The basis of a medical malpractice claim stems from the negligence of a medical practitioner inflicted upon another person whom a duty of care was owed. This may sound like a lot of legalese to a Pennsylvanian who is wondering if their doctor may have made a mistake in the administration of their care. The remainder of this post will break down the elements of a medical malpractice claim and will discuss how a person may pursue a medical malpractice claim in the civil courts.
First, it is generally required that a medical practitioner and a patient have a relationship established before a claim of malpractice may arise. Once a doctor takes a patient under their care, a doctor-patient relationship is formed. This is sufficient to meet the first requirement of a medical malpractice claim, as it establishes a duty of care between the parties.
Second, after the relationship is formed, a medical malpractice claim must prove that the medical practitioner breached their duty to their patient in some way. This usually happens when the medical professional fails to meet the expected standard of care that someone in their profession would generally exhibit given the conditions of the patient. It may occur in a number of ways, including if the medical practitioner fails to diagnose the patient or incorrectly operates on them through a preventable surgical mistake.
Third, after the medical practitioner breaches their duty, a medical malpractice claim must demonstrate that the patient suffered some harm. Oftentimes, cases of medical malpractice lead to worsened medical conditions in patients. The specific harm caused can vary from case-to-case.
Finally, a patient who is harmed must be able to show that their losses were attributable to the medical professional's actions and not a secondary cause. This legal element, in conjunction with the other elements of medical malpractice discussed above, can be challenging to prove. This is why it is critical that medical malpractice victims put forth the best case they can given the circumstances. Oftentimes, a skilled legal professional can help with this process.