When we are sick, stricken with disease or facing an emergency, we rely on doctors and hospitals to heal us. Most of the time, they do heal us, and in so doing, they provide society with an invaluable service. Nine times out of ten we owe them our lives and a whole lot of gratitude. However, doctors and surgeons are humans, too, and are thus susceptible to the same things we all face: bad days, forgetfulness and even malice.
When we succumb to these failings, no one gets hurt in any serious way. Unfortunately, when doctors do, lives can hang in the balance. That's why we hold them to a certain standard of care. When they fail to live up to this standard of care, and someone gets hurt, the victim or their family can file a medical malpractice or wrongful death lawsuit in order to recover compensation.
So how do you prove that a doctor or surgical team was negligent in treating a patient? There are four factors:
- The doctor owed the patient a duty. This is established in the normal doctor/patient relationship.
- The doctor failed that duty by not living up to a standard of care.
- The patient is injured in some way.
- The doctor's breach of that standard of care was connected to the injury received by the patient.
If you can check off all four of these legal tests, you may have a case for medical malpractice. Of course, proving these things in court is an entirely different matter. For that, an attorney who's well-versed in medical malpractice cases can be an invaluable resource.