional with the same training and experience in good standing in a same or similar community would practice under the same or similar circumstances.”
Some communities and environments are not as well equipped to deal with certain medical emergencies than others. For example, an ambulance is not equipped to do surgery and therefore the paramedics could not be considered negligent if they failed to provide this service. On the other hand, a homeless person would be expected to receive the same quality of care during an operation in a hospital as a person who is well insured.
Therefore, proving that there was a deviation from the Standard of Care Guidelines can be complicated. Lawyers and expert witnesses are needed to establish is the event constitutes malpractice.
Lawsuit Must be Filed within the Time Frame Allowed by Law
As with other criminal and civil legal matters, a statute of limitations applies in bodily injury cases. These limitations vary depending on the circumstances and locale.
It’s prudent to contact a law firm experienced in handling medical malpractice lawsuits to determine if your situation is actionable. Most attorneys who work these cases do so on a contingency fee basis, meaning that their legal fees are paid when the settlement is secured at the end of the case.
Medical malpractice can result in unnecessary physical, emotional and psychological damage. In addition, there can be increased medical costs and lost employee wages. Such harm warrants monetary compensation.