Basic Elements of a Medical Malpractice Case

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If you are sick, injured or need medical care for conditions ranging from pregnancy to muscle spasms, you seek the advice and treatment of physicians, nurses, hospitals, clinics and a number of people and institutions we all trust to do the right thing.

What happens when that trust is broken? When, through negligence, those who are supposed to “do no harm” in fact, harm us?

What is the “Duty of Care?”

Most of the harm done in these cases is not intentional, but the fact remains that medical professionals have a duty of care to their patients.

This means that when a medical professional (a doctor, for instance) and a patient have established a relationship, it is expected that the medical professional owes his or her patient the care, skill and diligence that would be reasonably expected of a competent medical professional under the same or similar circumstances.

What Happens When the Duty of Care is not met?

A physician or other medical professional may have breached (failed to meet) duty of care through negligence.

Negligence is harm caused by a deviation from accepted standards under the duty of care and is a way of assessing fault.

In cases of negligence on the part of a medical professional and, often, a hospital or clinic under whom that professional worked, a claim of medical malpractice may be filed.

Is the Failure to Fulfill a Duty of Care the Cause of an Injury?

There is no guarantee that every treatment, surgery or a course of medications will be successful. Likewise, not every failed medical procedure that results in injury is the result of a breach of duty of care.

Proving that damage or injury was caused by negligence—called causation—isn’t always easy.

Some things are obvious: for instance, a clamp left in a patient after surgery.

Other times, even though there was clear-cut negligence, it did not result in an injury. It must be proven that the medical professional, through negligence, caused an injury because he or she was not within the norms of accepted standards of care.

How is the Fact that Injury was Caused by Medical Malpractice Established?

Expert witnesses are often called upon (by both sides) to prove or disprove that an injury was caused by the negligence of a medical professional.

Typically, those experts practice the same type of medicine as the physician who is being sued.

However, it is often the case that an injured party (the plaintiff) isn’t sure what caused the injury, but that the injury is the type that could only have been caused by negligence.

Rea ipsa loquitor is Latin for “the thing speaks for itself.”

It makes the medical professional (defendant) responsible for proving that they were not negligent.

The plaintiff must still be able to show, among other things, that they cannot obtain evidence of the actual cause of the injury and that it is not the type of injury normally associated with negligence.

Contact a Knowledgeable Yonkers Medical Malpractice Attorney

Whether you live in Westchester, Rockland, Bronx, Dutchess, Putnam, Orange, or Ulster counties, the skilled New York medical malpractice lawyers of Sayegh & Sayegh can help you seek fair compensation when you suffer injury caused by a failure to meet the duty of care.

Contact us today at (914) 968-5800.