5 Must Haves to Prove Medical Negligence
When getting medical care for an injury or illness does not go as planned, it is common for patients and their loved ones to consider their options for bringing a claim against the doctor, hospital, or medical staff. Receiving compensation through a legal claim against a medical professional or institution is not always a simple task, however, as it requires that certain aspects be present before, during, or after the failed or negligent treatment. For those who have experienced a situation where medical negligence may be at play, here are the five must-have factors necessary to prove a case.
The Doctor-Patient Relationship
Before a legal claim against a health care professional or organisation can be brought, a doctor-patient relationship must be in existence. This means that the doctor or other provider offered to deliver a diagnosis, care, or treatment of the patient who sought out the care. If there is no statement of the doctor-patient relationship in writing, often it is viewed that the patient’s visit to a doctor’s office as proof enough of the relationship. When a doctor-patient relationship is in existence, the doctor or other provider has a duty to provide competent care. In most medical negligence cases, showing evidence of the doctor-patient relationship is relatively simple to do.
Breach of Standard of Care
All patients who seek out care or treatment from a medical provider have the right to receive the highest quality care available. Under the law, doctors providing medical treatment are required to act with the skill and care that any equally-trained health care professional would have, given the circumstances, which is known as the standard of care. When medical negligence is present, that standard of care is breached.
A representative from a medical negligence solicitors firm in the UK explains that in today’s medical environment, the standard of care in a malpractice case is determined through the testimony of medical professionals who are thought to be experts in the field relating to the case. The medical experts state what the doctor in question should have done in the patient’s situation compared to what actually took place. A breach of the standard of care is proven when expert testimony shows that a patient’s provider failed to deliver care at a specific level.
Causation between Negligence and Injury or Illness
In addition to providing evidence of a doctor-patient relationship and a failed standard of care, individuals bringing a case for medical negligence must also be able to show the causation between the care provided and his or her specific illness or injuries. Failure to act or provide adequate care can cause a patient’s health condition at the time to worsen, or it may result in additional injuries or health issues that were not present prior to the negligent care. It is necessary to make clear that the poor care received by a health care provider was the reason for the added injury or illness – not a pre-existing medical condition.
Proof of Damages
Patients or their family members must also be able to show how the negligent care caused specific harm, known as damages. Each medical negligence case differs from the next, but generally speaking, damages may include the expenses associated with additional treatment, a loss of income due to not being able to continue working during that additional treatment, or mental and physical pain and suffering. Damages awarded in a medical negligence case have to be quantifiable and evidence-based.
Meeting the Standard of Proof
Finally, any individual bringing a lawsuit against a medical professional or health care institution must be able to show evidence of the required elements listed above “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This means that the aspects of the case are more likely than not to be true, which is a lower standard of proof than other cases heard in criminal court. However, meeting the burden of proof required for medical negligence cases is not a simple or quick task, especially when the details of the case are complex or span a long period. To best understand if a medical negligence case is an option to receive compensation for injuries or illness due to less than quality care received, it is beneficial to first discuss the details of the incident with an experienced attorney.
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