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If a physician or other medical professional fails to meet the standard of care in the performance of his or her duties resulting in patient harm, the patient or his or her family may be entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice suit. In such an event you should speak with a skilled attorney regarding the possibility of a claim.
In every malpractice case, certain criteria must be met before you have an actionable case. These include:
- The existence of a care relationship. The initial step in establishing malpractice is showing that a doctor-patient relationship existed at the time the patient injury occurred. Only physicians or medical professionals actively engaged in the diagnosis or treatment of a patient may be liable for medical malpractice.
- Medical negligence is provable. A poor experience does not give enough grounds on its own to justify a malpractice claim. For a claim to be established, it must be proven that the patient was harmed because of treatment that did not meet the standard of care. Therefore, if the care given was not within the standard of care, a malpractice suit may be possible. Generally, a medical standard of care must be established by an industry professional, and the plaintiff and his or her attorney must show how the doctor deviated from this standard.
- Injury resulting from medical negligence. Those engaged in malpractice suits are often ill when visiting the doctor, so it must be established that actions on the part of the physician, and not his or her condition, caused the harm. This is often established by consulting with another physician to determine whether lack of proper medical care caused the injury in question causal factor in the injury.
- Damages resulted from the injury. Even if all of the previous criteria are met, it must be established that the patient suffered actual damages and harm as the result of the doctor’s failure to meet the standard of care. This can often take the form of physical pain, loss of wages due to injury, emotional or mental pain, and resultant additional medical costs.
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Common Malpractice Areas
Numerous situations where a patient suffers injury due to a physician’s error or oversight can warrant a malpractice claim, but many of these fall under just a few categories. The most common malpractice types are:
- Failing to diagnose properly. Poor diagnosis can be established if the doctor would have either discovered the illness or made an appropriate diagnosis based on the facts the doctor was given if he or she had met the appropriate standard of care.
- Inappropriate treatment. A doctor administering treatment which does not comply with the applicable standard of care may have committed medical malpractice.
- Inadequate communication of known risks. Doctors are legally obligated to inform patients of all known risks that can come from a treatment or procedure before it has begun. If the physician fails to do this and a known but uncommunicated risk causes damage to the patient, this can be considered malpractice.
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