"A physician commits malpractice by not exercising that degree of skill and learning that is ordinarily possessed and exercised by members of the profession in good standing acting in the same or similar circumstances." Durham v. Vinson, 360 S.C. 639 (2004). A plaintiff must proffer expert testimony to prove both the required standard of care and the defendant's failure to conform to that standard, unless the subject matter lies within the ambit of common knowledge so that no special learning is required to evaluate the conduct of the defendants. For medical malpractice cases in arising on or after July 1, 2005, S.C. Code ? 15-36-100(b) provides that a plaintiff must file as part of the complaint an affidavit of an expert witness which must specify at least one negligent act or omission claimed to exist and the factual basis for each claim based on the available evidence at the time of the filing of the affidavit, but it may be filed after the complaint in some circumstances.
Informed Consent Claim
A physician's failure to obtain a patient's "informed consent" with regard to a procedure or treatment is a form of medical malpractice. The term "informed consent" means that a physician must tell a patient all of the potential benefits, risks, and alternatives involved in any surgical procedure, diagnostic procedure, medical procedure, therapeutic procedure, or other course of treatment, and must obtain the patient's written consent to proceed. Under Informed consent law, a physician who performs a diagnostic, therapeutic, or surgical procedure has a duty to disclose to a patient of sound mind, in the absence of an emergency that warrants immediate medical treatment, (1) the diagnosis, (2) the general nature of the contemplated procedure, (3) the material risks involved in the procedure, (4) the probability of success associated with the procedure, (5) the prognosis if the procedure is not out, and (6) the existence of any alternatives to the procedure.
Breach of Contract or Warranty Claim
While most health care providers will not guarantee or warrant a particular outcome, there are times when they do, and a failure to successfully provide the outcome may give rise to a breach of contract or breach of warranty claim. These type cases usually involve plastic surgery wherein the patient is told that his or her post-surgery physical appearance will be the same as demonstrated on a computerized enhancement of the patient's photograph.
Compensation in Medical Malpractice Cases
In a medical malpractice personal injury lawsuit, a victim seeks compensation for the injury or injuries he or she has suffered. Compensation can include past and future medical expenses, disability or deformity, loss of income, emotional and mental anguish, loss of a spouse's comfort and society, past and future pain and suffering, and an amount which would be necessary to make the person whole as respects a permanent personal injury. McNeil v. United States, 519 F.Supp. 283 (D.S.C. 1981). In cases where the defendant acted recklessly, maliciously or willfully, punitive damages may also be awarded. Punitive damages in medical malpractice lawsuits are intended to punish the responsible party and deter others from committing the same acts. Gamble v. Stevenson, 305 S.C. 104, 406 S.E.2d 350 (1991). If a wrongful death results from the medical malpractice, the decedent's beneficiaries are entitled to compensation. (C) Joseph P. Griffith, Jr. 2010