General principles the Joyner Law Firm, P.C. considers in a medical malpractice case.

If a doctor or other paramedical professional harms a patient by failing to perform their medical duties competently it is considered medical malpractice.

To prove medical malpractice has occurred all of the following must be shown.

The doctor-patient relationship existed.

The patient must show that they had a doctor-patient relationship with the doctor being sued. That means the patient hired the doctor and that the doctor agreed to be hired. If the doctor began treating you and seeing you it will be easy to prove an existing doctor-patient relationship.

A doctor was negligent.

Although you may have been unhappy with the results of your treatment it does not mean that the doctor would be liable for medical malpractice.
  • The doctor has to have committed negligence in your diagnosis or treatment. You have to be able to show the doctor harmed you in a manner that a competent doctor would not have under the same circumstances.
  • The doctor does not have to be the “best possible” but he or she must be reasonably skillful and careful. Usually the patient has to present a medical expert who will discuss the appropriate standard of care and show how the defendant did not live up to that standard.

Proof that the doctor’s negligence was the cause of the injury.

There are many malpractice cases which involve patients who were already sick or injured so there is frequently a question of whether or not what the doctor did actually cause the harm. As an example, if a patient was treated for lung cancer and died, and the doctor did something negligent, it might be hard to prove the doctor’s negligence was the cause of the death instead of the cancer. The patient has to prove it is more likely than not that incompetence directly caused the injury.

An injury led to specific damages.

Even though it is clear the doctor did perform below expected standards of the field, a patient cannot sue for malpractice if they did not suffer any harm. Some examples of the type of harm a patient can sue for are physical pain, mental anguish, lost earning capacity or work, and additional medical bills.

Some common types of medical practice are:

Failure to diagnose.

If a doctor who was competent could have discovered the illness or made some other diagnosis which would lead to an outcome better than the one that actually happened then there may be a case for a viable medical malpractice claim.

An improper treatment.

If the patient was treated in a manner no other competent doctor would, then the patient may have a medical malpractice claim. It could also be considered malpractice if a doctor would select the right treatment but administer it incompetently.

The failure to warn the patient of risks that are known.

A doctor has the duty to discuss known risks of a course of procedure or treatment. This is called the “duty of informed consent”. If the patient has been properly informed of risks and elected not to have the procedure the doctor could be liable for malpractice if the result injures patient in a way the doctor should’ve warned.