When you are trying a medical malpractice case, the chances are good that you will need the advice and testimony of an expert medical witness to help you prepare your case and explain it to a judge and jury. In order to establish medical malpractice, you need to demonstrate that the following three conditions existed:
- A doctor/patient relationship existed between the parties.
- The care the doctor gave the patient was negligent.
- The negligent care resulted in an adverse outcome to the patient.
In a rare handful of cases, medical negligence will be obvious and indisputable and no explanation will be necessary. A good example of this kind of situation is when a surgeon leaves medical equipment inside a patient during the course of a procedure and neglects to remove it before closing up the patient. Judges and juries do not need any medical education or expertise to understand what went wrong and how the error affected the patient. These easy cases are few and far between, though, and most malpractice suits are much more complicated and nuanced, which is where reliable medical experts come in to help. Expert medical witnesses are licensed, experienced medical professionals who focus their lives on practicing medicine. These experts will help your case by assisting you in proving negligence and that the negligence resulted in harm to the patient. In the courtroom, they are able to explain the details of the case to the judge and jury and help them understand the details and facts of the case.
Standard of care is the measurement used to determine if a doctor was negligent in their duties to the patient. Medical standard of care is generally defined as the type and level of care that a reasonably capable and proficient health care professional, with a similar background and working in a similar community, would provide under similar circumstances. It is the care that a given patient would receive from an average, prudent medical professional. In order to prove negligence, you need to establish that the physician in question operated outside of the standard of care. The expert medical witness will help you zero in on the what the standard of care was for the situation and how the defendant deviated from that standard. Medicine is complicated and every case is different, so a reliable medical expert is critical to deciphering the facts of the case and understanding what really happened and where mistakes were made.
Once you establish the standard of care for the situation and discover where the caregiver deviated from that standard, you must prove that the deviation caused harm. Just because a medical practitioner chose to depart from accepted procedures does not necessarily mean that the injury the patient experienced was the result of that choice. An expert medical witness helps to connect the dots in the case; they draw distinct lines between actions and effects. Your witness will carefully review all the details of the case to determine what caused the injury to the patient and if negligence played any part.
If you are trying a medical malpractice suit, do not hesitate to hire a trusted medical expert to help you get the facts.