While it would be nice to think that medical malpractice (med mal) was a thing of the past, the truth is it seems to be escalating.
Doctors are human beings and from a certain point of view, are also subject to making mistakes just like everyone else does. However, because they are doctors, they have a much higher standard of care to live up to because people rely on their judgment when it comes to diagnosing illness and recommending treatments.
Statistics on the number of med mal deaths across the U.S. tend to vary, but the most common figure seems to hover about the 100,000-person fatality mark. The frightening thing about that number is that less than half a percentage of those responsible for the deaths – doctors who have made errors – are called to justice for the mistakes. This is mind boggling, as one can only imagine the number of other personal injuries that go unchallenged because “The doctor said it was OK.”
Deviation from accepted medical standards by a healthcare provider is called medical malpractice, or medical negligence. Furthermore, such deviation may result in injuries or death. You should be aware that there is a fine line here between med mal and diagnostic errors. Diagnostic errors may or may not constitute negligence.
In order to be able to prove med mal in a court of law there are normally four things that have to be proven. The first criterion is that there was an actual duty that existed for the medical provider or hospital to offer appropriate care to a patient. The second criterion is that there was a failure in that duty to provide the appropriate care – “to the accepted standard.”
The phrase “to the accepted standard” is often one that means many different things to different medical expert witnesses in a med mal lawsuit. What is acceptable to one doctor may not be acceptable to another. In other words, this often may boil down to differences in opinion.
A perceived breach or deviation from a healthcare provider’s duties must be the direct cause of a patient’s injuries or death in order to launch a med mal lawsuit; and the damages being sought in court are specifically for the injury or death that was a consequence of malpractice/negligence. While this may sound fairly straightforward, the plaintiff, who carries the burden of proving all of the four points, is facing a significant struggle if there happens to be dueling expert medical witnesses called.
Having a competent and highly qualified med mal attorney to launch a med mal lawsuit isn’t just an option, it is a must have proposition. Without this kind of legal expertise at your disposal, you would not stand a chance in court. Only a thoroughly knowledgeable med mal attorney has the ability to marshal all the relevant evidence and present it in a compelling manner.
Robert Webb is an Atlanta personal injury lawyer with Webb & D’Orazio, a law firm specializing in Atlanta personal injury, malpractice, criminal defense, and business law. Learn more about Atlanta personal injury lawyer, Atlanta personal injury, Atlanta business law, Atlanta criminal defense at Webbdorazio.com.