Proving medical negligence is the basis for a successful medical malpractice claim, but it’s also a major hurdle in many cases. Often, when a patient suffers injuries during medical treatment, it’s challenging to prove that negligence took place, show how serious the negligent behavior was, and establish the harm it caused.
Keep reading to learn about what defines medical negligence and find out how the expertise of a skilled and experienced attorney can make all the difference when filing a medical malpractice claim.
What Is Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence is any act under the direction of a medical professional that diverges from accepted standards of care. Acts that constitute medical negligence can include administering the wrong treatment, performing procedures or administering treatment incorrectly, or failing to provide treatment when it’s needed.
Common examples of behavior that might constitute medical negligence include:
- Making a wrong diagnosis or failing to provide a timely diagnosis
- Surgical errors, such as performing the wrong procedure or operating on the wrong body part
- Anesthesia mistakes, such as giving too much anesthetic or the wrong type
- Errors during childbirth that lead to injuries
Medical negligence can only lead to a valid malpractice claim and financial compensation if the provider’s actions (or failure to act) caused harm. If your doctor strayed from the accepted standard of care but you didn’t suffer any harm that directly resulted from their actions, the doctor may face professional discipline, but they can’t be held liable in civil court because there are no damages.
It’s important to understand that not all bad outcomes from medical treatment constitute medical negligence. The human body is extremely complex, and even the best doctors and medical professionals in the world can’t achieve positive outcomes every time. Some patients don’t respond to treatments, and complications can occur without warning. If you’ve suffered injuries from medical treatment, sorting out whether medical negligence played a role will take time, painstaking investigation, and expert witness testimony, among other requirements.
Proving Medical Negligence and Malpractice
There are several factors you will need to prove to file a successful medical malpractice claim, some of which are simpler than others. Those factors include:
- Doctor-Patient Relationship
By showing that your physician or other healthcare provider was administering care for your injury or illness, you and your lawyer can prove that they were responsible for conducting themselves according to accepted standards of care. Usually, this is simple to prove: if the physician provided care, either with or without an agreement or diagnosis, then they established a doctor-patient relationship.
- Proof of Negligence
As we discussed above, you and your attorney will need to prove medical negligence, which requires you to show that the healthcare professional deviated from accepted standards of care. In other words, the court will compare the provider’s conduct to the way that a reasonable, competent healthcare professional with similar training and experience would act in the same situation. (If the healthcare provider who injured you didn’t have enough training, experience, or resources to handle the situation properly, then that’s a different matter which could result in a negligence claim against the hospital or clinic that hired them or allowed them to provide care.)
Proving that a healthcare professional deviated from accepted standards of care will require other experts in the field to testify about what course of treatment they or their peers would have recommended had they been in your same position. Mistakes do happen, and not all providers will agree on a course of treatment, so your attorney will have to prove that your provider suggested and performed a course of treatment that no reasonable healthcare professional would have recommended based on your condition and the circumstances.
Like many highly technical fields, the medical field can be a small world behind the scenes, so it’s not easy to find expert witnesses who are willing to challenge a peer or colleague in a public forum. This is yet another reason why it’s critical to seek help from an experienced attorney for a medical malpractice claim.
- Harm Due to Negligence
If you’re able to prove that your healthcare provider committed an act of medical negligence, the next step is to show that this negligence led to an injury or otherwise made your condition worse. To accomplish this, you and your attorney will have to show that there were no underlying factors other than the provider’s care that could account for your condition worsening. Meanwhile, the defense attorneys will conduct a rigorous examination of your medical history and try to identify other factors besides negligence that could have contributed to your health problems.
Finally, you must prove that the harm you suffered led to damages that can be expressed in monetary terms, like current and expected future medical bills as well as lost wages. You also may be eligible to recover damages for physical and mental pain and suffering that resulted from a provider’s failure to follow accepted standards of care.
Keep in mind that even getting your medical malpractice claim ready for court requires a lot of work. Besides the exhaustive investigation, the work of securing and organizing piles and piles of medical bills and other evidence, and and the cost and time that go into securing expert testimony, your attorney will also have to present your case in front of a malpractice review board and get their approval to move forward. In some jurisdictions, you will also be required to file an affidavit of merit.
Fortunately, when you work with the experienced team of medical malpractice attorneys at Atkins & Markoff, we can handle all the details of developing and filing your claim and guide you through every step of the complex litigation process so you can focus on your physical and emotional recovery.
Contact Atkins & Markoff Today if You’ve Been Harmed by Medical Negligence in Oklahoma
At Atkins & Markoff, our attorneys and support staff have decades of experience successfully settling and litigating complex medical malpractice cases. If we’re able to take your case, we’ll always go the extra mile to get you the justice and compensation you deserve for your injuries and your pain and suffering. And our “no recovery, no fee” policy for personal injury claims means you’ll never pay attorney’s fees unless we win your case in court or secure a settlement on your behalf.
If you or someone you know has suffered because of a medical professional’s negligent behavior, please contact Atkins & Markoff and schedule your free, no-risk case evaluation by calling (405) 607-8757 or completing our quick and easy online contact form.
Bal, B. S. (2008, November 26). An introduction to medical malpractice in the United States. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, 467(2), 339–347. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2628513/#
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.