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What Makes a Medical Malpractice Case?

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional deviated from the appropriate standard of care and, as a result, injured the patient in the process. In order to support a medical malpractice case, it is usually necessary to have medical experts piece the information together into a cohesive story.

Medical experts may testify about the accepted standard of care, the way that the healthcare professional deviated from this standard, how the deviation resulted in damages and what these damages consist of.

Case Quality

The quality, reliability and range of the information only have worth if the testifying expert is precise, comprehensive, knowledgeable and up to date. An expert witness can make or break a case, and testimony based on this professional needs to be irrefutable if at all possible or difficult to challenge. Selecting a reviewer is something that should be done with care, as payment for these reviews is typically necessary. Plaintiffs are often required to pay for a preliminary case screening. This expense varies based on the scope of health accounts, difficulty of the suit and the field of the expert.

Suits sometimes have more quality when screened by a secondary medical professional. It is advantageous when accounts of the medical records produce the same review by multiple experts. To ensure better quality with medical professionals working these cases, it is beneficial to start a relationship with these experts before the trial. This would allow future benefits as well as current improved assistance. These relationships will also assist in understanding when reviews of medical records do not validate each other.

Potential Complications in Cases

When patients undergo treatment for issues that have been discussed with their physician, complications may arise on occasion. Not every physical body reacts to the same care in an identical way. Therefore, each medical malpractice case is unique. Potential challenges may arise in the case if any of the following situations arise:

No Deviation from the Standard of Care

Numerous cases are filed for negligence on the part of the patient when the doctor worked within standard medical care as well as the same procedures they performed on other patients in the exact same way. If a family files a medical malpractice suit based on this information and it cannot be proven that the health care provider acted out of accordance within set parameters, recovery is unlikely. The plaintiff has the burden of proving the deviation. Absent this proof, a judge or jury should rule in favor of the defendant.

No Causal Connection

Simply because a patient winds up injured does not mean that a medical malpractice case arises. The plaintiff must be able to show how certain acts or omissions caused the resulting injuries. For example, even if it is proven that a doctor committed a delay in diagnosis, if an earlier diagnosis would not have changed the prognosis, there is likely no causal connection between the delay and the resulting injuries. In some cases, the defendant may be able to successfully argue that another factor caused the resulting injuries, not any particular act or omission by the healthcare provider.

Lack of Support of Damages

In some medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff may be able to successfully prove that the healthcare professional did deviate from the standard of care. However, he or she may not have sustained any injuries as a result of this deviation. In other situations, the patient’s damages may be covered by existing insurance policies, such as health insurance and workers’ compensation, making a personal injury lawsuit unnecessary to make the victim whole.

Case Evaluation

Individuals who believe that a medical professional’s care resulted in medical malpractice may wish to discuss the case with a medical malpractice attorney. Just as the victim will want to evaluate potential lawyers, lawyers will want to evaluate the case’s merit. Potential lawyers who may be appointed to the case may decline to represent the victim for a number of reasons. For example, if the case deals with highly complex facts and medicine, it may be more difficult for the lawyer to try and more expensive if multiple expert witnesses will be required. Some cases are more complex if multiple health care professionals were on the case because it may be difficult to separate out their actions and each doctor may represent a different party in the case.

Lawyers may be less likely to get involved in a case if defense medical experts are expected to include physicians who provided follow-up care since their credibility is usually greater than a hired expert by the plaintiff. If damages are relatively insignificant in comparison to the cost of litigating the case, a lawyer may decline to accept the case. Emotions run high with plaintiffs who have lost loved ones, and though this may be why they file, it is important to scrutinize cases prudently.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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