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How do you prove fault in a medical malpractice case?

A patient can sue a doctor for medical malpractice if the doctor’s conduct harms him or her.  The patient must however prove that the physician in question did not meet the industry “standard of care."

The standard of care is how the law gets around two opposing issues. Doctors cannot be reasonably expected to always get things right. They are human and the law recognizes that fact. However, most people reasonably expect that when they consult a trained professional, the professional will exercise a certain level of proficiency when rendering their services.

The patient may prove medical malpractice, or a breach of standard of care, using various methods. Demonstrating negligence is the most common way of proving medical malpractice. According to FindLaw, there are usually four main components to negligence cases. These four instances include:

  • The duty owed,
  • The relevant standard of care and how it was breached,
  • Harm to the patient
  • The link between the breach and harm to the patient.

The doctor has a duty to use his skills as best he can to treat his patients. Establishing the relevant standard of care is a little trickier though. The general norms of the medical industry determine where this standard lies. The plaintiff will need expert testimony as a result. The expert must attest to what the standard is. He or she must also show that the defendant failed to meet it.

The expert must work in the same profession as the defendant and be recognized as qualified to practice for his or her testimony to stand in court. Negligence extends beyond the direct treatment of patients.

A doctor can be liable for prescribing the wrong medication or failing to seek a patient’s permission before performing a procedure. It is important to understand this information is general and should not be taken as specific legal advice; however, a Louisiana attorney may help you weigh your options.

Source: Findlaw.com, “Proving Fault in Medical Malpractice Cases,” accessed August 7, 2014

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