Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional, like a doctor or nurse, fails to provide proper care, which results in harm or injury to the patient. You may have a medical malpractice case if you can prove that the healthcare provider’s actions or lack of actions fell below the accepted standard of care and caused your injury. Here are the elements of a medical malpractice case.
1. Duty of Care
In medical practice, the duty of care refers to the legal and ethical obligation that healthcare professionals have to provide a standard of care that is reasonably expected from their peers in similar circumstances. This duty requires healthcare providers to act in a manner that is diligent, competent, and in the best interest of their patients, with the goal of preventing harm or injury.
Healthcare professionals must exercise their duty of care by employing their knowledge, skills, and experience to diagnose, treat, and manage patients’ medical conditions. They must make informed decisions based on current medical standards and guidelines, considering each patient’s individual needs and circumstances. This duty also encompasses properly communicating with patients, obtaining informed consent, maintaining patient confidentiality, and ensuring a safe and secure environment for care.
2. Breach of Duty
When a doctor or medical practitioner takes the Hippocratic Oath, they make a solemn promise to uphold ethical standards and provide competent and appropriate care to their patients. However, when a breach of duty occurs, it means that the healthcare professional has failed to meet the expected standard of care, thereby violating their contractual agreement with the patient.
This breach may involve negligent actions, such as misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication mistakes, or failure to communicate important information. These actions can lead to detrimental consequences for the patient, including worsening health conditions, unnecessary pain and suffering, or even death.
In medical practice, an injury refers to harm or damage caused to a patient as a result of medical treatment or negligence. When discussing injury in a legal context, the concept of causation becomes crucial. Causation refers to the link between the actions or omissions of a doctor and the actual harm suffered by the patient.
Actual harm caused refers to the tangible negative consequences experienced by the patient as a direct result of the doctor’s actions. This harm can manifest in various forms, such as physical pain, disability, psychological distress, or financial loss.
Proximate cause, also referred to as legal cause, goes beyond the direct cause-and-effect relationship. It involves an evaluation of whether the harm suffered was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the doctor’s actions or omissions. Proximate cause examines whether the harm was within the scope of the risk created by the doctor’s conduct.
Damages in a medical practice case refer to the financial compensation sought by the injured party due to the harm caused by medical negligence or malpractice. These damages can be categorized into economic and noneconomic losses, which include emotional distress and lost wages.
Economic losses encompass quantifiable financial damages directly related to the injury. They typically include medical expenses such as hospital bills, surgeries, medications, and therapy costs. Additionally, economic damages may also account for future medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses, and any necessary modifications to the injured person’s lifestyle or living arrangements.
Noneconomic losses refer to damages that are more subjective and challenging to quantify in monetary terms. These damages focus on the emotional and psychological impact of the injury. They can include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium (the loss of companionship and intimacy for the injured person’s spouse or partner).
Are you a victim of medical malpractice? Daniels, Long & Pinsel, LLC, provides legal services to people facing personal injuries, felonies, misdemeanors, sex offenses, and DUI charges. Contact us now for more information.