Millions of Americans receive medical care each year. Many times, the care meets the relevant standards. In those cases where there is a breach of the standard of care, which is critical for the success of a medical malpractice case, there is no or negligible harm that is done. If this is the situation, then there is no real foundation for a case. However, if there was a breach of the duty to adhere to the standard of care that was the direct and proximate cause of harm, with calculable damages, then a person may be able to bring a medical malpractice case. The question then becomes, what does this all really mean?
How Does a Person Know if a Medical Malpractice Case Can Succeed?
Although there never are any guarantees about the outcome of a medical malpractice case, it is possible to get recommendations about the best course of action. At Stern Law, PLLC, we have developed the Medical Legal Review for this explicit purpose. Based on the nature of the potential malpractice, a team is compiled, which will carefully review medical records and all other available information in order to develop answers to the relevant questions and put forth recommendations. The team considers from very basic issues.
During a Medical Legal Review, the team of medical experts and legal professionals consider whether a doctor, nurse, technician, therapist, pharmacist, or other medical professional make a mistake and whether that error or omission led to harm to the patient. The Review also may look at the actions of a hospital or other healthcare facility to determine if there were any administrative failures that may have caused or contributed to the injury that a person suffered. Although the inquiry is simple, the process of proving the negligence of the medical professional is a long one.
There are many different points where negligence can occur when a person seeks medical help. It can happen right at the beginning, where a doctor fails to make the correct diagnosis. This could lead to a person being treated for a condition that he does not have while the true ailment progresses to the point where treatment is more difficult or impossible. This example typifies some of the challenges for a medical malpractice case. If a person goes to see a doctor, who diagnoses a treatable stomach ailment, then continues to experience worsening symptoms, he may seek out a second opinion months later. When that second opinion reveals stomach cancer that has metastasized, it is necessary to prove the initial mistake of the misdiagnosis and the harm that is attributable to that mistake. The fact is that the person had cancer when he first visited the doctor, but the treatments that might have worked initially may no longer be effective. The decreased quality of life or death of the patient must be proven. An experienced medical malpractice attorney understands how to gather the evidence and expert testimony necessary to succeed in a case with challenges such as these.
Demonstrating Injuries and Associated Damages
The issue of damages is central to a medical malpractice case. It is necessary to demonstrate that there was actual harm that resulted from the medical negligence and could have been prevented but for the mistake. In the above scenario, if the patient obtained the second opinion, received treatment, and made a full recovery, it may not be possible to maintain a medical malpractice case. The first doctor still made a mistake, but it is difficult to prove the damages that resulted from this error. In addition to demonstrating that there were damages, it is necessary to prove that there is a direct causal link between the actions or omissions of the doctor or other medical professional and the injury suffered by the patient. If there is some intervening factor, then the case becomes more difficult to prove. A person who had surgery for a perforated intestine after a car accident, leaves the hospital, participates in a touch football game where he is sacked hard, then returns to the hospital with severe internal bleeding as the result of a tear in the intestine may face challenges in demonstrating that the surgeon made a mistake during the initial surgery. The defense often raises challenges to causation based on arguments like these, but this does not mean that recovery is impossible.
Building the Case
After the initial Medical Legal Review, the journey has just begun. Many medical malpractice cases fail because the people with the information about the harm that was done, specifically the friends and colleagues of the person who made the mistake, refuse to provide the necessary information. Therefore, it is essential to find medical experts who will scrutinize the medical records and formulate a report that shows that the actions or omissions of the medical professional are most likely the cause of the harm that was suffered. Of course, the attorneys representing the defendant(s) are not going to let this go without challenge. It is an arduous fight to get to the point where a jury determines that the medical professional is liable for the harm that was done. Despite what many people believe, juries are reluctant to apportion liability to the doctors and other respected medical professionals who are accused of malpractice. It may be years before a case gets to the stage where a jury has the information that it needs to make the right decision. There may be opportunities to settle a claim along the way. In addition, alternative dispute resolution proceedings may provide a different means of getting the outcome that the medical malpractice victim deserves.
Stern Law, PLLC Makes the Difference for Medical Malpractice Victims
Medical malpractice cases are not simple or straightforward cases, but it is imperative to take action to hold doctors and other medical professionals responsible for the harm that they cause. At Stern Law, PLLC, have the experience and resources to get the right results for our clients. For more than 30 years, we have fought hard to obtain compensation necessary for recovery and the best quality of life possible. However, we also strive to act as a resource to everyone who may have been impacted by medical malpractice. We have people available to answer questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week for anyone who has a question or concern. Call us at 1-844-808-7529 or fill out an online contact form in order to learn how we can help you get through this difficult time.