When receiving medical care, patients trust that healthcare professionals will prioritize their health and well-being.
However, what happens when a physician or healthcare provider acts negligently and causes harm?
From misdiagnosis to surgical errors and medication mistakes, it’s crucial to recognize the signs of medical malpractice.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and surgeons, engage in wrongdoing or negligence that harms a patient. This can include errors in diagnosis, treatment, or overall health management.
However, experiencing a poor health outcome as a patient does not automatically indicate you suffered due to medical malpractice. In Texas, medical malpractice is defined as the violation of a duty of care by a healthcare provider.
To have a valid medical malpractice case, you must prove that a physician was negligent in your healthcare.
How common is medical malpractice?
Did you know that by the age of 65, about 75% of physicians in low-risk specialties are likely to have faced a malpractice claim? This number rises to a staggering 99% for physicians in high-risk specialties.
Unfortunately, medical malpractice is a common occurrence in the United States. Every year, thousands of patients suffer injuries and illnesses due to medical malpractice. Texas is among the top states for these kinds of claims.
A medical malpractice claim allows you to recover the full value of your injury when you suffer harm and losses due to a healthcare professional’s negligence.
If you notice any signs of medical malpractice, here’s what you know about pursuing a civil claim against the responsible medical professional or hospital.
What types of professionals are most often involved in medical malpractice cases?
Medical professionals from various fields can potentially face a medical malpractice claim if they fail to provide the level of care expected from a competent healthcare professional in similar circumstances.
Among the different types of healthcare professionals, physicians specializing in stroke care face a higher risk of having a claim filed against them. The nature of their work, which involves time-sensitive and complex decision-making, increases the potential for serious patient injury.
What kinds of medical malpractice claims exist?
Common medical malpractice claims filed against physicians include:
- Failure to recognize symptoms
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnoses
- Failure to warn of known health risks
- Hospital infections
- Birth injuries
- Surgical mistakes, such as wrong-site or unnecessary surgery
- Anesthesia errors
- Medication or dosage errors
- Lack of informed consent
- Breach of doctor-patient confidentiality
What are the elements of a medical malpractice claim?
Once the potentially responsible party is identified, the law is used to determine if a medical provider can be held legally liable for their actions.
In legal terms, “negligence” refers to behavior that doesn’t meet an expected standard. The commonly used standard in tort law is the “reasonable person” standard.
This standard is a theoretical concept that sets a benchmark for how a person should behave in similar circumstances to prevent harm to others. It helps assess if someone has acted in a way that could have reasonably avoided foreseeable risks of harm.
To successfully file a medical malpractice claim, an injured patient must prove:
- Duty of care: The healthcare professional must have owed a legal duty to the patient as part of the doctor/patient relationship to provide care or treatment.
- Breach of duty: The healthcare professional must have deviated from and failed to uphold the accepted standard of care of the profession, breaching the duty owed to the patient.
- Causation: The patient must have suffered a personal injury, and it must be proven that the healthcare professional’s breach of care caused the patient’s injury.
- Damages: There must be damages that result from the injury, such as medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, in order for the legal system to provide redress for the harm a patient experienced.
How can a personal injury attorney help prove medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a complex area of law with many rules and regulations, particularly in Texas. In most cases, plaintiffs require the assistance of attorneys to substantiate their claims.
Learning how attorneys prove medical malpractice is crucial in understanding the legal process of holding negligent doctors and nurses accountable for their actions. It enables you to make informed legal decisions and also assists in selecting a suitable medical malpractice lawyer.
Proving medical malpractice involves several important steps, such as extensive discovery to collect evidence and negotiations to resolve a dispute without a jury trial. These stages of the legal process are best handled by experienced Texas personal injury attorneys.
A skilled medical malpractice lawyer will establish that the patient consented to treatment, that the doctor owed a duty of care towards the patient, and that the doctor failed to fulfill this duty and acted negligently during the provision of care, resulting in physical injury and subsequent damages.
Evidence, such as eyewitness testimonies, expert opinions, and medical records, may be necessary to build a strong case. Other doctors can serve as expert witnesses, evaluating the actions or mistakes made by the doctor in question and providing testimony regarding whether they breached their duty of care or not.
What is the full value of your injury in a medical malpractice case?
When a patient successfully proves the elements of medical negligence, they may be entitled to receive both economic and non-economic damages as compensation.
Economic damages, which are relatively easy to quantify, include expenses like medical bills and lost wages. On the other hand, non-economic damages, such as the loss of a limb or pain and suffering, are more challenging to determine in terms of monetary value.
In cases where the doctor’s breach of duty was particularly negligent or malicious, punitive damages may also be awarded.
The process of proving malpractice varies slightly depending on the specific circumstances of each case. Gaining a deeper understanding of medical malpractice and enlisting the services of an experienced lawyer can help you recognize instances of malpractice and pursue legal action against the responsible party.
If you have suffered an injury or illness due to medical negligence, it is crucial to hire an attorney who specializes in handling cases similar to yours.