Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional’s negligence causes harm to a patient. Preventable diagnoses errors, childbirth injuries, surgical mistakes, anesthesia problems, and medication gaffes are among the most common types of medical malpractice claims.
If you or someone you care about has been the victim of medical malpractice, you may pursue compensation for your damages and losses.
Proving your malpractice claim requires medically sound evidence. This makes expert witness testimony essential in these cases. Learn more about recognizing potential medical malpractice and steps to take next.
Understanding the Difference Between Unsatisfactory Service and Medical Malpractice
To prove malpractice in a court of law, four elements must exist:
- Duty: The provider had a duty or responsibility to you, like in the doctor-patient relationship.
- Dereliction: The provider acted negligently or strayed from the expected standard of care.
- Damage: You suffered harm.
- Direct cause: The provider’s action or inaction was the direct cause of the harm you suffered.
That’s the basic legal overview of malpractice. It can be difficult to fully understand without a background in law and malpractice suits. For many people, it’s easier to define medical malpractice when you understand what is not medical negligence.
Here are a few examples of what may be unsatisfactory care but is not necessarily medical malpractice:
- Rude physicians
- Unsuccessful treatment or a poor outcome
- Missed diagnosis
- Human error
- Adverse reactions to medications or treatments
It’s important to realize that alone, those problems are not enough to prove that your provider was guilty of negligence. Remember, all four legal elements must be present for a finding of medical malpractice.
Steps to Take When You Suspect Negligence or Malpractice
Whether it was malpractice or a justifiable error, trust in your healthcare provider disappears. However, you must continue receiving treatment for the medical issue that’s under scrutiny.
The first step to take when you suspect medical malpractice is to find a new doctor, right away. That way, you still get the vital care you need.
There is no potential conflict of interest in receiving treatment from a provider you may be suing. If the claim goes forward, you can attest to the fact that you did everything required to reduce damages or harm.
Next, ask for a copy of your medical records as well. You’ll avoid the possibility of anyone tampering with records and documentation after you file a claim. Be sure to take notes about what happened and the aftermath. This supports accuracy down the road.
Finally, retain an attorney. Choose someone with experience with your specific medical dilemma and a proven background in successfully litigating medical malpractice claims.
Medical expert witness services will be a critical part of proving your claim, so be sure to discuss this requirement with your attorney. A qualified lawyer understands the value of expert witness consultation and testimony.