Medical malpractice, or medical negligence as it is also called, is care or treatment by a medical provider (doctor, nurse, therapist, etc.) that is found to be below the accepted standard of care and that caused harm to a patient. In a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is the burden of the patient who is alleging injury to prove that the medical provider failed to render proper care to her, and that failure was a substantial contributing cause of the injuries claimed. Establishing that the medical provider’s care fell below the standard of care can, in some cases, be fairly straightforward and is often easier to prove than the question of causation, i.e. linking the injury to the substandard care.
When analyzing if a deviation from the standard of care occurred during the treatment of a patient, consultation with the correct medical expert(s) is critical before determining if a lawsuit can be filed. The experts help the lawyer to assess what the medical standard of care was under the specific circumstances of a potential case, and then determining whether the medical provider’s care was sub-standard.
If in the expert’s opinion the medical provider’s care fell below the accepted standard, then the patient is required to prove that the below-standard care was factual cause of harm suffered by the patient. The level of proof required is “within a reasonable degree of medical certainty.” This is interpreted as a “more likely than not” standard of proof, and in medical negligence cases is always requires expert testimony.
Surgeries and medical procedures carry with them an inherent number or risks and complications that can occur, even when they are performed flawlessly. These are known and accepted risks. And sometimes, despite the best care, healing and return to function does not occur. It is often difficult to prove within a reasonable degree of medical certainty that a bad outcome was caused by negligence of the surgeon. Likewise, in a delayed cancer diagnosis case simply because cancer and cancer treatments have well-known and accepted risks that can lead to significant disability and death, proving that if the doctor detected the disease earlier the patient’s outcome would have been better is often very difficult.
That being said, the medical malpractice team at Locks Law Firm works with the best and most respected physician experts in their field. Careful and detailed analysis of medical and legal issues of potential matters permits the lawyers at Locks Law Firm to fully discuss with our clients the risks and benefits of moving forward with a medical negligence lawsuit.