Medical malpractice cases are those in which the patient is harmed by a doctor or any other medical professional who does not perform his or her medical duties competently. The rules of medical malpractices vary from state to state, but there are some rules that remain constant and these can help you with the medical malpractice case.
Requirements for filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
To be able to prove that a medical malpractice has occurred, the person filing the case should be able to show the following things.
- Existence of a patient–physician relationship
you can only sue a doctor who you hired and the doctor agreed to be hired. It is very easy to prove that a doctor was seeing you and treating you. However, the case becomes complicated if it is filed against the consulting doctor who did not treat the patient directly.
- Negligence of the doctor
you cannot sue a doctor just because you did not get the outcome that you desired. You have to prove that the doctor was negligent in connection to the diagnosis or treatment that you underwent. You have to show that the doctor caused harm to you that a competent doctor would not have caused. During this type of cases whether or not the doctor is “reasonably skillful and competent” is at the center of all discussion. In most of these cases it is necessary that there is a medical expert present who discusses the appropriate medical standard of care that was required in this case and how the defendant deviated from the standard.
- The injury was caused due to the doctor
most of the people who file medical malpractice cases have already been sick or injured before they went to the doctor, hence, the question arises about whether the damage was actually caused by the negligence of the doctor or if the damage was already there and the doctor was not able to help. The patient must be able to prove beyond a doubt that the doctor’s incompetence “most likely than not” caused the damage. This sort of case also requires a medical expert to be present.
- The injury led to specific damage
a medical malpractice case cannot be filed just because of an injury that the doctor or medical practitioner caused. These injuries have to have led to a greater sort of damage that included physical pain, mental anguish, additional medical bills and finally lost work and earning capacity.
Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice claims can be of a wide range from a doctor forgetting to remove a sponge from the patient right up to a doctor not informing the patient about serious ricks to the heart from a prescribed drug. These can be broadly differentiated into the following categories.
Failure to diagnose: the claim will be valid if another competent doctor was able to diagnose the problem correctly and this would lead to a different outcome then the patient will have a valid medical malpractice case.
Improper treatment: a medical malpractice case can be filed if the disease was diagnosed properly but the treatment given to the patient was not correct. In the same way, if the proper treatment was identified but wasn’t administered in the right way then it may be considered as medical malpractice.
Failing to warn a patient of a known risk: it is the doctor’s duty to warn a patient about any harmful side effects or any undesirable outcomes after a particular medical procedure; this duty is known as the duty of informed consent. If this information is not properly delivered to the patient and if they would have made a different decision after knowing the possible consequence then this can be a base for a medical malpractice case.
Other special requirements for medical malpractice cases
Different states have different rules regarding what would be considered medical malpractice. It is important that the person filing a medical malpractice lawsuit know the requirements for the state in which they will be filing the case.
- In most states, it is important that the person file the medical malpractice complaint soon after they discover the injury. The window period in which the case can be validly filed is between 6 months and a year. This time period is called the statute of limitations and if the case is not filed within that time period then the case will be dismissed even if you have the required facts to back the case. In some states, this time period starts from when the injury occurs and in others, it starts from when the injury was discovered.
- Requirement of a special medical malpractice review panel: In some states the claim has to go through a medical malpractice review panel before any decision is made. The review panel will hear the testimony of the medical expert, the arguments from both sides and review the evidence that is presented before them and then decide whether a medical malpractice has occurred. This panel is not a replacement to an actual lawsuit but it is a necessity that the patients have to go through and the findings can be presented before the court.
- Requirement of a special notice: in some states, it is required that the person filing a malpractice case is required to give the doctor against who they will be filing the case adequate notice in the form of a description before the case is filed.
- Requirement of an expert testimony: a crucial part of a patient’s case is that they have a medical practices expert give a testimony about their opinion about whether or not a malpractice has occurred. Different states have different laws about who can qualify as a medical practices expert but it is usually a person from the field in question.
- Limitations on the amount of damage that is awarded to the patient: most states have a limit on the amount of money that can be awarded to the patient who has won a medical malpractice case.