After an unsuccessful medical procedure, many patients find themselves wondering if medical malpractice has occurred. It takes more than general dissatisfaction with a procedure to fall under the category of malpractice. It can be difficult to bring a med mal case against a medical professional because the complex system is meant to eliminate frivolous lawsuits. As such, there are requirements that a med mal claim must meet. In this article, we’ll discuss the proof required to file a medical malpractice claim: the 4 Ds, which include the duty of care, deviation from the standard of care, direct cause of injury, and damages.
If you believe your case checks the box on all of the requirements to file a med mal claim and suspect you have suffered as a result of a negligent healthcare provider or entity, contact Sowell and Chakour today. You can reach our medical malpractice lawyers by phone at 1-833-MedMals (633-6257), by email at DrChakour@sowellchakour.com, or by filling out our convenient online contact form.
1. Duty of Care
Once a healthcare professional enters into a doctor-patient relationship with a patient, they have an obligation to provide reasonable and competent medical care to the patient. If a doctor and patient have no established relationship, meaning the patient has not agreed to hire the doctor or the doctor has not agreed to be hired by the patient, no duty exists.
An example of when the duty of care may come into question is in the event that a consulting physician who did not directly provide treatment to the patient is brought into the picture. Similarly, a doctor overheard providing medical advice at a party cannot be sued for medical malpractice.
Duty of care can be proven and established by collecting medical records that show the existence of such a relationship.
2. Deviation from the Standard of Care
After duty of care is established, the healthcare provider has an obligation to provide a reasonable and competent standard of care to the patient. If a doctor deviates from the accepted medical standards of care, she is in breach of this duty.
If it is proven that a medical professional did not provide treatment with the same care, skill, and attention as a comparably experienced medical professional within the same industry would have under the same circumstances, medical negligence comes into play. Some examples of medical negligence include:
- Failure to diagnose or delay treatment
- Misdiagnosis of a patient
- Leaving surgical tools inside a patient
- Operating on the wrong surgical site
- Providing incorrect doses of anesthesia
Proving the existence of medical negligence is done with expert witness testimonies, which are required in all medical malpractice cases in Florida. Your lawyer will need to prove that the treatment received was out of the ordinary and a reasonable doctor of the same caliber would not have done the same thing.
3. Direct Cause of Injury
The plaintiff must then show that the action or inaction (the deviation) of the medical professional directly resulted in her injury. For example, if the patient gets an infection as a result of a surgical sponge left inside her, the med mal lawyer and plaintiff will need to prove that the infection was a direct result of the sponge.
While proving causation may be easier in some cases, proving the direct cause of an injury can be extremely difficult. For instance, when a person dies as a result of cancer treatment surgery, medical negligence is more difficult to prove. Similarly, after a failed knee replacement, it may not be the fault of the doctor if the patient has failed to take the doctor’s post-operation advice.
Having a medical malpractice lawyer on your side to help you prove direct causation is pertinent to your med mal case.
Lastly, damages must exist as a result of the injury. Damages can be physical, emotional, mental, and financial. Some examples of damages sustained in medical malpractice cases include:
- Medical expenses
- Physical therapy
- Homehealth services
- Household services, like cleaning, lawn maintenance
- Home renovations related to your injury
- Emotional trauma
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Pain and suffering
- Severe physical pain
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
A medical malpractice lawyer can help you recover some of these expenses as a legal remedy. Evidence collected might include medical records, prescriptions, expert statements from medical providers, medical bills, and any other documentation needed for your case.
Who’s Liable in a Medical Malpractice Case?
Doctors and hospitals aren’t the only liable parties in medical malpractice cases. Other healthcare providers can be held liable for medical negligence, including nurses, dentists, pharmaceutical companies, pharmacists, anesthesiologists, and other medical professionals.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you believe your case meets the 4-D requirement, contact our med mal lawyers today. We’ll sit down with you to review the specific facts of your case and determine recommended next steps. Medical malpractice suits are complex with specific procedural requirements, strict timelines, and the requirement of specific legal skills and experience. Consulting a med mal attorney is the recommended first step to your financial and physical recovery.
The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not decide whether or not to contact an attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed, nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.