How to Prove Medical Negligence
Patients who suffer harm as a result of negligent medical care have the right to hold the responsible health care providers accountable by pursuing a medical malpractice case. These civil lawsuits allow victims to demonstrate that their injuries could and should have been prevented if not for medical negligence, and to recover financial compensation for the damages they incurred, including any associated medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering, among other damages.
At Shook & Stone, our Las Vegas medical malpractice attorneys have helped many clients throughout Nevada following injuries and illnesses sustained as the result of substandard care provided by doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. While cases may involve various causes of injury – including misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, and more – they all focus on medical negligence.
Because there are inherent risks associated with medical treatment, and because doctors cannot treat all ailments or conditions or guarantee positive outcomes, medical malpractice can be a difficult claim to pursue – as well as a difficult legal concept to understand. By law, medical negligence occurs when:
- A medical professional fails in their duty to provide care in accordance to acceptable medical standards – and fails to provides care as a reasonably skillful medical professional would under the same or similar circumstances.
Based on this legal definition, it becomes clear that not all injuries sustained by patients constitutes malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs only when substandard care is provided in a situation where other medical professionals acting in accordance to established guidelines and standards would have acted differently. Examples of this may include a nurse who fails to monitor signs of fetal distress during delivery, as required per standards, which results in a preventable birth injury. It may also include a doctor who negligently releases a patient from the hospital, after which they suffer further injury, despite signs of complications that would require them to stay and remain monitored.
As there are a number of situations that may constitute medical negligence, our legal team evaluates cases thoroughly to determine if they meet all elements that must be established in a medical malpractice claim. These include:
- A duty of care existed – Medical professionals have a duty of care to provide treatment in accordance to accepted medical standards. This duty of care exists when a patient agrees to be treated by a medical professional or, under slightly different circumstances, when emergency care is provided in a hospital.
- Breach of duty – Medical professionals who fail to provide acceptable medical care breach their legal duty. This is generally the result of negligence – which means they failed to act as a reasonable medical professional would in a similar situation – but can also include acts of intentional harm.
- Causation – Medical malpractice claims must further prove that substandard care more likely than not caused the patient’s injuries. This element may require testimony from expert medical witnesses who can provide their opinion as to how negligence led to a preventable injury.
- The patient suffered damages – As a result of medical negligence and their injuries, the patient suffered actual damages (economic and non-economic), for which they should be compensated.
Due to the wide range of situations, various forms of negligence, complex medical information, and a duty of care that can vary depending on the treatment provided, medical malpractice cases are complex matters. As such, our legal team devotes a considerable amount of time to vetting potential cases – which is why we use a medical malpractice questionnaire – and to helping potential clients understand their rights and whether they have a valid case. When it appears medical negligence did cause preventable harm, we leverage our extensive experience and resources, including professional connections with medical experts, to pursue the full compensation our clients deserve.
Learn more about medical negligence and how it may apply to your potential malpractice case. Contact us for a free consultation.