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Medical Malpractice Claims 101: Types and Requirements

Medical malpractice claims are filed to compensate for the losses of a patient when he/she is harmed by a hospital, doctor, or another medical professional by an act of negligence or omission. Although state-specific rules for medical malpractice might vary, some certain common principles and rules can be applied to various malpractice cases.

How to prove medical malpractice?

There are four things that an attorney has to prove to show that medical malpractice existed:

  • A physician-patient relationship: An attorney dealing with a medical malpractice case must prove that a physician-patient relationship existed. This implies that the affected patient hired the physician and the physician also provided his consent to treat the patient.
  • The negligence of the doctor: The attorney should present a medical expert to discuss the standard medical care that should have been offered. One simply cannot file a medical malpractice case because the result of the treatment was different, or they were personally unhappy. The doctor must have been careless in your treatment or diagnosis. Simply put the doctor should have caused you to harm in a way that a competent doctor in the same circumstances would not have.
  • Relativity between negligence and injury: Medical malpractice cases can be complicated as it involves patients who were sick already. Therefore, the medical expert being presented should be able to provide enough evidence that the injury was more likely caused due to the doctor’s negligence and not any other external reasons or pre-existing conditions.
  • The harm caused due to the injury: A medical malpractice case cannot be filed unless the patient has suffered due to the damages that were a result of the negligence. Hence the attorney needs to prove that the patient has gone through harm such as physical pain, mental distress, and economic crisis.

Types of Medical Malpractice:

There are multiple types of medical malpractice cases that can be filed for various instances. It can vary from an anesthetic overdose to a surgeon forgetting a towel inside of the body cavity. But all kinds of negligence can be categorized into one of the three broad categories below:

  • Failure to diagnose: There might be a viable medical malpractice claim if another doctor with similar expertise would have diagnosed the illness differently thereby, giving a different output than the one received.
  • Improper treatment: If the patient’s condition was mishandled by the medical professionals which may involve incorrect treatment for the illness, treatments involving unnecessary risks, or unapproved procedures as a treatment option, it can probably become a medical malpractice case.
  • Absence of notification of known risks: Doctors are liable to follow the duty of known consent i.e. briefing a patient of the possible risks they are susceptible to while undergoing a procedure. The doctor may be liable to a medical malpractice claim if the patient opts out due to the risk and they are injured during the procedure in a way that the doctor could have warned.

Special Requirement:

Medical malpractice claims consist of certain special requirements that may vary between states. Here are few that are inevitable:

  • Reporting time: The reporting time for a medical malpractice case can be anywhere between 6 months to 2 years. The clock starts ticking either after the injury occurred or after the patient discovered it depending on the state. If the case is reported after the period mentioned, it will be dismissed despite the facts.
  • Expert Testimony: The patient has to present a medical expert who is generally an expert in the field in which the issue has occurred. The expert opinion, in most cases, is the turning point.

Dealing with medical malpractice cases can be very challenging for attorneys. These are a few basic requirements that can save a lot of your time if done correctly.

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