Put simply, medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider departs from the generally accepted standard of care and injures a patient. At our firm, we have met with many people who have been injured by careless doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, dentists, or other health care professionals. It isn’t always clear that you have a medical malpractice case, so read on for more information.
Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical professionals can make many errors that harm patients, including:
- Discharging someone too early
- Failing to properly diagnose a condition or offering a wrong diagnosis
- Neglecting to follow up with a patient
- Ordering unnecessary surgery
- Performing surgery poorly
- Prescribing the wrong medication or the wrong dosage
- Failing to disclose possible complications
To qualify as malpractice, the doctor must have failed to use the same skills as other members of the profession. This does not mean a doctor or other professional must be perfect. But they must exhibit a certain level of competency. For example, if you go to the doctor and present symptoms of a burst appendix, then a doctor should correctly diagnose it if other doctors would have.
What Malpractice Isn’t
There is some confusion about what a malpractice case is. You don’t always have a medical malpractice case because you are unhappy with the outcome.
- It isn’t necessarily malpractice if a loved one dies. The question is whether the doctor followed the standard of care when treating your loved one. The sad fact is that some people cannot be saved.
- It isn’t necessarily malpractice if you feel pain. Pain might be unavoidable. A competent doctor will try to manage it.
- It isn’t necessarily malpractice if you feel worse than you did before.
Instead, the key is always whether the defendant treated you as a competent doctor would. It is perfectly normal if you don’t know whether your doctor was sufficiently competent.
Elements of a Medical Malpractice Case
To bring a successful case in court, you need to establish the 4 elements of a medical malpractice claim:
- Duty. This is the easiest. The defendant must have had a duty to treat you. If you are a patient of a doctor or other medical professional, you have established duty.
- Breach. The defendant must have followed the accepted standard of care. If he or she didn’t, then the defendant breached the standard of care.
- Damages. You must have suffered some economic and non-economic injury. For example, needing corrective surgery or additional health care to get well qualifies. If you weren’t injured, then the doctor’s mistake does not support a lawsuit.
- Causation. The defendant’s breach of the accepted standard of care must have caused your injuries.
For help establishing these elements, you will probably need an expert witness. This person can analyze whether the defendant’s conduct met the standard of care and whether the conduct caused your injuries.
Reach Out to Us Today
Cimarron Ridge Legal Group has represented injured patients in many malpractice suits. We can help you pull together a strong case for compensation and handle the administrative prerequisites to filing a suit in court.
Contact one of our Grand Junction medical malpractice lawyers today for a free consultation.