Three Major Points to Prove a Medical Malpractice Case

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional commits an act of negligence that causes serious harm to a patient. If you were injured due to a medical provider’s negligence, you may have the right to file a lawsuit against him or her in Missouri civil court. Through this claim, you can recover monetary damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. However, you will need to prove three major elements to establish your right to compensation.

Duty

The first element you will need to prove in your malpractice claim is the at-fault provider’s professional duty. You must show that the provider owed you a duty of care at the time of the malpractice. This element is relatively simple to prove since all medical professionals have a duty to provide an industry-accepted standard of care while treating patients in a formal capacity. You can use your medical records that list the at-fault party’s name to establish this fact.

If the at-fault party did not treat you in a formal capacity, however, you will not be able to prove this element. For example, if you asked a physician friend for medical advice while you were at a party, he or she does not owe you a duty of care in that situation and will not be liable for any injuries you sustain. If you visited this same friend for an appointment at his or her clinic, he or she does owe a duty of care.

Breach of Duty

After you establish duty of care, you will need to prove that the at-fault medical professional breached his or her duty of care through a negligent act or failure to act. Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider deviates from the industry’s standard of care or acts in a way that a similarly trained and reasonably prudent professional would not have done under the same circumstances. Missouri requires you to submit an Affidavit of Qualified Health Care Provider prior to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit to attest to this fact.

For example, say that you visit an emergency room with hallmark symptoms of a heart attack: shortness of breath, pain in the chest, and lightheadedness. The emergency room doctor fails to order the proper tests to diagnose your condition and instead claims that you are having an anxiety attack. When you file your medical malpractice claim, your attorney can use your medical records and enlist the help of an expert witness who can testify about what he or she would have done under the same circumstances.

Causation

After you prove that the at-fault medical provider breached his or her duty of care, you will need to prove that the breach of duty caused your injuries. In the misdiagnosed heart attack scenario, for example, say that you leave the emergency room after the initial diagnosis and later collapse at home. After you receive emergency treatment at the hospital, you learn that you sustained permanent brain damage due to oxygen deprivation.

The expert witness can then review your medical records and determine whether or not you would have suffered this injury if the doctor diagnosed you correctly at your initial visit. If the expert witness determines that an accurate diagnosis could have prevented the prolonged oxygen deprivation, you can establish causation.

If you have experienced medical malpractice, an attorney can provide you with the resources, experience, and skills necessary to hold the negligent healthcare professional accountable. Speak to a Kansas City medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your path to recovery.