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Requirements for Proving Medical Malpractice

Posted by attorney Brenton Adams

Proving medical malpractice can be difficult. Victims have to consider the time and cost of pursuing this type of case. The state of North Carolina is no stranger to malpractice. According to State Health Facts, in 2011 there were 142 claims paid, totaling $44,981,000.

It’s hard to know how many more were unsuccessful due to a lack of evidence. Having ample documentation will be critical if you hope to win this type of case.

Proving Medical Malpractice

Although injuries stemming from negligence of a doctor or another healthcare provider might have occurred, it doesn’t necessarily warrant filing a claim. Medical malpractice cases require a lot of work with investigations, evidence collection and other preparations.

There are certain elements that must be established in proving medical malpractice. The first is that significant injuries or illnesses were sustained.

A doctor can make a mistake, but if it doesn’t result in harm, there is no case. The point of seeking legal action is to recover damages for losses incurred. These will only exist if someone was injured.

Even then, because illness or injuries could be the result of a medical condition and not negligence, you will need to establish the second element. You must connect the illness or injuries directly to an act of carelessness or recklessness on behalf of a healthcare provider, such as a doctor.

Types of Medical Malpractice

There are many types of medical malpractice. One example is a failure to provide informed consent. In other words, the physician’s obligation to tell a patient about risks, benefits and alternatives of a medical procedure or treatment wasn’t done.

If a patient were to undergo a surgical procedure and suffered complications, which the doctor knew and didn't discuss, he or she might not have consented to the operation or might have chosen another less invasive option. Another type of medical malpractice relates to diagnosing a medical condition.

Doctors may be liable if the following actions cause severe or life-threatening injuries:

· failure to diagnose;

· misdiagnosis; or

· giving a delayed diagnosis.

Proving medical malpractice in this type of case would require showing that the doctor’s actions (or lack thereof) were unreasonable, and as a result, caused a patient to suffer harm. For instance, symptoms of a heart attack would lead most doctors to order tests. If a doctor didn’t take the time to rule out a heart attack and wrote it off as being heartburn or something else, this would likely be considered unreasonable.

Other types of malpractice include prescribing the wrong medication, incorrectly using a medical device and failing to monitor a patient. The circumstances surrounding each case will vary.

With so many complex elements of medical malpractice cases, it is usually a good idea to speak with a personal injury attorney in Raleigh, NC. He or she can explain the process of pursuing this type of claim and the types of evidence that will be necessary in proving medical malpractice.

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