Attorney Kenneth R. Fiedler
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Elements needed for medical malpractice cases

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice ranks third as the top cause of preventable deaths in the United States. Medical malpractice in Denver, Colorado, occurs when the doctor does not follow a basic level of care. Patients harmed by the negligence of a medical professional may sue for damages, but the case must meet requirements.

Elements needed for a medical malpractice case

Medical malpractice cases commonly fall under tort law, which offers a private solution to civil wrongs not related to criminal actions. A duty of care is a required element, which means the patient chose this doctor to treat them, and the doctor agreed.

A patient/doctor relationship must have existed, which the plaintiff may prove with patient records. A patient/doctor relationship may include agreeing to care for another doctor’s patients or agreeing to assist patients in an emergency off-duty.

The third element that must be present is causation, meaning the doctor breached their duty, causing harm. However, the breach of duty must have caused actual harm and not because a patient is dissatisfied with a result. Even when a doctor makes an error, if the patient suffered no actual harm, they may not have a case.

Emergency room malpractice

Since ERs are a hurried and chaotic environment, it raises the risk of misdiagnosis and other errors. The same elements needed for a standard doctor’s malpractice case apply to ER personnel, but they could get some leniency.

Sometimes, there is no time to make an accurate diagnosis, and the staff doesn’t have access to patient records. In these cases, it isn’t uncommon for ERs to conduct fewer tests, recommend a specialist, and send patients home with medication. In some states, first responders, such as ambulance crews, may get immunity, unless they acted recklessly.

Medical malpractice cases often require expert testimony to prove causation and standard of care. Some medical professionals may offer the patient a settlement, but other cases need litigation.