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What does it take to file a medical malpractice case?

Medical professionals are a core part of society, and we count on their skill and expertise to keep us healthy and to find and fix various medical ailments. In many cases these professionals are able to accomplish just that. In others, they fall short. When that happens, the patient and/or their family needs to ask an important question:

Did the medical professional exercise the required duty of care while treating the patient, or was their performance somehow negligent, resulting in injury, illness, or death?

If there is a direct tie between the patient's further medical decline and the doctor or other professional's performance, there is a possibility that a medical malpractice case could be filed an won with the help of a Texas attorney.

Proving a lack of duty of care

"Duty of care" describes the general standard that physicians and other medical professionals must follow when they are treating patients.

There may be times that even a person of limited knowledge may be able to see mistakes and oversights made by a physician or other medical staff. In other cases, it's not easy to determine if an error was made.

In either scenario, the court requires that a witness be called who has similar knowledge in the field and who can look at the information the treating physician had and testify as to whether or not they proceeded appropriately, or whether they missed important information due to their negligence.

Ultimately, the person filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is trying to prove medical negligence, and to do this they must show:

  • The patient was injured or experienced a decline in their health
  • A relationship that should qualify the medical professional to have a duty of care with the patient
  • What the standard of care should be, and how the medical professional failed to meet that standard
  • A connection between the patient's injury or decline, and the medical professional's failure to meet it

Keeping a patient informed

Medical professionals make a lot of tough calls as they treat their patients, and even though the patients themselves normally are not experts, they have the right to participate in the decisions made regarding their care.

Before a medication is prescribed, or a surgical or other treatment begins, the patient should be told of the potential risks as well as the expected benefits of the treatment. Failing to give the patient an opportunity to provide informed consent is another way a professional may have committed medical malpractice.

Dealing with the unknown

In come cases patients, and even many doctors, are not able to determine exactly why the patient experience an injury or medical decline after being treated by their physician or other medical professionals. They only know if everything was done correctly, the patient would not be experiencing illness or discomfort.

In these cases a legal doctrine, "Res Ipsa Loquitur," may be invoked, which means "thing that speaks for itself."

Ultimately, the only way to know if medical malpractice occurred is to speak with an experienced attorney who can study the facts surrounding your case and determine if you have a legal claim.

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