When you go to a hospital, you only expect to come out better than you left. And in case an injury or illness gets worse, the last thing you’d expect is the doctor or hospital at large causing it.
Unfortunately, cases of medical malpractice are common in healthcare settings, making up 10 percent of all annual deaths in our country.
Many victims are unable to identify medical malpractice when it happens, which makes it critical to seek the legal counsel of an attorney. Insurance companies are also usually too quick to offer initial lowball settlements to such victims before they realize the real value of their claims.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of the most important aspect of proving medical malpractice and why it might be important to seek the services of a medical malpractice law firm.
How to Prove Medical Malpractice
Establishing a Duty of Care
By default, every physician or healthcare specialist is required to provide medical care and treatment that will cause no harm to the patient. The law has established a ‘standard or care’ every doctor should follow when treating a particular injury or illness.
To prove this, your state’s laws might require a statement from an expert witness, such as a physician in the same capacity, to determine the expected standard of care in your case.
Breaching the Duty of Care
The next thing will be to prove the physician you are suing failed to follow an outlined standard of care when attending to you. This is known as breaching a duty of care.
In other words, the doctor deviated from the normal care that a similarly educated and trained personnel would provide. This can occur in numerous ways, including:
- Operating on the wrong body part
- Performing an unnecessary surgery
- Providing insufficient information when prescribing drugs
- Incorrect dosages
- Discharging before full recovery
- And many others.
There are many other ways medical errors and malpractice can occur. If you suspect you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice, speak with an attorney to determine if you have a case worth compensation.
Causation entails showing the substandard care provided as the source of your injuries. In some states, including Kentucky, the law only requires a plaintiff to prove the care in question was a significant factor in causing the injuries.
Similarly, the court or insurance company will rely on an expert witness to confirm the physician’s medical errors resulted in your injuries.
Proof of Damages
Finally, the insurer will require proof of damages. Here, you’ll show the medical malpractice has affected your life and those of your loved ones. Common forms of damages in medical malpractice claims include:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost income
- Pain and emotional distress
- Decreased quality of life
In some cases, especially those with significant damages, the court may also award punitive damages to punish the defendant and prevent anyone else from committing the same mistake.
Consult with a medical malpractice attorney to see if your case is eligible for punitive damages as well.
The Issue of Informed Consent
Another popular form of medical malpractice is failing to obtain informed consent from a patient.
When a particular procedure or medication is required for your treatment, the physician is supposed to discuss the treatment with you in detail and get your approval before commencing. This includes a detailed description of the procedure, potential side effects, expected results, and how you stand to gain.
If your doctor failed to obtain informed consent for a procedure, you might have grounds for compensation.