Medical treatment facilities, such as hospitals and nursing homes, owe a certain quality of treatment to patients who turn to them for medical attention. These businesses are trusted for providing quality care to patients they serve. When negligence occurs in these facilities, victims are encouraged to seek legal guidance from a qualified medical malpractice attorney that are entitled to sue for medical malpractice.
Medical Malpractice Explained
When a medical provider has breached “duty of care” in treatment of a patient, a medical malpractice case may result. A breach of duty of care means that the hospital or nursing home did not provide a minimum quality of care. A medical malpractice case can result when a specific personal injury is suffered by the patient of that medical provider as a result of the breach of duty of care.
Medical Malpractice Legal Elements
For any lawsuit, medical malpractice or otherwise, burden of proof is the plaintiff’s responsibility. In a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff must establish all legal elements of the case. Missing elements result in a judgment for the hospital or nursing home.
In civil cases, jurors must decide based upon evidence that leans in the plaintiff’s favor. The decision will be based upon whether the plaintiff has clearly established that the defendant most likely met all of the medical malpractice claim’s required legal elements.
Required legal elements for a medical malpractice case include:
Duty of Care
Victims are responsible for showing that there was a duty of care. This means that the hospital or nursing home’s provider was supposed to care for this particular patient using a certain education and skill level. Duty is measured according to what other providers of the same quality would have done in the same situation.
But some doctors are independent contractors. When doctors are not employees of the medical facility where medical malpractice occurred, duty of care can be blurred. The question then becomes whether the accused hospital or nursing home owed a duty to the plaintiff.
Breach of Duty
The second legal element of a malpractice case that must be established by the plaintiff is that the nursing home or hospital did not meet the duty of care. Using accepted standards of medical care, the medical malpractice case can prove how the hospital or nursing home failed to meet those standards. Medical experts are usually called in to testify about what most healthcare professionals would have done to take care of the patient in the same circumstances.
A breach of duty of care can occur in many ways. One example may be that a logical diagnosis was not provided by the physician according to the patient’s described symptoms. If a delay in treatment or additional injuries result because there was not a timely and accurate diagnosis, a breach of duty of care can be proven.
Another example may be that a mistake was made when providing care. A healthcare provider may have left surgical equipment in the patient’s body or did not perform a procedure properly. Nursing homes tend to experience malpractice cases from not feeding patients as they should, helping patients to avoid the development of bedsores, or ensuring that patients take their prescribed medications. Nursing homes and hospitals with unsanitary conditions can be held responsible for infections or worsening of health symptoms resulting from those unsanitary conditions.
The law requires patients to show that resulting injuries or illness would not have occurred, if it was not for the breach of duty. This direct link between resulting injuries and failures in provision of patient care can be hard to prove. As an example, a fatal condition may still be fatal, whether or not it is diagnosed in a timely manner.
For a medical malpractice suit to be warranted, the patient must have suffered harm. Such harm may have been economic or non-economic. Displeasure with the quality of care is not enough for success of a medical malpractice claim.
Damages can include medical expenses incurred through additional treatment needed because of a breach of duty. Lost wages are considered damages when the plaintiff had to miss work for treatment or recovery because of the breach of duty. Pain, suffering and emotional anguish are often included as non-economic damages.
Legal Assistance for Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice cases are very complex. They require experienced legal assistance from a Phoenix personal injury lawyer. If you want to discuss the circumstances of your medical malpractice case or find out if you have a justifiable claim, contact Cantor Crane today.