The challenge of proving medical malpractice

17th April 2012
By Samuel Langhorne in Medical Malpractice
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When you mention medical malpractice many people may think of stories about surgeons leaving scalpels in their patients' bellies or male doctors indecently touching their female patients. While such things may happen in hospitals, they are not fully illustrative of medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice occurs when hospitals, doctors and other medical professionals make mistakes or fail to perform duties that are expected of them and the patients suffer as a result. However, it is often difficult to prove that a case of malpractice has occurred because in medicine things often don't happen as expected. Lots of people have at one time or another felt dissatisfied with the services they received from medical practitioners and thereby wonder whether or not medical malpractice had occurred, and if so whether or not they deserved compensation.

Claims of medical malpractice are often very complex and so the services of a Fort Worth personal injury attorney may become necessary. The first step is to determine whether or not medical malpractice has actually occurred and the Fort Worth personal injury attorney will examine the case to see if the three elements described below are present.

First of all, it must be shown that the patient has suffered significant injury. If the patient cannot prove that a particular action or omission has hurt him/her significantly then he or she does not have a valid claim. To illustrate this point, consider these two examples. The first situation is where an anesthetist administers a drug that the patient is allergic to and which causes the patient to go into a coma and develop complications resulting in paralysis. In the second situation, a doctor prescribes pills and the patient develops a rash in reaction to the medication. In both cases the patients are allergic to the drugs they have received but it is only in the first case where significant injury warranting compensation has occurred.

The second element that the Fort Worth personal injury attorney will look for is whether or not the care or actions that were undertaken directly contributed to the patient's suffering. It is necessary to prove that the person would not have suffered any injury if it wasn't for the actions or omissions on the part of the hospital or medical professional. With reference to the first example above, it must be proven that the anesthetist's action was directly responsible for the patient's paralysis and that there was no other hidden factor.

Finally, it must be shown that the professional or hospital staff performed in a manner well below what is reasonably expected of such a professional or institution. One cannot therefore accuse a hospital of malpractice if the hospital lacks specialized equipment for a certain purpose or if no experts in a particular field are available. Still with the example of the anesthetist, one has to consider the facilities at his/her disposal. Did he/she have a way of knowing that the patient was allergic to the drug? Did he/she have alternatives and did he/she warn the patient beforehand of likely danger?

Such are the important considerations that must be taken into account. Before you can conclude whether or not you are a victim of malpractice therefore, your Fort Worth personal injury attorney will need to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the case.

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